Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recipe: Low-Cook, Low-Sugar Blackberry Freezer-Jam (Stevia-sweetened!)

But first, a teeny bit of Rambling........

Sooo... Ya know what really torques me??? When I download a bunch of pictures to my hard-drive, and edit 'em and get ALL READY to type-up an Action Packed Blog Post... Then my computer decides to take a crap on me - Grrrrrr!!!

So, last weekend was jam-packed, non-stop excitement. What with the SF Garden Show (and getting TONS of CREATIVE and EXCITING ideas), then the Build-A-Birdhouse Workshop, then ACTUALLY WORKING in the garden!!!

And I'm sure I would have written a positively SCINTILLATING Pulitzer Prize-worthy post that would've launched me into Fame and Fortune, and Book-Deals, and TV Appearances, and some-such bullsh*t (NOTTTT!!!).


"NEW" Laptop is back in the shop again (this is it's second trip - dammit!), and I may insist that it get returned to Dell and be replaced with a Brandy New machine.

Phooey! I am back on Bare-Nekkid "OLD" Laptop, and I really don't want to fill-up the hard-drive with too much "stuff."

* * * * *

Okay, I promised more Content and "segregated" rambling - so let's dive into "Content" shall we?

Grocery Store had fresh berries on sale, so I loaded up on Strawberries and Blackberries. I searched - in vain - for rhubarb again. But then I settled on making Blackberry Freezer Jam.

Now, today, I had to go back to the store (different store, this time) because I suddenly remembered I was out of Pectin (Oops!). Well, the second store DID have rhubarb (Yayyy!), so I bought even MORE strawberries. Strawberry Rhubarb Adventures will follow in a later post!

Today, it's Blackberries!

I consulted Google again and found that, pretty-much, all Blackberry Freezer Jam recipes have the same basic ingredients: Blackberries, sugar and pectin. Surprise!!! (although some mentioned adding lemon or lime juice).

So I mostly stuck with the directions in the package of Low/No-Sugar Pectin (today, it was a box of Sure-Jell Brand). I wanted to stick with No-Cook Freezer Jam, but blackberries don't seem to smush quite as well as strawberries. And the "Quick & Easy Freezer Jam"instructions did call for a *little* bit of cooking...

Here is what I did. And yes, I did wander off-course, just a little! (I am *such* a rebel!)

Low-Cook, Low-Sugar Blackberry Jam
Yields appx 5-6 half-pint jars of jam
Prep and Cook Time - appx 30-45 minutes total

  • 4 x 6oz. baskets of fresh blackberries (ended up being almost-exactly 4 cups, after smashing)
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs lime juice (bottled, unsweetened)
  • 1-1/2 cups "Stevia in the Raw" - granulated Stevia (Yes, my first attempt at sweetening with Stevia!)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package Sure-Jell No/Low-Sugar Pectin
  • 1 cup water
  1. Rinse the berries. Remove any nasty ones.
  2. Dump them into a large mixing bowl. Smash them, a layer at a time, with a potato masher, and sprinkle (as you go) with the 2 Tbs of Sugar. Real-sugar helps the "de-juicify-ing" process (IMHO).
  3. After you've smashed the berries, use a slotted metal serving spoon to find any remaining whole berries, and smash-em up against the side of the bowl. You don't want to completely puree them, but you don't really want "whole" berries either.
  4. (Some of the recipes I read suggested running appx half of the berries thru a food-mill to remove the seeds**. I think I will try that, next time I make blackberry jam.)
  5. Add in 1-2 Tbs of lime juice and stir the smash-berry-soup one more time... Let 'em set and sweat while you prep the pectin.
  6. Measure 1 cup sugar and 1-1/2 cups Stevia into a medium saucepan. Add the powdered pectin* and mix all the dry stuff thoroughly with a fork.
  7. Add 1 cup water to the Sugar/Splenda mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Heat-up on high to med-high, stirring constantly. Bring to a rolling boil and continue to stir, while boiling, for one full minute.
  9. Remove from heat and quickly dump the fruit-sludge into the hot Sugar-Pectin. Stir until well-mixed. Then stir some more (I think I stirred it for appx 2 minutes).
  10. Ladle the hot jam into clean plastic 1/2 pint freezer jars (with twist-on lids), leaving 1/2" headspace.
Let them set on the counter for 24 hours, then freeze for up to 6 months.

Okay: Crappy Droid Pics!

Getting ready for Berry Destruction!

Mmmm! Fresh Blackberries!
I actually kinda like the "dreamy" quality of this picture.
Then I figured out that maybe I oughtta wipe off the camera lens (Duhhhh!)

Smashed Berry-Soup!

I didn't snap a picture of the Sugar/Stevia/Pectin (imagine white powder, okay?!)
This is after I dumped the fresh smashed fruit into the boiling-hot pectin mixture...

*Now the Sure-Jell Instructions had dire warnings about measuring everything EXACTLY and not trying to modify the sugar content or attempt low-sugar with this method of preparation because it would result in set-failures. Mine is low-sugar and it set just fine.

All done! I ended up with five full jars (and one half-jar)

Other than being SUPER seedy, the jam is *quite* tasty! (Gonna add a Foley Food-Mill Doohickey to my Amazon Wish-List though!)

It set-up just fine and using Stevia as the sweetener tastes GREAT! Better than Splenda, I think. Definitely gonna do some more experimentation with Stevia on future Jamming Adventures!

And the Best Part of All??? Somehow - MIRACULOUSLY - my kitchen did NOT end-up looking like a murder scene! Not quite sure how *that* happened, but I'm damned happy about it! ;-)

Now go find yourself some fresh blackberries (preferably on sale) and make some of this jam!

** Addendum 04/07/12: If you decide to run half the berries thru a Foley Food Mill, plan on needing more berries. I did that and ended up with only 3 cups of smashed berries which kinda jacked-up the rest of the recipe. Suggestion: Buy 5 baskets, plain-smash two of 'em and run three baskets' worth thru the Food Mill (and plan on cleaning up a helluva mess afterward!)

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