Blackberry Raspberry Pie Filling

When I saw a recipe for raspberry pie filling in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, I have to admit that I was fairly skeptical as to how well it would turn out. It’s a recipe with ClearJel, and if you’ve ever used ClearJel, you know what a gooey mess it can become. I was unsure how well I could maintain the integrity of such a delicate berry, but of course, that didn’t stop me – challenge accepted. So I thought what I’d try was just making one jar at a time. Since I had picked raspberries and blackberries on this particular day, I made a jar of raspberry, a jar of blackberry, and a jar of half and half. I am actually pretty happy with how it turned out! For the recipe I ended up following the extension publication, which was pretty much the same as Ball, but it gives amounts  for 1 or 7 quarts – Fruit Pie Fillings extension pub linked to here.

Ingredients (for just one quart):

3 1/3 cups raspberries or blackberries (or a combination)
1 cup sugar (I reduced to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp ClearJel
1 1/3 cups cold water or fruit juice
1 tbsp + 1 tsp bottled lemon juice

Here’s how it’s made:

Prepare your canner, jars, and lids. Combine the sugar and ClearJel in a large pot and stir. Remember, you can safely reduce the ClearJel or sugar, if desired, so make one jar, see how you like it, and adjust accordingly next time. The lemon juice (added later), should not be reduced.

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Add water or juice, and cook mixture over medium high heat. It will initially get thick in chunks, and will smooth out to look how it does below. For a few more pictures check out my Cherry Pie Filling recipe.

Once the mixture is thick and bubbling, add the lemon juice and boil for one more minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning.

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Remove from heat, and gently fold in the berries.

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Doing just one jar I was able to keep the berries fairly unsquished, but if you go for the full canner load of 7 quarts, I make no guarantees. I have done a full batch of blueberries though, and with their firmer texture it works beautifully. The blackberries might be ok too, but I have my doubts on the raspberries. However, mushy would still be tasty!

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Immediately fill the hot quart jars, leaving a full 1 inch headspace, or perhaps even slightly more. ClearJel will expand a bit and you don’t want to risk jars not sealing over cramming in a couple extra berries. Wipe rims, apply lids, and tighten bands finger tip tight.

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Process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 30 minutes (0 – 1000 feet elevation).

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After processing, remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes, and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel. Cool 12-24 hours, check seals, label, and store. Below I have the raspberry on the left, blackberry on the right, and the 50:50 combo pie in the middle. Can’t wait to make these into pie!!

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Chocolate Raspberry Sundae Topper

Raspberries are, in the view of many people I know, so precious that it’s hard to even want to preserve them; it’s best to just gorge on them until your tongue hurts, and eat them fresh while they are in season. I can totally understand that perspective since it’s hard to preserve the delicate texture and the amazing fresh taste of raspberries, but since I picked few buckets full two weekends in a row, I wanted to preserve some of them. I made some homemade raspberry ice cream following this recipe from the blog the view from great island, and made this chocolate raspberry sundae topper from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to go on top. It is deeeeelish and a great treat for chocolate lovers.

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 package regular fruit pectin
4 1/2 cups crushed raspberries
4 tbsp lemon juice
6 3/4 cups sugar

Here’s how it’s made:

Prepare your canner, jars, and lids. This recipe yields 6-7 half pints. Combine the cocoa powder and pectin in a bowl and set aside.

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Mash the berries and measure into a large pot. Add the lemon juice and stir.

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Whisk in the pectin/cocoa mixture.

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Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Once at a full boil, add the sugar all at once, return to a boil, and boil hard for one minute.

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So lovely, and delicious.

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Fill your hot jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and bands, and tighten finger tip tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner, covered by at least an inch or two of water for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, remove jars, cool, and store.

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This sundae topper makes a delightful gift for the ice cream lover in your life. I bet it would also be really good on a light cake – I think I need to try it. The only thing I may change if I did this again would be to potentially reduce the pectin. It sets pretty firmly, which for a “sundae topper” seemed sort of unnecessary. Next time I might halve it for a less firm set.

