Blackberry Chipotle Jam

September 28th, 2009
by: Blue

Read my jelly tips here.

4 cups prepared fruit (buy about 2 qt. fully ripe blackberries, preferably fresh)
3 Chipotle peppers
7 cups  sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
1 pouch  CERTO liquid fruit pectin
9 8-oz jelly jars
9 jar screw bands and flat lids
1 gallon pitcher

Prepare the fruit:  I usually prep the fruit ahead of time. Crush blackberries thoroughly, one layer at a time.  Press half of the pulp through a sieve to remove some of the seeds, if desired. Me? I like the seeds, I never sieve them out. Process chipotle peppers in food processor and add to blackberries.  Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6 or 8 quart saucepot and set aside (if preparing the fruit ahead of time I place the measured 4 cups of fruit into a ziploc baggie to store it until I am ready to make the jelly).

Prepare the jars:  This recipe will usually make 8 8-oz jars of jelly, but I always prepare one extra jar.  So, wash 9  jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water and dry completely.  Line jars up side by side, very close to each other, and very close to the  edge of the counter.  This positioning will assist you when pouring the jelly from the gallon pitcher.  Bring about 3 cups of water to boil. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use.  Place gallon pitcher in sink (when you pour the jelly in it, if any spills it will be in the sink and not on your counter or floor).

Make the jelly:  Place pot with fruit inside on stovetop and turn burner on high.  Add sugar to pot; stir. Add butter to reduce foaming. Stir constantly.  Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.  It’s important enough to repeat twice, stir constantly (actually that’s the third time, I bet you get it now).  Stir in liquid pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly (fourth time!). Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Fill the jars and seal:  This is the part where you need to work quickly, prepare yourself.  Pour jelly into the gallon pitcher; and immediately pour into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. If needed wipe jar rims and threads.  I don’t usually have to wipe anything because pouring the jelly from a pitcher is quite neat. Cover the jars with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly! Place jars upside down on counter, and leave them for around 10 minutes. Turn the jars back upright and leave them to cool down and seal.  As the lids cool you’ll start to hear them POP! as they seal.  I love this sound.  When they are completely cool press down on the middle of the dome lids to make sure that they are properly sealed. If the lid springs back it is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.

Jammin’ Jelly Tips

September 28th, 2009
by: Blue

Every year I make jelly for Christmas, and I gift friends and family with it.  I have done this for so many years that there is no question on whether I will make it or not each year; my family just knows that I will.  Making jelly is an expression of the love in my heart. What else says love better than homemade jelly spread on a hot biscuit?

When I’m in jelly making mode I usually go through at least 40 pounds of sugar, who knows how many pounds of fruit, and wind up with around 100 jars of jelly in various flavors. Kind of crazy, isn’t it?  But I enjoy it.  One of my family’s favorite jelly that I made for the first time last year was Blackberry Chipotle Jam.  Note that when I say jelly, I really mean jam, even though I use the words  interchangeably.  I think fruit bits make jammin’ jelly! 

I’m always amazed when people are amazed that I make jelly.  It’s surprisingly easy and SO much better than store bought.

Jelly tips:
1.  My jelly recipes show a very precise methodology that makes the process easier.
2.  I use the inversion method of jelly making.  The heat from the jelly inside the jars creates a vacuum while cooling down, which causes the jars to seal.  With this method I have never had a jar of jelly go bad in over 10 years of jelly making.
3.  One of the key points in the inversion method is to get the jelly in the jar and sealed quickly, in order to lose as little heat from the jelly as possible.  I have found the easiest (and least messy) way to do this is to pour the hot jelly into a gallon pitcher, and then quickly pour jelly into the jars.  This is much easier than using a ladle.
4.  I follow the directions.  Except for when I don’t.  Everything needs a touch of creativity.  My creativity with jelly is to play with the flavors, though, and not with the method itself.  Having said that, when you play with flavors, make sure  your fruit measurements match the quantity called for in the recipe.  For example, if the recipe calls for 4 cups of fruit, don’t add 1/4 cup of peppers to the 4 cups of fruit and then make jelly.  Instead, add the peppers to the fruit, then measure 4 cups of the combination for your jelly.
5.  Liquid pectin is a far better product than the powdered pectin.  I buy the Certo brand.
6.  Never buy jelly jars in Mississippi, for some reason they are outrageously expensive there.  In San Antonio I get them at HEB for around 5 bucks a dozen.
7.  It’s awesome when empty jelly jars are returned to me for a refill!
8.  What’s a full rolling boil?  If you are not familiar with what a full rolling boil is, keep this in mind:  If you wonder if it’s at a full rolling boil, it’s probably not.  When it reaches the full rolling boil stage it’s pretty obvious and it doesn’t stop boiling when you stir it.  When it reaches a full rolling boil you’ll say to yourself “Ohhhhh, there’s no question, it’s there.”
9.  Fresh fruit is preferable, but frozen is good as well.  Just thaw the fruit completely before you prep it for jelly.
10.  You can reuse the jars and screwbands, but never reuse the flat lids.  Always buy new ones.  The rubber on the bottom of the lids is not meant to seal properly more than once.