Philip and I are in the empty nest stage of life. While one of my daughters live close by, all the rest of our children are scattered across the United States. My youngest daughter, Faith Hardy and her new husband, Stephen came down from Tennessee to spend the weekend with family and friends. While they had a busy schedule over the weekend, she wanted to go blackberry picking at a local organic farm. A whole group of us tagged along to spend as much time with them as we could. I was especially excited to pick berries as I had my heart set on making blackberry jam.
Locally Owned Blackberry Farm
Faith found a local, family-owned farm that specializes in blackberries called BearTracks Blackberry Farm. Like many small family farms, the cost of becoming certified organic is too expensive, but they do grow their berries pesticide and chemical free. The farmer told us that this thornless variety is from the University of Arkansas. He also shared the names of each of the varieties that we picked. You could tell, he took great pride in his farm and enjoyed sharing it with others.
A much-needed storm was coming in, so we didn’t linger in the fields, I was on a mission! I wanted to pick at least enough blackberries to make jam. Philip really likes blackberries, so he also worked diligently to fill his berry boxes. We have one blackberry plant at the house, which is enough for nibbling, but not enough to put up any of the berries. We each picked two full boxes in our short visit and together filled a fifth box.
As we quickly checked out as the thunder boomed overhead and the raindrops started to fall, the owner gave us the official BearTracks Blackberry Cobbler recipe. He also gave me several clippings with berries on them. He told me to put them in water and watch them finish ripening. The berries ripened within a few days and I got to enjoy a few extra.
Blackberry Jam: Preserving our Bounty
Later at home, I dug out all the canning supplies and prepared to begin making blackberry jam. I decided to use the “Summer Kitchen”, meaning the grill outside on the deck as not to heat up the house for hours while I sterilized jars and processed the jam.
As the water bath canner heated up, I washed the jars and prepared the lids. Next I gathered all my supplies. I had set aside 2 boxes of berries to use in the jam. I began mashing the berries with a potato masher. Just as soon as I got started, the storm hit our area and I was forced to delay my canning. I went ahead and mashed up all the berries, while I waited for the storm to pass.
While I had intended to only make one batch of blackberry jam, I had enough to make two batches, so I went ahead and doubled the batch. I must admit, mashing berries was harder than I thought. Not that its hard by any means, but it did take a bit more pressure than I expected.
Once the storm passed, I went back outside to continue canning. I added the sugar and butter to the berries as called for in the recipe. It’s crazy how much sugar goes into jelly. I really want to learn more about low sugar methods. However, on the fly, I will stick to the recipe provided in the pectin box.
Outside in the summer kitchen my blackberry jam was beginning to cook, I was diligently stirring. However, the storm circled around again. This time I moved my efforts inside, continuing to make the jam in the RV.
Realities of RV Cooking
Cooking in an RV can be challenging. I joke that the kitchen in my last house prepared me for RV living. Prior to living in the RV, I had the smallest kitchen of my entire life. While I have all the needed kitchen appliances in the RV, space is tight. Counter space in my RV is very limited. I use the sink covers to increase counter space on occasion. The stove top is also small, so even though there are three burners, I find that two are about all I can use at one time. While I know that sounds like I am complaining, I am not trying to, I’m trying to paint a more vivid picture of challenges of cooking in an RV kitchen.
My mother-in-law, Joy, asked me later why I didn’t just go use the kitchen in her house, but I really want to make my kitchen work. Before marrying Phillip, I lived in an RV for over two years. I really have determined that living in an RV would not change my ability to cook, I just need to be more creative. We are also looking at living in an RV for several years as we build our house, so adapting to cooking in the RV is really important. Someday in the future when we move into our log home, I’ll get to use my dream kitchen in my forever home, it will be worth making the adaptations work! For now, the summer kitchen helps.
Processing the Blackberry Jam
Once the blackberry jam came to a rolling boil and boiled the appropriate amount of time, I tested the set of a spoon full of jam in a small bowl. Once satisfied the jam in the test bowl will set appropriately, its time to proceed with canning. I filled the jars, careful to clean the rims before adding the lids and hand tightening the rings. The jars were processed in the water bath canner for 10 minutes. As I took the jars out, they began pinging right away, indicating the jars were sealing.
I’m not providing a recipe for blackberry jam as I did not create it. I simply used the instructions that were provided in the pectin box that I purchased. The instructions provided always include both recipes for canning or freezer methods.
Join Me in the Summer Kitchen as I Make Blackberry Jam
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.
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I have no affiliation with BearTracks Blackberry Farm and I receive no commission. Support local!