+Hosted right off the main road with a bumpy gravel and dirt pull- in area sets the farm market stand at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, PA. Inside, beneath the center wooden flat tables hosting a variety of farm goods on the creamy cement floor lie the stacked cardboard boxes for filling the ‘on- your- honor’ pick your own fruits from among the farms in-season selections.
A unique difference from the organized Pick Your Own farms with roped areas for hop on and off tractor rides to sectioned destinations, there is little signage directing eager pickers to the designated fruit fields traveling along through the bumpy back roads.
Small residential houses of workers dot the landscape tucked between so on the day of our visit a friendly farm worker and his young son kindly drove his truck ahead of the in and out back roads providing direction to the blackberry bushes located near the end portion of the farm. The only dilemma then was figuring out how to back track the winding pathways en route to a friend who had just arrived at the front entrance to join us.
Few would deny that this has been among the most mild and pleasant summers in memory, but then this has also caused some later delays in flavor ripening among some seasonal treasures including peaches, tomatoes, sweet corn, and, blackberries. Lots of red berries showed clusters of color between fuzzy green leaves, never quite emerging to the glory of the deepened purplish black colored balls indicating readied ripeness. Yet, specked in between intermittent bunches gave way to singular plump choices of shiny blackberries and with numerous rows from which to pick, ultimately yielding more than enough collectively among our group for enjoying fresh, topping onto desserts, and then preparing some batches of fresh Blackberry Jam shared today.
With the fresh fruit allotment of blackberries picked among our own group, we realized how easy it was to make our our way back just at the end of the side road and swing on around to the entrance again where we then set off to the blueberry picking area, not too far beyond the market.
The sheer white lined covers above the blueberry picking areas though giving reprieve from the direct beating sun, always creates greater heat and humidity on the inside making blueberry picking a bit more tedious, particularly including the added manual labor given the smaller size of this sweet and tart fruit. Nevertheless, the day’s group also picked more than enough for use.
The seeming challenge on picking two different types of fruits on the same day may be that it inspires big ideas, tarts, jams, and all sorts of kitchen creations that require all other tasks in life be set aside to meet its fruition. I’ve yet to get to the lemon curd and blueberry tarts. The jam however, something I don’t often prepare has been a big hit and I plan on sharing a couple of the finished jars with friends.
Today’s Blackberry Jam recipe is the standard, common, basic, though I did strain through half of the seeds in the batch, leaving the rest in the mix. Using the minimal amount of pectin since blackberries are quite acidic for jelling on their own, for the most part, I also did add in a bit less sugar than is typical. I’ve a savory bunch in my house so a bit less of too sweet and yet not too tart turned out as the just right desired flavor. Blackberry Jam also turned out to be the perfect way to finish off my very last stash of 1 jumbo Stroopwafel gracing the tailgate table last season from the family of one of our Netherland field hockey team players.
Now, the Water Bath Canning part also got me thinking about Marisa McClellan, author of Food in Jars that we featured on Spiced Peach Blog last year. I’ve also included the photo of the canned rhubarb jam above that Marisa had gifted to me and I subsequently used on a baked Camembert cheese.
Marisa also had another cookbook published this year called Preserving by the Pint. One of the features I like most about the way Marisa teaches about canning is that she makes it so easy to handle. Canning does not have to mean days of drudgery and hard work and in fact, may be achieved quite easily in reasonable amounts of time. I’ve included here a helpful Post that she formerly wrote, especially excellent for new users to the canning process. Patiently waiting for the peaches to ripen up a bit, picking the blackberries and preparing jam afterwards proved lots of fun, and another of the many delights of the summer PYO adventures. Peach ice cream up next.
- 7 cups blackberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 5-6 cups sugar
- 2 cups less 2 tablespoons Ball Real Fruit Classic Pectin (not instant)
- Prepare jars by washing them through a dishwasher cycle. Hand wash lids and tops then drop into a pan of boiling water just before canning the blackberries. Place canning ring into the bottom of a large pot for the water bath canning and fill with enough water to fully cover jars by one inch during canning process, turn on heat to begin simmering. Place clean blackberries into a large pot and using a potato masher, mash the berries. Stir in the lemon juice. Turn on burner to very low heat and cook just until blackberries begin to bubble and boil then a little at a time drizzle in the pectin stirring constantly between each addition. Cook jam another two minutes at the low bubbling boil then add in 5-6 cups of sugar all at once and stir frequently until jam is completely thickened, approximately ten more minutes, turn off heat. Place canning funnel into the top of first jar and ladle in jam continuing to fill one jar at a time, placing a lid flat onto the top of each jar finishing with the ring, then twisting top just until closed. Wipe jars of any sticky residue from jam with a warm cloth. Using a jar holder gently place each filled jar into the simmering pot of water positioning each jar into the ring so jars do not touch each other. Once jars of jam are set into the pot of simmering water, raise the temperature to medium high heat until boiling. Once the water starts boiling, begin timing and cook the jam jars for ten minutes. Turn off heat. Let jam sit in pot for five minutes and remove to a cookie sheet lined with a kitchen towel positioned so that the jars are not touching each other and let stand undisturbed over night. Remove the ring from the jars. Lift the jars by the lid a couple inches to be sure they have set tightly closed. Wipe jars clean and store in pantry.