Appalachian Food Preserving/Canning

Blackberry Jelly

Blackberry jelly

Every summer we have a laundry list of items we want to make sure to put up for the coming winter. Some items we can get away with only doing every other summer-things like kraut and pickled beans and corn. Other items we do every summer because we usually run out before winter is over.

The one thing I cannot do without putting up every summer is blackberry jelly. There’s no other jelly for me. Oh I like other jellies too, but my go to favorite must have jelly is blackberry. I suppose it’s because I grew up with it.

It’s a taste that goes back to breakfast spread on Granny’s table and after school snacks of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with milk and reruns of Tom and Jerry.

This year I’ve been in blackberry heaven. Chatter has wore her little fingers out keeping me supplied with the black jewels. She likes blackberry jelly as much as I do.

Blackberry Jelly

  • 3 3/4 cup blackberry juice
  • 1 box surejel or other brand of pectin (if you’d rather not use store bought pectin you can do a quick google to find a recipe for the old way of making blackberry jelly and you can see where I gave it a try a few years ago here)
  • 4 1/2 cup sugar
  • jars, lids, rings

Blackberry jelly is one of the easiest things to make-the hard part takes place before you ever make the jelly. First there’s the fighting heat, bugs, snakes, bees, and briars for the blackberries. Then there’s the juicing of the blackberries.

Some folks prefer jam-and if you’re one of them-your jelly making will be easier. I’m not a fan of seeds so I try my best to get every last one out of my juice.

I start with cooking the blackberries about 20 minutes to get the juice flowing out of them. Every once in a while I’ll mash down the berries with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.

It takes about 2 and half quarts of blackberries to get the amount of juice needed for a run of jelly. But I don’t worry about whether they’ll be enough juice for a run of jelly-I just go ahead and cook them and see what I end up with.

Place blackberries in a large stock pot and add water until you can just begin to see it come up around the berries. Cook for 20 minutes.

Using a colander ricer in canning and preserving

Granny always used a hand turned foodmill for the first step of juicing the berries and that was what I used before Miss Cindy gifted me with a cone shaped colander ricer. I LOVE MY RICER!

Place blackberries in ricer or foodmill and try to get all the juice out of them. This step also gets most of the seeds out of the juice.

how to extract blackberry juice

To ensure all the seeds are removed I use my small sieve/strainer and a piece of cheese cloth to filter out any seeds which are left.

If you end up with enough juice for 2 recipes of blackberry jelly-double it! I have with very good luck. If you end up with extra but not enough for another recipe-pop it into the freezer until you get more juice. If you end up with almost enough-you can add water to increase the juice to the right amount or you could add another type of fruit juice to make up the difference.

How to make blackberry jelly

Place blackberry juice into a large pot; add surejel; stir well.

Cook mixture until it comes to a boil. Not sure there’s anything that smells as good as blackberry juice when it’s cooking.

Add sugar all at once and stir to combine.

Bring mixture back to a full rolling boil and boil one minute.

Sterilizing jars for jelly

While I’m waiting for my blackberry jelly to come to a boil I fix a pot of boiling water to sterilize my jars and rings in. Some folks like to sterilize theirs in the dishwasher or the oven-that works too.

Blackberry jelly recipe

Once jelly has boiled one minute quickly ladle into hot jars and seal with lids and rings. Set jelly upside for 5 minutes.

Turn jelly right side up and cover with a towel until sealed.

After jelly has cooled check to make sure all the jars have sealed-if one hasn’t don’t worry just put in the refrigerator and use it first.

There is a whole debate about whether you should water bath your jelly or not. I don’t-and feel comfortable doing it that way since I always have. If you’d rather water bath yours-do so for 5 minutes.

One recipe made the jars you see in the photo above-plus one more that I used immediately to make a jelly sandwich. 2 pint jars and 3 half-pint jars.



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  • Reply
    Sherry Gray
    June 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Blackberry is my favorite jelly too. I’ve canned jams, jellies and pickles my whole life. Last year I switched to a different pectin, Pomona, that I read about. It uses far less sugar and let’s the taste of the fruit shine through. I’m only using one and a quarter cups sugar to four cups juice.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    May 23, 2016 at 3:49 am

    When grandma took us to the woods she had us dress lightly with few tight clothes. She thought we woud get fewer Chigger bites that way.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    May 23, 2016 at 3:47 am

