Real food Homemade Blackberry Honey Jam!

If you read this blog with any regularity you know about my struggle with my weight, and  how recently (the end of April) I started my family on a mission to change our eating habits from a regular diet to eating real, organic foods.

In August we made some really yummy strawberry honey jam.  A few days later we decided to be even more adventurous and made some Blackberry honey jam!  It is so good.  I did leave the seeds in the jam.  Some people like to remove the seeds, but I am okay with leaving them in.

Now in order to can, you will need certain tools. The “must have” tools are:

  • Jars (of course) – I prefer the jars without shoulders. I buy them at the local grocery store.  For jelly I use the small jelly jars, and for tomatoes I use pint sized jars, or wide mouth pint size jars.  canningjarsbox
  • Ball Utensil set.  This set has a funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, and bubble remover tool. I don’t really use the bubble remover tool, but everything else is essential. This set can be easily purchased online for about $10.00, if you can’t find it locally.ballutensilset
  • A Large pot.  I actually purchased a canning pot online because was able to purchase the pot with a rack and all the above pictured tools for about $40.00.  I didn’t want to mess with a pressure canner, and this does the job quite well.
  • canner
  • A ladle or big spoon to spoon your ingredients into the jars.
  • An analog or digital scale.  Many ingredients need to be measured.  Mine is not an expensive one.  I bought it from my lovely Pampered Chef consultant for about $30.00
  • A potato masher.  You will want your fruits to be mashed so your jam is “jammy” and not just cooked fruit. (I received a kitchen “power tool” for Christmas last year and used that to smash my fruit, but a good old potato masher is perfectly good as well)

Blackberry-Honey Jam recipe

  • 3 pounds of organic blackberries
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Rinse the blackberries.  Place them in a large pot on the stove over medium high heat.  (I used my caldero, but any nice large pot will do).  Add the honey to the pot.  Grate the apple (including the skin) down to the core and add to the berry honey mixture.  Add the lemon juice.  Stir it together and heat to boiling.

Once it is boiling, turn the heat down a bit so it is a light boil, and cook for 30 to 60 minutes.  The time variation really depends on how thick you want your jam.  The longer you boil, the thicker it will become.  However, this recipe will not be as thick as store bought jams, or jams with pectin.  Scrape down the sides of the pot as the fruit cooks.  It will burst while cooking, so don’t worry if that happens.

Mash the berries with a potato masher.  Some foam will form on top of the berries as they are cooking.  Some people skim it off and discard it.  I just stirred it in, and didn’t worry about it.  The taste of the jam is the same either way.

Meanwhile fill the canning pot ¾ full with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Be sure to wash all jar pieces in hot soapy water first.

Once the water is boiling turn off the heat. Test the temperature with your thermometer and when it reaches 180 degrees F put the jars, bands and lids into the pot. Leave everything in the hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.

When the jam is done cooking do a taste test to make sure the thickness and flavor is to your liking.

Remove the first jar from the hot water using your jar lifter tool and shake out excess water. Don’t touch inside of the jar in order to keep it sterilized. Insert clean canning funnel and ladle the jam into the jar leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top (this is where the headspace tool can come in handy – leaving more space at the top might not give as good of a seal). If there are any air bubbles you can slide a clean knife along the inside of the jar to remove them. Using a clean rag wipe excess off the outside of the jar and rim.

Using a magnetic lid lifter pull the first lid out of the hot water and set on top of the jar without touching the bottom of it. Then while only touching the outside of the band screw it onto the jar just firmly enough so it doesn’t feel wobbly on the grooves. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Process the Jars: Bring large pot of water back to a boil. Using your jar lifter (or canning rack) carefully lower as many jars that will fit without overcrowding into the boiling water so they are covered by at least 1 – 2 inches of water. I use a rack inside the canner, so the jars do not directly touch the bottom of the pot (so hot water can flow beneath them). From the moment the water is boiling and the entire first batch of jars are submerged set the timer and process them for 10 minutes.

