Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blackberry Preserves (Pectin-Free and With Honey)


 After my attempt earlier this summer of substituting some honey for sugar in strawberry preserves, I was so encouraged by all your comments that I knew I would try my next batch without any sugar at all.  Being a complete novice, I hadn't really planned on blogging about it, but I was so happy with the results I couldn't wait to share with you!  

It's blackberry season here and these local blackberries are honestly some of the best I have ever had.  This is the second gallon I've bought from a local farmer's market, but this time I wanted to try making some preserves with them (saving a little extra for snacking, of course!). 


I really haven't found a lot of information out there about making jam without pectin and using honey instead of sugar, but I did find this article very helpful.  A lot of what I have read has mentioned you can use honey as an equal substitute for sugar, so I went that route to be on the safe side. 

I only used two ingredients: blackberries and honey.  I found that I had to let the mixture cook about twice as long.  After about half an hour, I did a sheet test and really couldn't tell if it was thick enough or not.  Then I read in the article linked above about taking a spoonful of the mixture with a cold spoon and letting it sit and cool to room temperature to see if it jells.  It jelled almost right away and I could hardly believe it.  I knew it wouldn't set like jam with pectin, but I was so surprised that it really had a jell-like texture. 


I had a little extra that wasn't quite enough for another jar, so I placed it in the refrigerator.  (I save cute store-bought jars that don't have any writing on them for leftovers and this purpose.)  It set perfectly, but still has a spreadable consistency. This picture was even taken before it cooled completely... if I turn the jars upside down, the preserves don't even move. 


I also found that the honey taste wasn't strong at all.  A reader (Sarah) had commented on my strawberry preserves that with honey, the jam is sweeter and tastes more natural like fresh berries off the vine.  I definitely found that to be true.  I'm still learning, but I think the key is cooking it to exactly the right consistency and using the right proportions.  I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to pectin jams now and maybe one day I'll get it just right (smile)!  

Pectin-Free Blackberry Preserves Made with Honey
Makes about 3 half-pint jars
  • A heaping 4 cups fresh blackberries (I packed these tightly down when measuring and probably used a little more)
  • 2 cups honey
  1. In a stainless steel saucepan, combine berries and honey.  Stir and set aside for a few minutes while you gather your canning supplies.
  2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.  (For more details, see Ball's canning guide here)
  3. Bring berries to a boil over medium heat.  Boil hard, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (I found it to take about 30 minutes, but I kept a close eye on the mixture).  Test the gel and when it's at the right consistency, remove from heat.
  4. Spoon preserves into prepared, hot jars, leaving 1/4" head space.  Wipe rim, center lid on jar and screw band down.
  5. Place jars in your canner, completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.  Remove lid, wait 5 minutes and remove jars to cool and store. 

39 comments:

  1. You're just the smartest little one! These preserves look so delicious and pretty too.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

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  2. how funny that you posted this today...I just walked inside with a whole bucketful of blackberries from my neighbor's bush. It is overflowing and they are dripping with sweetness!

    Is it good with honey, isn't it...that's all my family uses to make jams and preserves on our blueberry farm.

    and I keep meaning to get myself some of those cute little jars. :)

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  3. Well, I will definitely have to try this as a friend just brought me some honey from her grandfather's bees. Love the idea of no sugar especially. Beautiful Andrea, and I love that you save and reuse those jars:-)

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  4. My favorite kind of jam. My mother made bunches of it every summer. Love the idea of honey in it- xo Diana

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  5. Last night I had sent you a link to my latest simple and healthy fruit spread experience.....you might want to try it with your blackberries....maybe you won't even have to cook them down!


    Strawberry Rhubarb Fruit Spread

    3 cups strawberries
    2 cups sliced rhubarb
    2-4 Tablespoons honey
    2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds

    I put it all in my blender....then in the refrigerator until the next day.
    Delicious....and healthy!

    I will freeze some next time....
    this batch didn't last long enough to make it to the freezer.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing, Sheila! I will definitely have to try this - sounds delicious!

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  6. This is the best year for wild blackberries that I've seen in decades. Steve has been going out every morning for several weeks now. And I'm happy to have the fruits without the attendant high grasses, slugs, chiggers, etc. Your preserves look great.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, how wonderful! My parents have had some wild blackberries on their property... they said they are so sweet.

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  7. I'll try this method with my next batch of berry preserves. They sound delightful with the subtle taste of honey. Thanks for sharing!!

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  8. Your preserves look delicious! I am going to have to try this as I would rather have honey than sugar.

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  9. Hi just stopping by! You have such a lovely blog. You have a great tastefully done simple style. I'm following along on FB. I would love if you would visit my blog Curate by Carrie Corson sometime:) Carrie

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Carrie!

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  10. Love this recipe!! I will have to try it out!!

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  11. thank you so much for posting this recipe for all of us to use...I just acquired some blackberries too!!
    have a great day :)
    xo +blessings,
    Anne Marie

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  12. This looks so good! :)

    Andrea I made strawberry jam with pectin and I think it might require it, but I made three other batches with various fruits and different recipes....using no pectin and I am actually enjoying some jam on rye toast as I type this!