    We like our blackberry jelly too! We also make blackberry jam.
    Most often the jam winds up in the family cake — Blackberry Jam Cake. It is an old-fashioned spicy cake, iced with caramel frosting. We always bake it in square pans. It is decorated on top with nut halves, pecans are used lately. Three halves in each of the corners, four arranged in a cross in the center.
    It served at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. It is my birthday cake of choice. Finally, it had better show up at the family reunion! My aunt made iit when I was little, I made it for over 40 years, our son and grandkids make it now.
    My aunt didn’t have a written recipe. She was teaching me to make it, rummaging for a big cup and saying, “If you want a big cake, start with a big cup.” I converted it to standard measurements.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 20, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    You could make Mulberry Jelly the same way as this recipe here, and boy – is it ever tasty.
    We always called those strainers a Witch’s Cap strainer, it had a round ended wooden dowel that went with it to mash and strain things thoroughly in it. I remember it being used to make tomato juice to put up. (I see online now where they’re called China Cap colanders…whatever. LOL) I remember the chickens and pigs liked the leavings from it, so we were sure to save it for them in a slop bucket we kept in the uninsulated (cooler) summer kitchen off the back of the house.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 20, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I don’t know why but I have more Robins this year than I’ve ever seen. I’ve discovered they love Blackberries as well as I do and they have beat me to most of the Berries. Most of the ones I have seen are used ones on my cars and trucks.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Ed-the stand has 3 legs and I guess it is in an octagon shape. I’ve never used another one-so I’m not sure if the way mine is made is better or not. It is very sturdy. And like your first one its an old one. Not sure where Miss Cindy found it but it was used when she gave it to me several years ago. I hope you find another one! So frustrating that they don’t make things like they used too!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Mark Mojado
    July 20, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    We had some plants at my grams house,after she pasted my uncle got lazy plus water cost a lot in californa so he let them die off. But when they were around my mom would add a little suger mash them a little chill then put over ice cream,sooo goog !

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 20, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I have two of those cone shaped colander ricer things. One I bought about 35 years ago. It had a ¼ inch wire frame that would hold up to some heavy duty, put your shoulder into it, juicing and squeezing. A lot of apples, peaches, strawberries, blackberries, grapes, tomatoes, and other yummies went through that thing over the years.
    Then comes a spring about 5 years ago. I go to check it out in preparation for the next season. The cone shaped part was there. The frame and the wooden pestle were missing. Nobody in the house knows what happened to them. Not being one to let a minor mishap hold me back, I proceeded to make another pestle and to use it without the frame, which is much harder. Meanwhile I keep looking for another frame or a whole new set up. A couple of years ago I thought I had found one at a hardware store in Granite Falls. I bought it without taking it out of the box. When I got it home and unboxed it, it was a cheap imitation of the original. When I really put some force on it, the little legs just squatted. So now I am looking again. Maybe a thrift shop or yard sale will have one. Maybe someone who don’t know what a treasure they have will be willing to part with it. Maybe?
    Question: Your pestle looks like it is octagonal in shape. Is there an advantage to that shape over the round ones like mine are?

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I love blackberries anyway they’re
    fixed. It’s also my favorite jelly.
    Tomorrow I’ll start picking and
    storing as many as I can, if the
    birds, terrapins, and wild turkeys
    left me some. My little dog, Whisky
    will be by my side, just hope we
    don’t get in a jacket nest…Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    July 20, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    We used to pick every year down in the holler between our house & Granny’s. They were the biggest berries I’ve ever seen. They were pretty quick to pick because of their size & it was shady in the holler so it wasn’t bad work except for worrying about the snakes & the cows that were in that pasture. I was always afraid of cows. When Granny & Grandpa sold their place the new people had a cow that could escape even with a yoke on. They always were asking us for help getting her back in & telling us kids to “head her off” if she came our way. Some of my most fervent praying has been done that she wouldn’t run my way!! Your jelly looks delicious–I’ve never made jelly, just jam as my husband is one of those strange ones who likes seeds.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    July 20, 2015 at 10:44 am

    No wild blackberries in New Mexico. Sigh. When I lived in Oregon, wild blackberries were a “pest” that would have covered the state if the counties hadn’t hacked them back on the roadsides! A berry-lover’s paradise! I used to walk every morning and eat them, dew-spangled, from the bushes. My dog loved them, too, and she was expert in daintily nibbling berries without getting stuck by the thorns. My daughter’s horse liked them, too, and ate huge mouthfuls of the berry-laden branches — stems, thorns, and all!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    July 20, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Oh, how I miss the blackberries that grew behind my house in Florida. Even with competition from the neighborhood children, I always could pick as much as we could eat. Now I buy from the grocery store and they are very very expensive. I have looked without success for a place to pick them locally. Guess I will have to break down and plant some for myself — the utility right of way looks like a good spot…..

