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Homemade Mixed Berry Jam

Mariel here. As my mother elucidated in her post earlier this week, we’ll be hosting one of my best friend’s bridal showers this coming Saturday. Since my mom is a specialist in afternoon teas, we decided to stay the course and drum up an array of dainty, midday nibbles. While mommy dearest is far more skilled than I when it comes to such occasions and is therefore bearing the brunt of the workload, I decided to find my own way to contribute: primarily via the guest favors.

At my own bridal shower – another teatime affair – my bridesmaids opted for little tins of tea inscribed with my wedding date. It was such a cute idea and so spot-on that it left me wondering how I’d follow it up. Obviously I couldn’t just rehash the same idea and risk outing myself as uncreative.

In a flash of inspiration, I decided to gift our guests with homemade shortbread and made-from-scratch jam. Genius! Only I’ve never made either…

So over the past few weeks I’ve been testing and re-testing in my tiny NYC kitchen so as not to embarrass myself on the big day. All that trial and error has led me to two “tried and true” recipes that I’ll be sharing today and next week. I’ll also include final shots of the bridal party packaging along with links to where I bought everything, just in case you feel like getting down and dirty with the DIY. Oh, and FYI: 4-oz jam jars are pretty much the puppies of the canning world. They’re so adorable you just wanna feed one a bottle and snuggle it by the fire.

Whether or not the attendees flip for the favors is almost beside the point – they were made with a ton of love…and some sweat…and a few crocodile tears.

Homemade Mixed Berry Jam
Makes eight 8-oz jars or 16 4-oz jars

Note: While I kept the recipe very basic, since I was serving a large group with varying tastes, you can add aromatics and herbs like fresh lemon or orange zest, basil or even bay leaves to the mix to deepen the flavor profile. I plan to do just that when I’m jam-making for my fam.

Ingredients:
8 cups fresh or frozen berries (if using frozen, defrost in the microwave slowly and gently): $9.87
1.75-oz package of reduced-sugar pectin powder (I used Sure-Jell, the pink box) – $1.78
4 cups of granulated sugar, divided – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $11.65
Cost per 8-oz jar: $1.45

Directions:
1. Sterilize your glass jam jars by running them through the dishwasher (do not include the lids). Heat a small sauce pan of water so it’s simmering (not boiling) and place your lids inside to help soften the gummy rim.

2. Crush the berries using a potato masher and dump into a large stockpot

3. Measure out 3¾ cups of granulated sugar into a bowl

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the pectin powder and remaining ¼-cup of sugar. This prevents the pectin from clumping.

5. Place the stockpot of berries on the stove over high heat and slowly add the pectin mixture, stirring frequently to prevent the fruit from burning. Bring to a full boil (meaning you can’t stir away the boil). Once boiling, add the remaining 3¾ cups sugar and combine well.

6. Bring the mixture back to a full boil, stirring frequently. Once boiling, continue cooking (and stirring) for one minute.

7. Remove the berries from heat and ladle the jam into clean jars leaving ¼-inch of space at the top (that’s important for a proper seal).

8. Thoroughly wipe the rim of the jar with a wet cloth and put the canning lids on, then screw on the rings until tight.

9. Boil a large pot of water (enough water to cover the jars by an inch) and process your sealed jam jars for 8-10 minutes in this boiling waterbath. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pot.

10. Remove the jars from the hot water (use tongs) and set them upright on a towel for 12 hours (away from windows and drafts, and don’t bump or mess with it, especially the lid). The “pop-tops” on the lids will suck in and this tells you that your jam has been sealed properly. Store in your pantry until ready to enjoy. Refrigerate after opening.