The other day I spend hours with SweetPea on my back in the Ergo Carrier picking blackberries in the afternoon shade; I must have picked at least 30cups. When I got home I had all these wonderful dreams of cute little jars full of homemade blackberry jam being handed out at Christmas, and everyone fawning over how incredible crafty and thoughtful I was while I modestly played down how much work went into it all.
This is not what was going to happen…
It all started off so well. I measured out 9 cups of crushed berries and added 3 cups of raw sugar, I was really excited about the raw sugar because I think it just tastes better than white sugar plus it’s so much better for you(as far as sugar being good for you goes). All of that was put on the stove to simmer while I brought a giant pot of water to boil and stirred the sweet mixture diligently. At this point SweetPea is strapped on my back and playing with the collar of my shirt patiently, happy to indulge her Mammas desire to create and can new things.
The sugar begins to melt down and the berries relinquish their juices as everything comes to a slow boil. I grab my candy thermometer and stick it in… 50° Fahrenheit… now that just can’t be right, it has to reach 220° before it can be canned as jam. I grab the instant read meat thermometer and give it a stab… 150° that seems a bit more like it. After disposing of the first thermometer I dig up another more reliable candy thermometer and stick it in, it’s reading about 10° less than the instant read thermometer, but I figure it just had to do with placement in the mutant hot blackberry lava.
I continue to stir every few moments and try to sooth my fussy little SweetPea; who after an hour or so has decided that Mom making blackberry Jam is not any fun and she would much rather be somewhere else. This process is a lot more difficult than it seems because I have to keep picking her up and putting her down so I don’t burn her with bits of hot berry sauce.
Over what seems like the next few hours the temperature slowly creeps up to 180° and I impatiently spoon a little bit of jam onto a plate and stick it in the freezer to see if it’s solidifies enough for me to call it jelly and throw it into some jars and start canning. A few minutes later I pull it out and it has in fact become jam a rather loose jam but jam none the less. Then I taste it, and it’s so good. It tastes like sweet sunshine on a warm summer day how incredible lovely it is…
But wait… what is that taste… that taste in the background that is slowly sneaking into my mouth full of sunshine……….. Noooooooooooooooooooooooo… but it’s to late, the unmistakable taste of burnt sugar has entered my sweet summer medley and it’s ruined, there is no coming back from this, no saving it, the hours I spent picking berries and the hours I spend mixing jam have been wasted and I will have nothing to show for them besides and incredible dirty kitchen. I momentarily think about canning it anyways and giving burnt jam away as Christmas presents to the members of my family I’m not particularly fond of, but I’m to proud of my housewife skills to let even them know I totally messed this up.
I sit down on the floor and pout for a moment because it’s hot and I’m tired and completely worn out. After turning off the burned and making sure nothing is going to make a bigger mess than it already has I pick up SweetPea and mope about outside for a little while, at least she’s happy (she loves being outside). After an hour outside I am suddenly overcome with the need to successfully accomplish something today, so I head back to the kitchen.
There are still several cups of fresh blackberries in the refrigerator so I decide to make a blackberry cobbler, but no… I can’t stop there… I also have to make homemade vanilla ice cream because somehow in my mind cobbler and ice cream is equal to homemade blackberry jam in the success department, and making cobbler alone would not be enough personal gratification, so I find an ice cream recipe and I totally screw it up…
My tired brain misreads at least two measurements and adds the wrong ingredients at the wrong time making a general show of how completely fried I am from my jam project gone wrong, but I somehow manage to pull it together and the ice cream mix tastes amazing so I throw it in the ice cream maker and enlist my hubby to crank it until it’s done.
Meanwhile I put the blackberry cobbler together and throw it in the oven relatively unscathed and with little to no problems. I walk over to the table to check on the ice cream and it has reached the consistency of a melty milkshake, he keeps stirring.
15 minutes late it’s still a melty milkshake… Ahhhhh what happened? I contemplate blaming my husband for this failure since he’s the one mixing it and would be an easy scapegoat, but I know it’s not his fault; once again my now completely exhausted brain misread and muddled directions. I guess you’re only supposed to stir the ice cream 2 times every 2-3 minutes instead of constantly for 20 minutes…. Ooops
The timer dings for the cobbler and I pull it out of the oven. The top is crispy golden brown and the berries are bubbling up around the sides. It smells just wonderful but it’s way to hot to eat so I set it aside to cool. A little while later I serve myself up a bowl, slowly cutting into the sweet biscuity crust and scooping juicy purple berries from the bottom. I grab a fork and sit down just taking in how beautiful it looks in the bowl before me. I am afraid it will be awful, that somehow I will have messed this up too, but after a few moments the glorious smell of fresh hot blackberries and sugar gets to me and my mouth is watering so I muster the courage to take a bite. I stab into the crispy golden crust and coax some berries onto my fork, holding my breath I slowly raise the fork to my mouth and…
it tastes just wonderful, like sweet sunshine on a warm summer day.