The debate as to whether title this post Blackberry-Strawberry Balsamic Jam or Christmas in July raged on in my mind for hours I assure you. "I've been having a year", or polite speak for I'm completely over "everything" and can we please move on already. I'm hoping it's a case of riding out the bad in order to truly appreciate the good. The weather here goes from tolerable to "welcome to the eternal inferno" in a matter of seconds it seems and I've been struggling to find my get up and go (because it got up and went ages ago). The fruit orchards that surround the area I live have little tolerance for my journey to "find" myself. Don't worry though, that fruit got a heated surprise: a bubbling cauldron of sugar and aged balsamic vinegar, bwuahaha. (Wow, I really need to get a life or a therapist, not sure which?)
Probably the therapist, since I picked a 106-degree day to spend perched in front of the stove stirring pots of jam. I always start out thinking, oh a couple jars should do me and before I know it I have three cases of jam staring at me and a few days missing. I added some jars of Peach, Nectarine, Satsuma Plum, Blackberry-White Pepper, and Strawberry to the line-up for good measure. Then I got to thinking about it, I made way more than I need for the year so I guess it's time to pawn some of this bounty off on kindly folks. Then I got to thinking well the weather did drop down to a pleasant 102; might as well fire up the oven and bake cookies to send to the kindly jam recipients. Poof, I think we now have Christmas in July. (Poof, internal memo to sign up for that brain transplant when they become available straight away because mine is on the fritz these days!)
Strawberry-Blackberry Balsamic Jam
1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 pound blackberries
16 ounces sugar
3 ounces balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sugar powdered pectin (optional)
Add the strawberries, blackberries, sugar, and vinegar to a 4-quart saucepan; bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Add the pectin at this point if using. Turn the heat down a little if it is boiling over or scorching. Boil and stir the jam for 15 minutes if using pectin, for 20-25 if not using pectin. I usually prefer a looser setting jam so I forgo it, but it's up to you. Skim the top of the jam for any "jam scum" as I like to affectionately call it (whitish foam also works) before placing in jars if you want a cleaner finished product.
Sterilize (3) 8-ounce glass jars and bands. Also have on hand (3) jar lid seals. Place the hot jam into the clean jars; wipe rims with a clean towel, place lids and bands on and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. The unopened jars will last for up to one year if stored in a cool dark place. For more detailed processing instructions you may find this post helpful Apricot and Garam Masala Jam. It you plan on eating all the jam within a few weeks, you can skip hot water processing and store it in the fridge.
There is something quite therapeutic about rolling out cookie dough, I find it hard to even explain. Recipe for the chocolate crinkles if you so desire, these never fail to bring smiles.
There is something even more therapeutic about scarfing down a Peanut Butter and Blackberry-Strawberry Balsamic Jam, Oatmeal Shortbread Sandwich that is even harder to explain. Actually I don't think I can ever eat a PB&J on bread again and ever look at it the same way again. Funny how life changes us, for the better I hope.