Have any raspberries you’re wanting to preserve in a unique and interesting way? Try this out and let me know what you think!

 

 

July Garden Tour

We’ve been having nearly 100 degree heat the past week or so and the garden is love love loving it. Here’s a little tour! It’s amazing how much has changed since my June 1 garden tour.

Tomatoes loving the heat.

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Broccoli. Wishing I got it in earlier because this heat’s not doing it any favours.

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The first few roma VF tomatoes.

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Pepper experiment is looking awesome! They are also loving the heat. So far I’d say no differences between the pepper sizes, however they are about to that size where the competition within a pot of multiple peppers might be starting to matter. Soon we’ll have peppers coming out our ears!

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The first bell pepper.

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The first jalapeno.

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More tomatoes. I am really making an effort to prune this year and keep them better guided into their cages than in previous years. I think it’s going well.

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The whole yard. I think I do pretty well with the little space I have :)

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Pretty purple pole beans.

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Purple!!

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Climb climb climb.

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More tomatoes, basil, and calendula.

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The chaos of a calendula, tomatoes that grew from seed on their own, and some dill that also grew on it’s own.

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Brandywine tomato.

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Carrots and cucs.

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The cucumbers are also loving this heat. I planted the exact same cucumbers as the last two years, like from the same exact seed packet, and the leaves of these plants are HUGE compared to last year. It’s going to be a gooooood cuc year.

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Babies!

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Massive zuch!

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Beets that really need to be eaten.

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Indigo rose tomatoes.

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Peas are dying, so I’m going to pull them shortly and plant some more beans. I’m definitely doing a better jobs at succession planting this year too.

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And that’s all folks! Having a good garden year?

Blackberry Cabernet Jam

Last weekend after picking a ton of blackberries I was thinking about what delicious blackberry creation I could come up with, and was reminded of the strawberry Pinot Noir jam that I made two summers ago. Blackberries and wine? Yes please! That sounds like a great idea. Blackberries are bold though, I thought to myself, they need a bolder wine, thus was born the blackberry Cabernet jam. This jam is a real time commitment, as it is pectin free, and has an entire bottle of wine in it. However, if you’re feeling slightly more impatient the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving does have a berry wine jelly using liquid pectin that you could whip up faster. Alternatively, make a half batch and drink the other half of the wine.

Ingredients:
15 cups blackberries
2.5 cups sugar
One bottle of your favourite Cabernet Sauvignon or other bold wine
1 tbsp of lemon juice

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Here’s what I did:

Prepare the canner, jars, and lids (and by prepare I really mean start pondering it, because you actually won’t need to prepare for like 4 more hours). Depending on how long you cook this jam, it will yield about 6-8 pints. Mash the berries to your preferred level of mashiness in a large pot, and add the sugar, wine, and lemon juice. Leave a small amount of wine in the bottom of the bottle to sip on while you bring the jam to a boil.

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Bring to a boil over medium/high heat. Reduce and maintain a gentle boil for a good many hours, stirring occasionally. I think I ended up cooking this for nearly 5 hours. Be patient, or play with adding some liquid pectin of you want a firmer set. Near the end of the cook time, pay close attention to avoid any burning on the bottom of the pot.

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Fill hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids, and tighten bands finger tip tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

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Deeeeelicious. And oh so pretty. Now who wants to host a cocktail party or wine night so that I can bring some of this jam? ;)

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Boozy Infusions and a Homemade Strawberry Daiquiri

If you enjoy the occasional cocktail, as I do, a great way to improve a cheap bottle of vodka (or I bet this would be good with gin too) is to infuse the vodka with your favourite berry or fruit. It’s so simple, and so delicious. All you need to do is fill a jar about 3/4 full with the fruit of your choice, and cover with vodka. If you like, you can first add a bit of sugar to the fruit, shake the jar to cover the fruit, let sit a few minutes, and then add the vodka. I did this only with the rhubarb, because it helps draw the moisture out of the rhubarb a bit more. Most berries are plenty sweet and give up their juices easily, so in my opinion don’t need the added sugar.

