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How to Make Homemade Blackberry Jelly

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We planted blackberry bushes 5 years ago and this year they have produced a bumper crop!  We have already picked five gallons of berries and there are that many plus much more still on the bushes!  I made blackberry jelly with my sister-in-law last year, and our boys just loved it!  So, I knew I was going to be making jelly this year, but I’ve never made it on my own.  So, as the name of our blog implies, we learn by doing around here, so today, hubby and I made 21+ pints of blackberry jelly in six batches.  Since hubby manned the juicer, I guess I wasn’t completely on my own, but I was the primary and he was the assistant, LOL!  So here’s how to make homemade blackberry jelly!

 

How to make homemade blackberry jelly

We started with 5 gallons of blackberries that we have been picking over the course of a week and putting in our refrigerator to keep.  We juiced all 5 gallons of berries and they produced about 24 cups of blackberry juice. To juice the blackberries, we used our KitchenAid Mixer. The KitchenAid Mixer has an attachment that is specifically for juicing. I know lots of folks buy a separate juicer, but I like to really get the full use of our kitchen equipment, especially ones that you invest in like a KitchenAid!! Besides, you can spend as much on a juicer as we did on our mixer! We even grind wheat with an attachment to this mixer!  It is simply a workhorse and worth every dime you pay for them! We did have to clean out the juice attachment once while processing the 5 gallons of blackberries. But that was not much work at all.  

(Note to self:  I really should not call the by-product of juicing “waste” because we feed it to our chickens and they were some kinda’ happy to get blackberries!)  

The Sure-Jell directions as well as our Ball Canning Recipe Book both were VERY emphatic about not making a double batch and that the measurements needed to be exact, so I ended up making six individual batches of blackberry jelly.   

Ingredients per batch (Use precise measurements):

3 3/4 cups of Blackberry JuiceBlackberry Jelly Ingredients

4 1/2 cups of Sugar

1 Box of Dry Pectin

1/2 Teaspoon of Unsalted Butter

 

Equipment needed:

7 Half-Pint Jars or 3 Pint Jars and 1 Half-Pint Jar

Lids and Rings for Jars 

6-8 Quart Stainless Steel Pot (to cook Jelly) NOTE: I found this great deal on Amazon!! 

Small Stainless Steel Saucepan (to keep lids in hot water)

Large Pot for Water Bath for Canning

Jar Tongs

Ladle

Jar Funnel

2 Measuring Cups (One for Dry and one for Wet ingredients)

Knife (to cut butter)

Wash Cloth (to wipe jar tops after filling so lids can seal)

Magnetic Wand (to retrieve lids from hot water)

 

Directions:

Step One.  Wash jars, lids and rings in warm soapy water and rinse well.

Step Two.  Put Jars in large canning pot for the water bath to get them hot and lids in the smaller pot to keep them hot.  

Step Three.  Pour 3 3/4 cups of Juice in Stainless Steel pot and add 1/2 teaspoon of butter and one package of dry pectin and cook on high stirring constantly.

Step Four.  Once Juice has reached a boil that you can’t stir back down, add sugar, stirring in one cup at a time, but being quick about it!  Let boil for one minute.

Step Five.  Move juice off heat.  Using the jar tongs, retrieve all the jars from the water bath (draining them back in the pot as you go).  Get funnel in the first jar and ladle in the jelly.  Move as quickly as possible.  

Step Six.  Wipe the rim of the jar and place the lid and ring on.  Tighten down rings and move to filling the next jar.  

Step Seven.  Once all the jars are filled and closed, using the jar tongs, place the jars back into the canning pot water bath.  Bring to a boil.  

Step Eight.  Boil for five minutes and remove from water using the jar tongs.  

Step Nine.  Let sit undisturbed for 24 hours.  

Over the next 30 minutes or so, be listening for the “pop” of the lids to show that they sealed correctly.  Once the jars have cooled, you can check to see if they are sealed by pressing in the center of the lid gently. If the lid pops up and down (making a popping sound), the jar is not sealed. But, if you put the jar in the refrigerator immediately you can still eat this jelly.

Just so you know, it gets quite hectic once you put the jelly on the stove to boil.  From that point until the jars are filled and back in the water bath, it is pretty non-stop action. It is not hard to make jelly and it doesn’t take long to get a routine going, but having an extra set of hands really helps during these steps.  I’m pretty sure I would not recommend doing six batches one after the other, but this project is off my list now!  I love marking things off my to do list!  Plus this is a pretty messy process (notice the spill beside the juice in the picture above).  So, I wanted to process all the blackberry juice we had already made.  We had to clorox our white counter-tops to get all the blackberry stains off after I finished!  

