Tag Archives: holidays

No Sugar Blackberry Jam

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Deborah saying that her blackberry hedge was ready. Did I want to come pick any? Hah! Silly question, of course I did! So after work on a 100+ degree day, I went to go pick. In about 45 minutes I had 9 pint baskets filled with blackberries and a girlfriend headed to my house to help can. After eating a pint between the two of us and a glass of red wine or two, we decided we were going to go wild and leave all the sugar out of this jam, and oh my goodness, I’m so glad we did. This doesn’t taste like most jams; instead it’s super tart and tastes intensely of berries. I wouldn’t do this with anything but the freshest berries you can get your hands on. I don’t think even stone fruits would hold up well to this version.

As for the technical details, as always with canning, follow the directions for sterilizing and setting up a water bath that I put in my first canning post. To make this a truly sugar free jam, without subbing in artificial sweetners, the only pectin I’ll use is Ball RealFruit Pectin, low or no-sugar needed variety, in the flex batch size. In general, I really love Ball products, since they’re reliable, high quality and very affordable.

No Sugar Blackberry Jam

  • 8 cups blackberries
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 6 tbsp pectin
  • 8 half pint glass jars with seals and lids

In a large non-reactive pot over medium heat, combine blackberries and water. Stir frequently, mashing the berries with the back of a large spoon, as the mixture comes to a boil. Add pectin and allow to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, while continuing to stir. Pour into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 in head space, and water bath process for 5 minutes.



Filed under Recipe

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Last weekend, I helped with the food at my friend’s lovely garden wedding. As a thank you, I got sent home with all the leftover strawberries, all six pints worth. Fortunately, I love to make jam, and I have a friend who has a long-standing request to join me whenever I make strawberry jam. She came over, and we spent a fun hour and a half slicing berries, stirring and boiling away. We each ended up with 5 jars of jam for our efforts, and only had to pay for the jars (which we can reuse), sugar, and pectin.

Canning is probably the most complicated way to preserve food, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it isn’t too hard. It is important, however, to follow the directions exactly in regards to amounts of sugar, salt, and acid, and to do the hot water bath. In order to do this, there are a few tools that are either essential or incredibly useful. The absolute must is a canning rack or basket for boiling the jars in: without it, your jars will rattle around and possibly break. In order of what I love, but could possibly live without, there are also jar lifters (particularly essential if you’re using a canning rack rather than a basket), canning funnels (cuts way back on the mess, particularly with small jars), and lid lifters (helps prevent burned finger tips). As for the jars and pectin, I find those in my regular grocery store, and the tools I got at my hardware store.

According to the government, these batches are good for a year, so this could make great holiday gifts, or just provide an amazing taste of summer in the middle of winter. Or you could be like my friend and run through your entire batch in a month of so.

Please note that the first three steps are for sterilizing your jars and lids, and preparing your hot water bath. If possible, try and time having the lids and jars done at the same time as your jam is ready to can. This is probably the trickiest part.

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

  • 6 pints or 12 cups of strawberries, halved
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 packet low sugar pectin
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 8-10 glass half pint jars with good lids and rings (err on the side of more, rather than less)
  1. Run jars through an otherwise empty dishwasher on the hottest water and dry settings OR place on a cookie sheet in the oven at 225 F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make sure the pot can hold your canning rack or basket and has enough water to cover your jars by 1 in.
  3. Put lids in a small pot, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  4. Measure 3 1/2 cups sugar into a bowl. Into a separate bowl mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar with packet of pectin.
  5. Place berries in another large pot, preferably enameled, and stir in sugar/pectin mixture.
  6. Slowly bring berry/pectin mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
  7. Once the mixture boils, stir in remaining sugar and vanilla extract, bring back to a simmer, and allow to cook for another minute or two, then turn off the heat.
  8. Ladle jam into clean jars, using canning funnel if you have one, leaving 1/2 in of head space (i.e., stop when there’s 1/2 in of empty space in the jar). NOTE: If at the end there’s a jar with more than 1/2 in of headspace, do not water bath process it. Store in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.
  9. Wipe off rims of jars with damp paper towel.
  10. Drain lids and place one on top of each jar.
  11. Place rings on top of jar and tighten
  12. Put jars in canning basket or on canning rack in your pot of boiling water, making sure they’re covered by at least 1 in of water.
  13. Leave jars in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
  14. Place on counter to cool. If lid hasn’t popped inwards within 24 hours, store jam in refrigerator and use within 2 weeks. Otherwise, store in a cool dark place.



Filed under Recipe


No, that is not a made up word in my title. It’s one of my projects for the summer and should make excellent Christmas presents. One of my favorite parts of summer is all the amazing produce. Working on a farm, and being a huge fan of the farmers market, I sometimes end up with more than I can eat before it goes bad. That’s when I turn to food preservation, which can mean making jams and pickles, but can encompass a lot of other methods.

One of my favorite methods, and the simplest, is to use alcohol, which brings me back to the title of my post. Rumptopf is a German dish, which involves layers of fresh fruit, topped with sugar and dark rum. As the summer progresses and different fruits come into season, add another layer of fruit, with more sugar and rum. Or, you can buy all the fruit and make it in one go.

I divide this recipe into 4 1-pint jars to give out as presents, but you could be selfish or generous, and put it all in one giant jar, that would hold a half gallon of water. Just use glass, which won’t transfer any flavor or chemicals to the fruit.


  • 2 cups (1 pint basket) strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 cups peaches, sliced 1/2 thick, pit removed
  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 2 cups plums, sliced 1/2 thick, pit removed
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 liter dark rum
  • 4 pint glass jars
  1. Divide strawberries evenly between jars. Sprinkle 2 1/2 tbsp sugar over each layer of strawberries, then cover with rum, about ¼ cup.
  2. Repeat with each type of fruit, creating layers. At the end, make sure the fruit is completely covered with rum.
  3. Store in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator!), and periodically swirl to help the sugar dissolve.  If the fruit floats to the top, occasionally flip to make sure everything is equally saturated with rum. Allow to soak for at least 3 weeks, though the longer the better.

Serve over pound cake, use the fruity rum in cocktails or just have a ridiculously tipsy fruit salad.

1 Comment

Filed under Recipe