Vanilla Rye Blackberry Jam

13Jul13

On my way home from picking Saskatoon berries (there’ll be a post on Col Sam Smith’s Saskatoon & Blueberry Basil jam later), I stopped by a Chinese Grocer in South Etobicoke and bought some wild Ontario blueberries for jamming. I also eyed two quarts of blackberries and couldn’t resist so I bought those too.

Vanilla Rye Blackberry Jam

After scouring the internet for some interesting Blackberry jam recipes, I came across this one: Vanilla Bourbon Blackberry Jam. Living with Bryan, we rarely have Bourbon but ALWAYS have whisky. After reading over the recipe several times, I decided I wanted to double the recipe. The recipe lists the fruit in pounds, so I googled “How many pounds is in one quart of blackberries” and based on the results I went to my corner Chinese market and bought two more pints.

Because I had so much fruit, I needed to use my smaller stock pot to make the jam and my larger stock pot for processing. I sterilized 6 quarter pint jars and one half pint jar and kept them warm while I made the jam.

Vanilla Rye Blackberry Jam

I followed the directions mostly exactly, except for the butter (I don’t add butter to jam… I understand that it’s used to reduce foaming, but I don’t have an issuing with foaming and would rather scrape it off then add dairy to my preserves) and substituted Wisers for Jack Daniels.

Vanilla Rye Blackberry Jam

I bought a candy thermometer to use for jam making. Apparently jam sets at 220F, but I had a really hard time bringing the jam up to 220. After about 45 minutes of boiling, I gave up on getting a “good” set and filled 5 quarter pint jars for the first batch. While the first batch processed, I cooked down the remaining jam (after sloshing in some more whisky) and ladled into the remaining jars for a second processing batch, with enough to fill another non-sterilized (but clean) pint jar to put in the fridge and eat right away.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve made this jam and have finished the pint in the fridge. It’s one of my favourite preserves so far. I don’t care that it’s a bit on the runny side — it’s still gelly enough for toast. The vanilla and blackberry flavour taste so good together!!! Next time I make this I’ll probably reduce the amount of vanilla extract as it is slightly overpowering. Vanilla has a high pH level, so I don’t think there’d be any danger in a reduction. The whisky flavour does not come out at all and I would be more disappointed except the jam tastes so good.

Vanilla Rye Blackberry Jam

LESSONS LEARNED:
1. Jam gelling is a precise science. If you mess with the proportions (even doubling), you mess with the gel.
2. If your jam doesn’t gel, it’ll be runny. It’ll still be delicious.
3. A little vanilla goes a long way.

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