We went down to Phillip’s Farm in Milford, New Jersey a few days ago and went picking. I hadn’t been to a pick-your-own farm since childhood, and experiencing one of these places with the eyes of an adult, I learned a few things about agriculture. I was picking blueberries in the sun for half an hour and practically got sunstroke. We sat in the car for ten minutes afterwards with the air conditioning blasting, drinking down a gallon of water. The actual migrant workers picking in the next field must have thought we were pretty silly for doing this work for free. So there went my agrarian fantasy.
It wasn’t all sweaty and disillusioning, fortunately. The best picking of all was blackberry picking. They’re exactly in season right now and hung heavily off the vines, eager to be picked. They were big, juicy and sour and we filled our buckets in no time, walking up and down between the big, shady bushes. I could have picked blackberries all day.
My boyfriend follows the paleo diet so the jam I made from our blackberries couldn’t have any sugar or store-bought pectin in it. I made skillet jam with honey and it took a long damn time but the end result is pretty damn perfect. It’s old school jam, perfect for biscuits or scones, and I imagine unearthly when combined with peanut butter and brown bread.
2.5 pounds blackberries
1 scant cup of water
1 3/4ths cup honey
Juice of four lemons
1.) Heat together berries, lemon, juice and water in a skillet until comes to a boil. Then mash berries with a fork.
2.) Add honey and boil hard for 15 minutes.
3.) Continue to cook at a brisk simmer until jam has thickened to desired level. This can take over an hour.
4.) While jam is cooking, put a plate in the freezer. When you think the jam is thickened, test it by dabbing a little on the plate and putting it in the freezer for a few minutes. If after a few minutes the jam doesn’t slide off the plate when you take it out and hold it vertically, it’s done. It should be at around 220 degrees Fahrenheit if you want to test it with a candy thermometer.
5.) Allow to cool completely then refrigerate. Refrigerated, it should keep for several months.
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