When 10 minutes is over use the jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the water. Put them on the counter and don’t move them right away. You will hear your jar lids “popping” which means they have been sealed properly. If jars aren’t sealed within 12 hours then move them to the fridge and eat within 3 – 4 weeks.

Remove bands from sealed jars and with a clean, wet cloth wipe off any jam that has congealed on the outside rim of the jar. This prevents mold from forming on the band. The band can be reapplied, but don’t screw them on too tightly.

Label jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.

Tools for jam making
Tools for jam making
washed blackberries
washed blackberries

honey

 

appleforjam
organic gala apple for jam
in the pot ready to go.
in the pot ready to go.
berries and honey
berries and honey
berries, honey, apple and lemon juice.  Let's get cooking!
berries, honey, apple and lemon juice. Let’s get cooking!

bberiscooking

 

almost ready
almost ready

 

 

 

The power tool I received for Christmas last year.  I used to mash the berries, leaving some yummy chunks!
The power tool I received for Christmas last year. I used to mash the berries, leaving some yummy chunks!
after blending (mashing)
after blending (mashing)

 

lids and jars in canner
lids and jars in canner

funnelinjar

 

bberryjaminjars

 

lidsoutofcanner

 

wipe the jars before putting on lids
wipe the jars before putting on lids

 

lidonbberry

 

processing
processing

 

all processed (and some already eaten0
all processed (and some already eaten)
my breakfast today!  YUM!
my breakfast today! YUM!

bberyjaontoast

mmmmm
mmmmm
so good!
so good!

There are so many great things about this jam.  It is made from organic ingredients, it has no refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, it is only about 25 calories per tablespoon compared to 56 for commercial jam, and it is so good!

When I told people I was making homemade jam they were like, “You must have lots of free time!”.  To be honest this was so much easier than I expected and SO yummy!! I am already planning blueberry, raspberry, and any other combination I can think of!  Homemade jam all winter long!! YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Food: Strawberry Honey Jam

If you read this blog with any regularity you know about my struggle with my weight, and  how recently (the end of April) I started my family on a mission to change our eating habits from a regular diet to eating real, organic foods.

When I made the switch I was incredibly worried about how my boys were going to react, and whether or not they would like the food.  I will say that they have honestly said they prefer it!  Well, at least 95% of it!  LOL  Joe Cool has said that he doesn’t car for the All Natural Cookie Dough ice cream because it is “grainy”, but The Genius has eaten the entire container, so I guess different palates like different things.

We changed our diet, and started eating organic produce, organic chicken, organic diary products and grass fed beef.  Along with all of this, I started canning more.  I had my first experience canning last year when I canned plain tomatoes from my garden, as well as canning stewed tomatoes. 

This year I decided to try my hand at making and canning Jam.  I did some research and saw that most recipes called for pectin and LOTS of sugar!  That was NOT what I wanted to add back in to my diet, so I did more research and saw that lots of people (especially this with organic or real food websites) were using apples to help thicken the jam, and honey to sweeten.  I read that pectin actually adds sugar to the jam, and decided not to use either pectin or sugar.

Now in order to can, you will need certain tools. The “must have” tools are:

  • Jars (of course) – I prefer the jars without shoulders. I buy them at the local grocery store.  For jelly I use the small jelly jars, and for tomatoes I use pint sized jars, or wide mouth pint size jars.  canningjarsbox
  • Ball Utensil set.  This set has a funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, and bubble remover tool. I don’t really use the bubble remover tool, but everything else is essential. This set can be easily purchased online for about $10.00, if you can’t find it locally.ballutensilset
  • A Large pot.  I actually purchased a canning pot online because was able to purchase the pot with a rack and all the above pictured tools for about $40.00.  I didn’t want to mess with a pressure canner, and this does the job quite well.
  • canner
  • A ladle or big spoon to spoon your ingredients into the jars.
  • An analog or digital scale.  Many ingredients need to be measured.  Mine is not an expensive one.  I bought it from my lovely Pampered Chef consultant for about $30.00
  • A potato masher.  You will want your fruits to be mashed so your jam is “jammy” and not just cooked fruit. (I received a kitchen “power tool” for Christmas last year and used that to smash my fruit, but a good old potato masher is perfectly good as well)

Strawberry Jam recipe

  • 3 pounds of organic strawberries
  • 1.5 cup raw honey
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Rinse the strawberries, cut off the stem and cut them in half.  Place them in a large pot on the stove over medium high heat.  (I used my caldero, but any nice large pot will do).  Add the honey to the pot.  Grate the apple (including the skin) down to the core and add to the berry honey mixture.  Add the lemon juice.  Stir it together and heat to boiling.

