Frustrating Retail Experience; Elderberry Jam

August 6, 2014 at 4:20 am Leave a comment

Some things in life just come together with a little help. Like heavily hinting you want Miss Partner to bring clippers on the last day of farm sitting so she can collect those elderberries hanging over the dirt road, but, maybe not, because I’m not sure when I can process them, but she does grab them and you are able to process them the following week and they stayed good in the refrigerator. And then there are those experiences when things don’t make logical sense, like you call Staples, ask them about their ink cat ridge recycling program, they reply, “$2 a cartridge,” that’s all, and you show up and they say you actually have to buy $30 dollars worth of ink to get your credit. Or your dad tells you about a sale on canning jars at Ace 2 for $14! and it turns out to just be the pint jars, not the smaller 8 ounce jars you actually want. These frustrations happened right after each other. I felt so betrayed. Why do I bother trying to save money going to these other stores when Amazon and the wonders of a Prime account will get these things for me with much less fuss and waste of time, delivered right to my door, and maybe soon by a drone!?

IMG_2331Can you believe I followed up this retail experience with processing elderberries for jam? Yes, yes, I did, but I like tedious, as you can see. Only halfway through the haul did I finally think to search the interwebs for methods of separating berries from stem (and I found this and this, one of my heroes also making elderberry jam, and wouldn’t you know it, these two bloggers know each other). I tried the fork method, but found it was a little slower and got smaller stems in the mix. I returned to the gentle massage between hands and the gentle twist using all my fingers. Still, took a while, but it did seem faster. As you might imagine, my hands have the appearance of playing with charcoal. So far, no amount of washing has removed the stains. Meanwhile, Krausen finds a new toy to play with; a lizard tail. So proud of him!IMG_2344

The other thing I noticed about elderberries was the smell. There is a beautiful bloom of wild yeast making the dark blue berries look frosted. I think the warmth of my hands might have heated up the yeast and caused the berries to smell a little like feet, but rinsing them reduced the smell, unless my olfactory receptors were already overwhelmed, reducing my continued experience of the funky smell.

IMG_2334The recipe is from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Miss Partner bought it to be prepared for the apocalypse when it comes (she’s not a conspiracy nut, really; no more than being prepared). Freaking fantastic book. Pectin and no pectin recipes. When I jam, I don’t seem to do great with the pectin. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong yet. So, yeah. Screw pectin. A really cool thing about no-pectin jams, you can half or double or adjust the recipe without fear your jam won’t gel! YES!

8 cups elderberries (my haul wasn’t 8 cups, it was 4. Perfect!)

0.25 cup vinegar (really? yeah, I know!)

6 cups sugar

IMG_2335Put it in a pot. Boil till thickened. For me, this took a really long time. Over an hour, but I was pretty gentle on the heat, because I was distracted by making a batch of apple butter (when I jam, I like to go all day! and get as many recipes as possible done. More efficient to keep that water bath hot). During the cooking, it smelled a little– uh, meaty? But maybe that was due to the adding the vinegar?Anyway. Gel test. Put in hot jars, headspace 0.25 inches, wipe rim, put hot lid and band finger-tight. Process in water bath 10 min. Remove from heat, remove lid. In 5 minutes take out jars and leave in place for 24 hours. More details in your canning book, if you’re not familiar with this process.

The taste. Yeah, I love Garrett’s description of the flavor. Blackberries and port, but deeper. And the texture; I may have cooked it too long because it’s like molasses at room temperature. Whatevs. It’s effing delicious, right Jeremy? Too bad there are only three jars.

IMG_2350I really had to include this picture in closing. Wade recently gifted me 49 jars that had been in his granny’s belongings. I love this little bit of history, even though there is apple butter in the jar now.



Entry filed under: Canning. Tags: , .

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