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    July 20, 2015 at 10:40 am

    What Miss Cindy says!
    Blackberry is our household favorite too and a much wanted Christmas gift from my kitchen.
    Our berries have not done well this year, cool start to the summer and lots of rain so the jelly runs have been kind of slow.
    Maybe now that we have our regular summer weather coming they will pick up.
    Those of us on Sunrise Ridge hope so!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 9:55 am

    That is a great recipe. It is so good to know that when and if I have access to a lot of cabbage , blackberries, etc. I can go right to your blog, Tipper, for recipes. Matter of fact that is how I first discovered your informative, interesting blog.
    We used to pick unbelievable amounts of wild strawberries as a child, and Mom made strawberry preserves. Many school lunches were packed with strawberry preserves and peanut butter. I will not eat preserves/jelly to this day, but Grandson loves it. However, I still love the peanut butter. I guess the repetitive eating as a child either makes you crave it or hate it.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I passed up the blackberries at our annual blackberry festival this year. Now I’m sorry; I really enjoy blackberry jam. Yummy!

  • Reply
    Gina S
    July 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Blackberry jam on a piping hot biscuit puts a smile on my face.

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    July 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Nothing better. One of my friends freezes her fruit and makes small fresh batches all winter. We trade jelly and homemade bread.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 20, 2015 at 8:47 am

    I love wild blackberries! Been doing my own picking this summer. I have made jam and syrup for pancakes, but haven’t tried jelly.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Blackberry jelly is my favorite, too. I remember the old lady I bought the farm from had picked several buckets of berries the first day I visited here. She said she put on long pants and a long sleeved shirt to keep the bugs and snakes from biting. She spent hours picking berries with just her dog for protection. I have a four wheeler and cell phone she didn’t have to take berry picking with her but I’m still not as brave as she was. How times have changed! It’s not the bugs and snakes that I’m afraid of when I venture too far from the house. I have only found a hand full of blackberries in the last few years.

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    July 20, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Tipper, like you I love blackberry jelly. My mother made a zillion jars each summer (there was nine children), and we had it with hot biscuits almost every morning. We kids picked the berries and they weren’t the hybrid kind, but we picked many gallons. Now, sad to say, we buy our jelly in the grocery store.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    July 20, 2015 at 8:37 am

    YUM-YUM! I love blackberries!!! I like to make blackberry jam and I don’t mind the seeds. The seeds let me know that it truly is blackberry jam LOL.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 20, 2015 at 8:26 am

    I suspect the confidence of being able to live off the land had everything to do with the tide of immigration passing into and over the Appalachians. That thread still runs through us with gathering wild edibles, home canning and all the other examples of do-it-yourself. The song ‘A Country Boy Can Survive’ celebrates that heritage.
    I sometimes call myself a hunter-gatherer because I have always liked gathering any kind of wild edibles. I get a great satisfaction out of it but I can’t really explain why. I hope we as a people never get beyond that self-reliance.
    I planted 5 tame blackberry several years ago. The deer keep them browsed back such that they have never had much chance until one ran a root under the garden fence and formed a patch the deer can’t reach. I’ve discovered what I feel like I should have known, that they only bear on two-year old canes. Now waiting to find out how long they continue bearing but I think it should be possible to set up a 2-3 year rotation.

  • Reply
    Bob and Inez Jones
    July 20, 2015 at 8:19 am

    We don’t have a lot of blackberries in our area but I do love them and do jelly when I can get them at a local market. Yours looks so good!! Thanks.

  • Reply
    barbara Gantt
    July 20, 2015 at 8:13 am

    I grew up helping pick blackberrys. When we moved to Vermont, I was so happy to find out that blackberries grew here. Then when we bought our house, there were blackberry plants here. I love blackberry jelly, cobblers. I freeze them for winter.
    Now, I make low sugar blackberry jelly. It is my sons favorite.
    I have also make it the old way with just sugar and blackberry juice. You have to cook it a long time but is delicious. I found the recipe in the Foxfire cookbook. My Mom said that my Granny Nichols made it that way. Barbara

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 7:43 am

    I heard about one lady who tried to double the recipe and failed because she could double the ingredients but her oven wouldn’t go to 700 degrees.

  • Reply
    Glynn Harris
    July 20, 2015 at 7:30 am

    Good grief lady….you sure do make stuff look good!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 20, 2015 at 7:17 am

    There is nothing so pretty or satisfying as jars of fresh homemade jelly sparkling in the sunlight!

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