Once it is boiling, turn the heat down a bit so it is a light boil, and cook for 30 to 60 minutes.  The time variation really depends on how thick you want your jam.  The longer you boil, the thicker it will become.  However, this recipe will not be as thick as store bought jams, or jams with pectin.  Scrape down the sides of the pot as the fruit cooks.  It will burst while cooking, so don’t worry if that happens.

Mash the berries with a potato masher.  Some foam will form on top of the berries as they are cooking.  Some people skim it off and discard it.  I just stirred it in, and didn’t worry about it.  The taste of the jam is the same either way.

Meanwhile fill the canning pot ¾ full with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Be sure to wash all jar pieces in hot soapy water first.

Once the water is boiling turn off the heat. Test the temperature with your thermometer and when it reaches 180 degrees F put the jars, bands and lids into the pot. Leave everything in the hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.

When the jam is done cooking do a taste test to make sure the thickness and flavor is to your liking.

Remove the first jar from the hot water using your jar lifter tool and shake out excess water. Don’t touch inside of the jar in order to keep it sterilized. Insert clean canning funnel and ladle the jam into the jar leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top (this is where the headspace tool can come in handy – leaving more space at the top might not give as good of a seal). If there are any air bubbles you can slide a clean knife along the inside of the jar to remove them. Using a clean rag wipe excess off the outside of the jar and rim.

Using a magnetic lid lifter pull the first lid out of the hot water and set on top of the jar without touching the bottom of it. Then while only touching the outside of the band screw it onto the jar just firmly enough so it doesn’t feel wobbly on the grooves. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Process the Jars: Bring large pot of water back to a boil. Using your jar lifter (or canning rack) carefully lower as many jars that will fit without overcrowding into the boiling water so they are covered by at least 1 – 2 inches of water. I use a rack inside the canner, so the jars do not directly touch the bottom of the pot (so hot water can flow beneath them). From the moment the water is boiling and the entire first batch of jars are submerged set the timer and process them for 10 minutes.

When 10 minutes is over use the jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the water. Put them on the counter and don’t move them right away. You will hear your jar lids “popping” which means they have been sealed properly. If jars aren’t sealed within 12 hours then move them to the fridge and eat within 3 – 4 weeks.

Remove bands from sealed jars and with a clean, wet cloth wipe off any jam that has congealed on the outside rim of the jar. This prevents mold from forming on the band. The band can be reapplied, but don’t screw them on too tightly.

Label jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.

Tools for jam making
Tools for jam making
Strawberries rinsed
Strawberries rinsed

sberriesin pan

honey

strawberries and honey in pot
strawberries and honey in pot
appleforjam
organic gala apple for jam
Everybody is in the pot ready!
Everybody is in the pot ready!
Ready to cook!
Ready to cook!
The power tool I received for Christmas last year.  I used to mash the berries, leaving some yummy chunks!
The power tool I received for Christmas last year. I used to mash the berries, leaving some yummy chunks!
Ready for the jars
Ready for the jars
lids and jars in canner
lids and jars in canner

funnelinjar

jaminjars

lidsoutofcanner

Wipe the tops of jars with a paper towel or cloth towel, then they are ready for lids
Wipe the tops of jars with a paper towel or cloth towel, then they are ready for lids
after lids and rings are placed on jars, they process for 10 minutes
after lids and rings are placed on jars, they process for 10 minutes
ready to be stored away for later consumption!
ready to be stored away for later consumption!

sberryjamjarssberryjam

Delicious!
Delicious!

