Old-Fashioned Blackberry Preserves

While wild blackberry season might not last long, this easy blackberry preserve recipe will let you enjoy it year-round

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
prep time
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Summer in many parts of the country means three things: hot weather, bugs, and blackberries. Of the three, I enjoy the last one the most and endure the first two to get it. 

Spread the blackberry preserves over toast or warm biscuits.

While blackberry season doesn’t last long, this easy, old-fashioned blackberry preserve recipe allows you to enjoy the flavor of fresh blackberries year-round. While blackberries are naturally high in pectin, the extra added pectin in the ingredient list helps to make sure your preserves set up with a nice, thick consistency. I like to strain half of my berry pulp to remove some of the seeds. I’ve found the smoother texture of fewer seeds to be more pleasing on a breakfast biscuit or slice of toast. 

The high acidity of the jam means that it is safe to can with a water bath, making it shelf stable at room temperatures.

 

Tips:

Wash your berries. Unlike cultivated fruits, wild stock doesn’t get sprayed with insecticides. To remove unwanted critters, cover the fruit in cool water and add 1 cup of lemon juice. Swirl the fruit gently with your hand and let it soak for 15 minutes. Any critters in or on the berries should release and float to the surface. Drain the water and rinse the fruit a second time before spreading it in a single layer on a paper-towel-lined sheet pan and patting it dry. 

Clean the berries before making the preserves.

Prep your ingredients before starting. Measure out fruit mixture, sugar, and lemon juice in separate containers before starting to cook the preserves. Once the fruit and pectin start to boil, there isn’t a lot of downtime for measurements. 

Follow the fruit-to-sugar ratio listed. Not following the ratio can result in preserves that don’t set up. If you use another brand of pectin besides Sure Jell, follow the fruit-to-sugar ratio listed on the instructions. 

We use Sure Jell brand of pectin.

Always make sure to clean and sterilize your jars and lids before filling them, and always use new lids when canning. 

Work warm to warm on jars. Never put hot preserves in a cold jar, and don’t add cold jars to hot water. Doing so can cause thermal shock and break the glass. I like to sterilize jars by placing them in a pot of cool water. Then I gently heat to a boil. Fill the sterilized and dried jars with hot preserves while the jars are still warm to the touch from the sterilization process. Likewise, add the warm jars to warm water for the water bath sealing process and gently bring the water to a boil. 

Boil the jars to sterilize them.

Make sure the jar rims are clean and dry before adding the lids. Always wipe the jar rims after filling to make sure an errant drop of preserves doesn’t prevent the lid from making a good seal. 

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Ingredients

8 cups fresh blackberries

7 cups sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1.75 package of Sure Jell Original unflavored pectin

5 clean pint jars with new lids

Cooking Instructions

Start by placing the berries in a large bowl. Use a potato masher or biscuit cutter to smash the berries into a pulp. Working with a cup or two of berries at a time, use the back side of a large wooden spoon to push one half of the mashed berry pulp through a fine wire strainer to remove the seeds. Don’t worry if a few make it through. Pour the strained pulp back into the mashed berries. You should have about 5 cups of berry juice and pulp when you finish. 

Use the back of a wooden spoon to force 1/2 of the berry pulp through a mesh strainer to remove some of the seeds.

Add the pulp to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pectin. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and stir in the sugar. Return the mixture to a full boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat. 

Bring the fruit and pectin to a boil then stir in the sugar.

Using a ladle and a canning funnel, fill the jars just to the start of the jar threads, leaving ½ to ¾ of an inch of headspace. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe the jar rims clean. Any moisture or preserves stuck to the jar rim will prevent the lid from sealing. Place the sanitized jar lids on the jars. Screw the rings on finger tight. 

Use a canning funnel to fill the jars without making a mess.

To water batch can the preserves, add a wire rack or water batch canning rack to a large pot. Add 1 to 2 inches of water and set the heat level at medium-high. Carefully add the warm jars of preserves. Continue filling the pot with water until it covers the jars. Bring to a boil and cover the pot. Boil for 10 minutes. Using jar tongs, transfer the hot jars to a clean towel and allow them to set the lids. This process can can take up to several hours. You will hear an audible “ping” as each jar lid seals. Once sealed, the jars of preserves are shelf stable up to a year or more. You can if jars don't seal well by pressing the center of the lid. If the lid pushes down and springs back, the jar isn’t sealed. You should refrigerate these and use within 3-4 weeks time. 

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