Blackberry Jelly 21 Pints

Cost breakdown per batch:

We already had all the equipment, so those items are not considered in the cost analysis.  For one gallon of blackberries, expect to get approximately 3.5 pints of jelly.  

Blackberries – $0.00

Sugar $1.61

Dry-Pectin $2.50

Butter $0.05

Jars $5.00

Equals about $2.62 per pint…. and it’s homemade! Gotta’ love it!   

So, now that I am an expert at this whole making jelly thing, I figured I needed to write a post to teach you how to make homemade blackberry jelly too!  LOL!  Honestly, my boys said it’s better than Aunt Neal’s jelly (don’t tell her that though).  So, even though I may be a newbie, I was a successful one!   PS… that is quite the compliment, it’s hard to top Aunt Neal at anything, much less at cooking!  

Until next time…

Roots, Fruits and Shoots Business

Blueberries

Hello, my name is Blake and I’m nine years old.  We are a homeschooling family and I have just started an organic produce business.  I named it Roots, Fruits and Shoots. We have been busy planting a garden this spring.  It is our first time to use wood mulch.  My mom has been posting about it until now.  I’ll be posting about the garden now.

We were not sure about the wood mulch at first, but once we saw the weeds flourishing under the mulch we thought our plants might do well.  We have been weeding the garden and the roots were big, but most were so easy to pull up.  I have only watered the garden once this year.  The wood mulch stores the moisture for the plants.  

We have quite a lot of things coming up like nasturtium, strawberries, potatoes, blueberries, carrots, and radish.  And we also have horseradish and blackberries in our front yard.  Our first crop is starting to come in, guess what it is?  Strawberries!!!  We harvested our first strawberries today!!!  

Strawberries

We have a green house where we planted tomatoes and peppers in pots.  We will move them out when they have matured and its warm enough.  I will be planting beans, corn, zucchini, squash, watermelon, pumpkins, cantaloupe, honey dew, Okra, and cucumbers very soon.  

Four years ago we planted blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, and pears.  They are really starting to flourish and produce lots of fruit now.  Especially our blackberries and strawberries.

Blackberries

 

Permaculture Garden Update

As most of you know, we are converting from traditional gardening techniques to a permaculture garden this year, so I wanted to give you all a quick Permaculture Garden Update.  We have been busy trying to get mulch in place and seeds planted.   Well, we have finally seen a few signs of life under all that mulch (besides weeds), so I wanted to share our pictures of our first plants.  We have not watered the mulch once!  How exciting is this!!!  

We have planted all the cold weather crops (except Kale and I’m hoping we are not too late to get one round in the ground next week).  We are getting the spring crops in the ground slowly but surely!  We have tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, and catnip planted in the greenhouse, but we are having a hard time remembering to get in there and water!  I guess that is a result of NOT having to water the rest of the garden!  Will have to stay on top of this one better!  I’ll continue to post pictures as the plants start peeking out!  

I was really worried about the nitrogen levels of the ground the first year… so this is exciting to see any plants successfully growing.  It may not last, but we are praying we have a bumper crop this year.   If you are not familiar with the concept of permaculture gardening, think about a forest floor.  There you will find extremely rich moist soil that is not watered at all…  yet all these plants continue to thrive and grow year after year in the forest.  We are attempting to recreate this concept.  I first learned about it via a video called “Back to Eden Gardening“.  I talked with Paul Gautschi (the gardener in the video) and we decided to convert our raised beds to wood mulch planting this year.  So far, I’m thoroughly impressed and totally excited about the planting season!  For anybody that has gardened without the luxury of a tractor, you know that is not common to hear somebody being excited about planting!  I was and still am!  

Our “to do list” is a mile long and continues to grow, but we are chipping away at it and will do the very best we can.  And that will be good enough!  Anyway, here are some pictures from the first little plants out of the ground!!!

Cherry Belle Radish Perma-culture Garden   Comet Radish Perma-culture Garden

Peas Perma-culture Garden

 

Until Next Time…. 

 

 

 

Farm Volunteer Surprises!