 

I also made Blackberry jam sweetened with honey, that post will be coming soon! YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Food: Why my family is now eating organic!

I have struggled with my weight for many many years! I have written blogs about it, complained about it, and had finally given in and decided to accept it when something amazing happened to me.

Karol and I went to see Jillian Michaels.  Going was kind of a fluke.  We love Jillian Michaels, and to be honest I had no idea she was doing a speaking tour.  I happened to stumble upon the information on Facebook, and checked out the price of tickets.  I went to the web page, squinted my eyes, took a deep breath, and hit the button to see the prices.

I was quite surprised to see how affordable the tickets were.  So I texted Karol and asked her if she wanted to go see JM.  To say she was excited would be an understatement!! So tickets were purchased, and we waited with bated breath. The night came and we went to see the amazing Jillian Michaels.  The first hour she talked about food and the second hour she talked about living a full life without “shoulds” and guilt, etc.  I have spent years in therapy, that stuff I knew. But the food stuff that I should have known, had eluded me somehow.

I have written about my huge grocery bills. Switching to an organic diet was daunting to say the least.  I was worried about the cost, and how I was going to afford to feed my family of 5 and not break the bank.  But Karol and I were committed to eating better.  No more pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other nastiness in our food. However, the cost of switching really concerned me.

So we entered the Real Food genre slowly.  Just purchasing the food we were making for ourselves.  The interesting thing was the first week we purchased all organic for ourselves we reduced our grocery bill by almost $100.00!!!

Photo courtesy of Blue Planet Green living
Photo courtesy of Blue Planet Green Living

So we ventured out farther into the organic realm and purchased organic meats and dairy.  I have to say that the milk was the hardest for me.  Spending $6.00 a gallon almost gave me a heart attack, but I figured it was the right thing for my family, so I just took a deep breath and put it in the cart.  Two of them…..  The most interesting thing is, my boys like the organic foods.  They say they taste better!!!

We bought organic peanut butter, organic crackers, cereal, creamer, etc.  It has been an interesting transition.  Last week the grocery bill was a bit higher than the first week, but we had cat litter, cat food, and some cleaning supplies, so it was not all food.

I have even found “healthy” alternatives to candy and soda.  I no longer indulge in candy made by any of the huge chocolate companies that immediately come to mind.  Instead I have switched to Unreal Candy.    Their products have NO high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors.  No chemicals!!!!  Just wonderful natural ingredients!  Currently you can find these products at CVS and Target stores!  The price is the same as the other ones in the candy aisle, so why not spend the same and get a MUCH MUCH better product?  Seriously! CANDY!  lower in sugar and healthier?  This stuff is amazing, you have to try it!  (not paid by the company for my endorsement). I used to avoid candy like the plague, never thinking I could fit it into my daily calorie “budget”.  Now I can, and so can you.  Why feed you and your kids crap when you can feel them foods without chemicals?

Photo courtesy of getunreal.com
Photo courtesy of getunreal.com

I used to be a Diet Pepsi junkie.  As a matter of fact I drank 2-3 cans of caffeine free diet pepsi every day.  After seeing Jillian, we decided to no longer use artificial sweeteners.  Then one day while shopping we found Zevia.  Stevia sweetened soda.  They have a wonderful assortment of flavors.  Root Beer, Dr Zevia, Cream soda, orange, grape, cherry, cola, caffeine free cola, among others.  It was a bit more expensive than other sodas, but at only one can per day it was completely affordable. The next week my local Harris Teeter had it on sale buy one get one free, so mama stocked up!! You can buy this product at Jewel, Acme, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Safeway, Target, Walgreens and more.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Zevia.com
Photo courtesy of Zevia.com

So we are on a new trend. Eating REAL food, drinking naturally sweetened sodas, and guilt free candy!

It is working!!  Two and a half weeks in I am down 5 pounds, and have lost inches in my stomach, hips and thighs!!  Karol is taller and has a faster metabolism than me.  She is down 7 pounds!!

I am excited to keep going and see how healthy we can get!! No more chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics for my family!!