... in the middle of March. We took to the Shenandoah valley just as the east coast was experiencing it's winter thaw, or the southern east coast at least. We were fortunate enough to arrive right during the first warm days of the year. We made our way over from the cabin to the forest, wondering what we could possibly forage so early in the season, then surprised and excited to find ramps right at the beginning of the tree line.
It's funny, the nature of editorial work means that each piece is written or photographed in the season prior to publishing, so we did our best amidst the wet Virginia leaves and the still bare trees.
Wild Blackberry Jam
8 cups blackberries
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 packet liquid pectin
- Prepare your jars, start your lids to simmering and bring your canning pot to a boil.
- In a large, non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enameled cast iron), combine the sugar and fruit pulp and bring to a simmer. Add cardamom and lemon zest/juice and stir to combine.
- Let the mixture reach a boil, stirring frequently to prevent it from boiling over. When the mixture appears to be thickening a bit, add the pectin and bring it back to a roiling boil.
- Let it boil vigorously for at least five minutes to activate the pectin. Before removing from the heat, check the set using the plate or spoon test to ensure that the jam will firm up when cool.
- Fill your jars with the hot jam, wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for ten minutes.
- Remove from canner and allow the jars to completely cool on a dishtowel-lined counter top.
- Once the jars are cool, check the seals, label them and eat jam on toast in January.
I found a little cabin for us to stay in, right by the river's edge. We were without phone service or internet, forcing us together by the living room fire, without any distractions. I was surprised how much the lack of digital connection quieted my mind, without the option there, our conversation dug deeper, discussing our future prospects and current confusions. We all nestled upstairs, the warmth of the fire creeping in through the floor boards.
And go find a copy of Taproot Magazine's latest issue WILD to see more!