What an absolutely beautiful day we had Friday!  We spent most of the day in the yard working!  And we are so thankful to have the warm day to do it!  This time of year, it is very common to get in the greenhouse and find a volunteer or two growing.  But this year, we have a whole new level of farm volunteer!  Look at what we found:  Ten Potato plants and Carrot Volunteers!!!  I didn’t even know Carrots would return if not picked!  (Ha ha ha…. Live and Learn, right?)!  Anyway, I thought I would share some pictures of what is going on around here.  Spring is when everything on the farm is starting to kick back into gear, including us… I’ve got a few winter pounds to lose myself due to lack of activity!!!  But, all of sudden, in the matter of two days, we have green plants everywhere, our pear trees are blooming like crazy and already we feel a sense of urgency…  as if we are behind in a span of less than 48 hours 🙂  

Anyway, get back to the volunteers… this year, we got an even bigger surprise volunteer… See the pictures below:

 

Meet Cooter Brown (my hubby named him)! A friend of ours called to let us know our rooster was out. When we got outside, our Rooster (Rocky) was safely in the pen. But the next day, we figured out it wasn’t OUR rooster that was out, but a new rooster visiting. He is young, he doesn’t even have official spurs yet). Looks like a Rhode Island Red mix. Anybody know? Look at those white tail feathers! Anyway, him and Rocky didn’t get along when they were in the same pen, so we moved Cooter to the other pen. This morning, Cooter was gone… but the gate was closed, so we now know he can fly. This afternoon, he’s been spotted back inside the pen snacking on crumble. We’ll see if we have a new addition to the flock, or if he is just a traveler passing through. Either way, this has been a fun adventure trying to catch and encourage him to stay!

I will post more pictures later with more details!  Until next time….

Traditional Garden Checklist by Month

Since we are just starting our Permaculture garden, I don’t have a checklist to go by yet!  So, I’ll have to modify the one we already have to Permaculture!  It is one I adapted from Southern Living Magazines years ago.  Note this is for Zone 7, for other zones, you will have to adjust the list to fit your area.  Here is a map to help you identify your region.   

Garden checklist by Month

Note the Last Frost date for zone 7 is approximately April 15th.  First Frost approximately November 13th

January

  • Inventory and Order Seeds
  • Prune shrubs (not flowering shrubs)
  • Prune fruit trees (tipping the main stem & main branches).  Apples and Pears:  Prune branches competing with the leader branch, branches that cross, grow inward, appear broken or disease or rise abruptly from horizontal branches.  Remove suckers from the base. 
  • Plant new shrubs and trees
  • Till garden when dry, working in compost  NOTE:  Back to Eden Gardens do not require tilling
  • Plant blueberries
  • Early January, plant Artichoke in greenhouse, move to 4-6 weeks at 35-50 degrees. Two weeks after last frost, plant in bed. 
  • Late January, plant Asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, broccoli, hot peppers in greenhouse.  Move outside after last frost. 

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We’re Growing Mushrooms

You read it right, we are about to be growing mushrooms! Shiitake mushrooms, that is! Since we love shiitake mushrooms and nobody I know of around here are growing them, it seems like a perfect niche for us to add to our Practical Life curriculum. For those unfamiliar with Montessori education, the “Practical Life” curriculum for middle school students involves setting up a business. It teaches them so many things about life, economics, values, priorities but it also can help the boys determine what they want to do (or not do) when they grow up!! I have learned that if you love what you do, it is not work! So, our job is to introduce our children to lots of opportunities to help them determine what they do and don’t like!  (Note this is a long article, so I have chosen to use the “read more” tab below in order to shorten the articles on the home page… so if you are interested, please be sure to click the “read more” button right below the share buttons for the various social media sites).  

We ordered the shiitake mushroom plugs today and hope to get our first stack of wood plugged, waxed and ready to go in about a month. I never really knew how mushrooms grew, but I never expected them to grow in logs!

Shiitake Sharon Dale Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to Eden Garden Started

At the end of January 2013, we put our builders paper down and shoveled our wood mulch on top. This past week we have had massive amounts of rain, but our wood mulch held!

 

Wood Mulch Holding even with the Monsoons

Wood Mulch Holding even with the Monsoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are starting to work on the next area to be papered and mulched.  We have pulled out all of the raised beds, used the weed eater on all the weeds, tilled the high areas where the dirt was and are left with a muddy mess since it’s been raining so much.  We should have waited before tilling this area … alas, did I mention what the name of our farm is and why 🙂  Live and Learn!  

To Be Papered and Mulched 1

 

Evidence of the amount of rain… notice the pier is about under water!

Overflowing Pond

 

We will continue to give you updates as we start this new phase of our adventure!

Until next time…

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