Blackberry Apple Jelly

This is the time of year I make my Blackberry Apple Jelly. I have to wait until there is a certain apple out because it’s the only one I like to use. We have these fantastic and scrumptious Honeycrisp Apples that are usually harvested starting in September. I use the Honeycrisp for anything apple for as long as they are available. The blackberries were picked in late July or August (I honestly don’t remember when) and then frozen until Honeycrisp season rolled around. This jelly is so popular that I can’t keep family and friends supplied with it.

First you need 3 pounds of blackberries. I usually pick a ton and then freeze them in about 3 or 4 cup portions. You’ll also need 7 to 8 medium apples, Honeycrisp are pretty large so I think I ended up using 6.

Rinse the blackberries and drain. Put them in a 4 quart pot with 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Line a strainer with four layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl.  I couldn’t find cheesecloth so I picked up a couple of cheap flour sack dishcloths and used those. Worked like a charm. Now of course it’s the only thing they are good for. Sorry, missed taking some pictures at the very beginning but here is the blackberry pulp draining into a bowl.

Let stand for about 30 minutes or until the pulp is completely drained. Reserve juice and discard pulp.

Next up is preparing the apple juice. Remove and discard the stems and the flowery parts of your apples. You don’t need to peel or core them, it’s just going to add some extra flavor to your juice. Cut the apples into small pieces, I did about 2 inch pieces or so. Put the pieces in a 4 quart (or larger is fine) pot and add just enough water to cover the apples. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Strain through a cheesecloth lined strainer. Reserve juice and discard pulp.

While everything is draining I’m usually getting everything else ready. You need to have at least 8 or 9 glass 1/2-pint jars with lids. Make sure the screw lids and jars are cleaned thoroughly. These are the main items you’ll need:

4 cups of your reserved juice – this time I used 2 1/2 cups apple juice and 1 1/2 cups blackberry juice. Other times I’ve done 2 cups of each.

8 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 pouches (3 oz each) liquid fruit pectin

jars and lids

You will also need to get a huge pot of boiling water going because the jelly will end up taking a hot bath later. Get it started right away. I have a huge pot made especially for canning with a nice little rack that slips the jars down into the hot water.

I also have these handy little items. A wide mouth funnel, jar tongs and a soup ladle. The first time I made jelly I didn’t have anything other than the soup ladle, it made a mess but it worked. I would add to my little collection a little bit every year. It doesn’t cost that much and is well worth the investment if you plan on doing a lot of canning.

The last thing I do before I finally start making the jelly is get the pectin ready. You have to work fast and won’t have time to fumble with opening the little packets. So I have them ready by cutting open the tops and carefully standing them up in a glass. That way when it is time to dump in the pectin I’m ready.

You will also need to prepare the lids ahead of time. I boil some water and pour it over the lids in a small bowl.

Finally! Time to start cooking.

Put the 4 cups of the reserved juice in a large pot, I use my 8 quart pot, lots of room and no worries about boiling over. Dump in the 8 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Stir mixture and then bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. A rolling boil is when everything is boiling so hard that stirring it doesn’t disturb it. Not the best photo but here it is doing a rolling boil

Once it starts the rolling boil it’s time to add the pectin. Dump it all in at once and return to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. After it starts the rolling boil let it boil for one minute, stirring constantly. I have my timer set and ready and as soon as it start rolling I hit the timer button. Remove from the heat and skim off foam, if you have any, which I always seem to have.

Carefully ladle hot mixture into your jars making sure to leave about a 1/4 inch headspace. Basically it means don’t fill it all the way to the top, it could prove disastrous later on.

Yeah I know, I’m a messy cook!

Wipe the rims of the jar. You don’t want any lingering spots of jelly interfering with the seal of your jar. Place lids on jars and then the screw bands and tighten. Place in the rack of your boiling water pot and immerse. Process for 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes is up pull the jars from the boiling water and dry off. Now you wait until you hear the lids pop. I’m always so excited when I hear that distinctive pop. It means your jars have sealed properly and you don’t have to try it again. I love that sound, even my son smiles and tells me “there goes another one mom”

You can tell the lids have sealed properly when you run your finger across the top of it, you’ll feel that it is slightly indented instead of bulging out.

After looking at this batch I know it’s not county fair worthy. I can see some air bubbles, I didn’t get all the foam off it so there is a tiny bit of sediment in there, but you know what? Who cares! It tastes great!

Here is the recipe in full.

Blackberry Apple Jelly

3 lbs blackberries (about 2 1/2 quarts)

1 1/4 cups water

7 to 8 medium apples

Additional water

Bottle apple juice, optional

1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

8 cups sugar

2 pouches (3 oz each) liquid fruit pectin

In a Dutch oven, bring blackberries and water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes. Line a strainer with four layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Place berry mixture in strainer; cover with edges of cheesecloth. Let stand for 30 minutes or until strained, reserving juice and discarding pulp.
Remove and discard stems and blossom ends from apples (do not pare or core); cut into small pieces. Place in the Dutch oven; add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, reserving juice and discarding pulp.
Measure the reserved blackberry and apple juices; return to the pan. If necessary, add water or bottled apple juice to equal 4 cups. Stir in lemon juice, then sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin; return to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat; skim off foam. Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 9 half-pints.

A couple of additional notes. The recipe calls for extra apple juice if necessary. I’ve never had to worry about it, I always have more than enough, you just need to make sure you use plenty of apples. I have extra blackberry and apple juice left so I refrigerated it and plan on making another batch tonight. This time it should take less than hour total because I have the juice already.