    I did alot of stirring and cooking, though. It takes awhile without the pectin. Come on over and if you just search jam no pectin, or three delicious jams, the post should show up...it's fairy recent. You might want to try one of them ...the stone fruit jam would work quite well at this time of year and it is so rich and yummy : )

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    Replies
    1. I do think strawberry is very challenging without pectin... I will go search for your jams!

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  13. I'm absolutely inspired to try this! Our two blackberry bushes don't produce a lot of berries as they're only a few years old, but enough for that snacking :) But we have a neighbor who has gallons and gallons and I would love to try this jam. It's my second year as a "canner" ( I say with pride! lol) and I'm hooked on it's goodness! This recipe looks and sounds delicious. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Joanne! I hope you enjoy it! I know what you mean about canning... I'm still learning, but it really is addicting! There's just nothing like home-canned foods. :-)

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  14. You have been such a busy bee. I love this! Thank you dear.
    xoxo
    Lisa
    Leeshideaway

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  15. I just made a no pectin apricot jam and wished I'd seen your post.. I would have tried honey:) These little jars are so pretty!

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  16. Just the other night we were out walking a favorite trail and noticed that some blackberries are already ripe! (That's usually a late-August event where we live.) You've inspired me to give this a try. Looks easy and wonderful.

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  17. Andrea...your jam look spectacular! I make mine the vary same way and I am always amazed at the difference in flavor. I wish blackberries were in season here. They are my favorite!

    ~Julia

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  18. Looks great! I never made jam with honey before, have to try it sometime. If you need a natural substitute for store bought pectin, you can use the seeds of a lemon. Just throw 4-5 lemon seeds in the pan while the jam is cooking and it will thicken it like pectin. You can fish them out before canning.

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    Replies
    1. How interesting! Thank you for sharing the tip!

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  19. Lovely! what a great recipe and great images too!

    love it!

    Hugs from Jerez in the South of Spain


    Marina

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  20. Thanks for the recipe Andrea...It looks wonderful!...Great tip about the cold spoon!

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  21. i would prefer comments from people who have actually made the jam rather than just looked at the recipe!

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  22. I would love to try this recipe. Does it take 30 min. from the time you start it or 30 min. from the time it starts boiling? Thank you...

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    1. Hi Petie. It took about 30 minutes from the time it started a hard boil, but I would suggest watching it closely! Hope you enjoy!

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  23. Had to comment--DELICIOUS! I doubled the recipe and added (taken from another recipe) 1 tsp. Ceylon Cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. Clove. It gave me 16 half pints with a couple tablespoons left over for YUM. You may want to fix a couple of batches instead of doubling as the cooking time is also doubled. For one batch, be sure to cut the spice to 1/2 Ceylon Cinnamon and 1/8 Clove. The combination of ingredients is awesome and addictive.

    Also, I found no sheeting action while cooking and found instead that I needed to test it occasionally for consistency. I found removing it from the stove just prior to the desired consistency, came out with the desired "Gel". Absolutely delicious! What great additions to Christmas baskets.

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  24. On the off-chance that you're still checking this old post, I have a small suggestion to add! When making jams/preserves without added pectin, if you're having a tough time getting the right set, you can add a grated apple or two (or more, if it's a big batch) to the pot. Apples are a great natural source of pectin, and it's my secret ingredient! I haven't had a batch fail to set when I've added in a bit of apple...

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    1. Thanks for the tip - I'll definitely try it this summer!

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    2. My thanks for the tip, too. Just tried this recipe today and I think I may have ended up more with an ice cream topping than a gelled kind of preserve. ha. We have a great blackberry corner and also apple trees, so I'll remember that for next time. Thank you, KIC, for the recipe - my taste tests were great, even if it ends up not gelling well. :)

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    3. I made your recipe last night and plan to serve the plan to serve the preserves this afternoon at tea, with scones and clotted cream. I am a bit nervous, I think I may have over-boiled the preserves and the consistency is too hard. My main concern, after having tasted before jarring, is that there is an overwhelming taste of honey. I can pass that off to guests by calling it honey & blackberry preserves but I lost the taste of the wild blackberries that I picked yesterday morning.

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    4. I use Granny Smith apples in my fruit pies to either cut the corn starch or eliminate completely. I've been told Granny Smith's have the highest pectin of all the apples. I core, peel and grate the apple - then take the grated apple and wring it out in a cotton tea towel. This is the only part I use in my pies (one per pie) & my kids get to enjoy the juice. I could see this working very well for jam!

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  25. How long will the jam keep w/o pectin?

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  26. We made this yesterday and just tasted it - delicious! I was worried they honey would overpower the fruit taste (after tasting it yesterday while still warm) but I don't think it did. We used a 4 cup measuring cup filled to brim with washed berries and packed tight, it yielded 4 1/2 pint jars. I let it boil for 30 minutes and it's very very thick, almost too thick to spread. I remember the point during boiling that it turned from watery to thick and started splattering and burning my hand while stirring - next time I think I'll remove it from heat then (22-26 min). Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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