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Close the jars, give them a shake, and wait. The strawberry and raspberry that I made actually tasted pretty good after only a few days, but I’d leave rhubarb a bit longer. I left them all a couple of weeks before straining. Occasionally, when you pass them and think of it, give the jar a shake.

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Gorgeous!

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Taste it every few days, or just leave it for a couple weeks. After the taste of the vodka meets your satisfaction, strain the fruit through cheesecloth or or a coffee filter.

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Straining the rhubarb vodka.

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A few weeks later, host a delightful cocktail party! ;) Mix with tonic water and enjoy.

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With the vodka soaked strawberries I decided to make a homemade daiquiri. All I did was combine the berries with about 8 ice cubes, a splash of lime juice, and a tiny bit of sugar and blended it up in the blender. Oh man. So good. I could probably use the blueberries for something delicious too, but the rhubarb I’m not sure. Add it to a pie?

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Infuse your booze!

A “berry” good weekend – things to do with strawberries

Believe it or not, strawberry season is wrapping up here next week! So sad! However, I did do a pretty good job taking advantage of the berries this year. We bought a chest freezer, so I’ve frozen a bunch, and I did some dehydrating, canning, and wine making with the rest last weekend. A berry good weekend indeed. For many of you, berry season is probably just beginning, but whether this is your last week, or first, here is some inspiration for things to do with your berries.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling – my first blog post ever, and still one of my favourite recipes. The universe is telling us to put these two awesome items together by having them mature at the same time – you should really listen.

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Strawberry Fruit Leather – Since this post, I’ve learned adding some apple sauce or other more fibrous fruit helps with the cracking and crispiness issue. But I also still love it with just strawberries.

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Strawberry jam – a classic favourite of course. Or on the wilder side, add some wine to your jam and try this strawberry pinot noir jam.

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Strawberry wine – heck yes! It’s really not as hard as it seems by the length of the post. You should really really try it. Shorter, point form directions coming soon to entice you more, since not all of you have the attention span for this novel of a post.

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Or a non-alcoholic beverage  (or alcohol optional I should say) – strawberry lemonade concentrate!

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Got a couple handfuls left over still? Flavour some vinegar (or vodka? Post coming soon on that, but it’s basically the same as vinegar)

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Now go, quickly, before they are gone!! Pick some berries! Eat some berries! Can some berries! Dry some berries! Love the berries! And don’t forget to eat some fresh – sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in preservation.  And lay off the caffeine! (Oh wait, that one’s for me.)

June 1 Garden Tour

Wow – June already!? How time flies. The garden is all planted and I’m so ready for summer, so I thought I’d give you a little tour of this year’s garden. 14 tomato plants this year, which I am super excited about, but unfortunately since I plant so many I don’t really rotate my crops. Sigh – one day I’ll have some land and do this right! I think I do pretty well with the space I have though.

Up first – tomatoes of course. My first year starting from seed was an awesome success. I mulched around them with grass last time we cut the grass.

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More tomatoes and a ton of broccoli. Unfortunately I planted much later than I wanted for the broccoli, so hopefully it doesn’t bolt.

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Tomato, spinach, lettuce, beans and peas. And the gigantic parsley that survived the winter.

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Peas and beets.

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Lettuce and spinach in boxes. The lettuce seems much happier than the spinach.

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Peppers in pots! I am excited about this because I ended up turning it into an experiment. Yep, I’m a dork like that. I got pretty big (16″, 32 quarts of dirt) pots, and thought, “I wonder if I could grow multiple peppers in each pot and still get a good yield?” So being the dork I am, decided I’d grow 1, 2 or 3 peppers per pot and track the yield to find out. Stay tuned!!

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One pepper per pot – King if the North bell pepper and jalapeno.

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Three peppers per pot. Obviously going to be more crowded than recommended, but how will the yield compare to a pepper with its own pot?

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Carrots and cucs.

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Potato box.

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Self seeded tomatoes and dill woo woo.

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How’s your garden growing?