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Blackberry Preservation Ideas

 
gardener
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Does anyone have some clever ways of preserving blackberries (particularly with canning) that turn out well? I found this thread (link below) but I’m interested in other ideas as well. This year I’m going to try making and canning hotsauce. I think I’m going to freeze the berries as the season takes off, so I have time to figure out what to do.

There’s even blackberry chutney and ketchup!

https://permies.com/t/16708/kitchen/Blackberries

Here's a video of using blueberries for hot sauce, which I might try as well (preferably with jalapenos instead of the ones he's using):
 
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Have you considered making blackberry brandy?
 
James Landreth
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Nope, not yet! Is it difficult, do you know? I know of blackberry mead and blackberry wine. I bet blackberry vinegar could be good!
 
gardener
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My wild blackberries are intensely flavorful but tend to be small and seedy and not awesome from a texture standpoint.  So I make what I call blackberry liqueur from them.  It could not be easier; I half-fill a container with them and put a little sugar -- as little as half a cup, but usually about a cup in a quart container -- on the berries to help draw out the juice.  I mash them lightly -- just a few pokes with any sturdy implement to get them a little broken -- and fill the container comfortably full with 100 proof vodka.  I think the flavor is also improved by about a quarter teaspoon of salt, but this is optional.  Then I let them sit in my fridge for a minimum of two months.  (Honestly I don't believe refrigeration is needed, but that's how I do it.)  Then I drain the liqueur out using a colander (you could use a finer mesh or cloth if you wanted perfect clarity, I don't mind a few solids) and reserve the liquor-soaked berries for spooning onto ice cream or just eating as a boozy snack.  (They aren't all that awesome due to having most of their flavor leached out, but I can't stand waste and they are boozy and somewhat tasty.)  The liqueur itself may want adjusting for strength and sweetness; I usually put it in a glass one-liter booze bottle and make up the empty space in the bottle with more sugar or more water or more vodka in various combinations depending on my mood.  (If I was working on presentation quality I would use simple syrup instead of crystal white sugar at this stage.)  If you plan to drink it "straight" probably water is your best additive at this bottling stage, but since I use it mostly as a mixer and cocktail ingredient, I tend to bottle it sweet and strong as hell!  

This same procedure works for every flavorful fruit you may have in surplus, especially the stuff that's a bit distressed or past its prime that you otherwise might not expect to get around to eating.  In the wintertime, this is what I do when my local supermarket puts a ton of old fruit on its discounted salvage produce rack for sufficiently cheap prices.  Enjoy!
 
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Blackberries here are just coming into season. I've made both jam and wine in the past, but the idea of blackberry ketchup intrigues me, so we'll see if we can give a recipe a go!
 
Mike Barkley
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I don't know how to make brandy. Many years years ago a friend made it from blackerries & also from peaches. They were both very good even though I rarely drink. We used some of it to cook a wild boar. It helped remove the strong gamey taste.
 
Jay Angler
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OK, that word "ketchup" jumped out at me from the first post. Disclaimer - I couldn't follow a recipe if my life depended on it. I'm just toooo... into doing my own thing with what I have on hand!

Blackberries -- Blackberry Ketchup
By Cece Sullivan
Recipes on this page were developed or tested by Cece Sullivan of the Times food staff and were evaluated by staff members.
The following recipe is from "Shoalwater's Finest Dinners" by Ann and Tony Kischner with Cheri Walker.
BLACKBERRY KETCHUP 4 cups; approximate preparation time 15 minutes
8 cups blackberries  (a bit over 3x 650ml picking containers)
2 shallots, peeled and minced (included in walking onion total)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped  (walking onion bases – 79 grams)
2 teaspoons dried tarragon, crushed (didn't have any)
2 teaspoons dried marjoram, crushed (fresh 2.8 grams)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (fresh 3.8 grams - maybe too much)
Juice and peel of 1 lemon (2 Tbsp lime – no peel - it's what I had on hand)
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground, so not exactly measured)
1. Combine the blackberries, shallots, onion, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, lemon juice and peel, the vinegar and sugar in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes. (I cooked the blackberries first and put through my squishing sieve AKA as a vegetable ricer)
2. Cool slightly, then puree the ketchup in a blender or food processor and strain through a medium sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing it to retrieve as much puree as possible. Add the salt and pepper; taste for sweetness, adding a little more sugar if necessary. Cook down over low heat until reduced to 4 cups.
3. Store the ketchup in the refrigerator.
Note: Use this ketchup as you would tomato ketchup.
http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19920729&slug=1504688

The family I taste-tested this on weren't impressed. The more cultured farm folk I got to test it, thought it was awesome on goat cheese. If I do this again, I'd substitute ~1/2 the balsamic vinegar for plain as to me it overwhelmed things a little and made it a bit sweeter than it needed to be. It's got enough sugar and vinegar in it that I'd be comfortable boiling water canning it, but for the moment it's in the fridge.


 
James Landreth
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Jay Angler wrote:OK, that word "ketchup" jumped out at me from the first post. Disclaimer - I couldn't follow a recipe if my life depended on it. I'm just toooo... into doing my own thing with what I have on hand!

Blackberries -- Blackberry Ketchup
By Cece Sullivan
Recipes on this page were developed or tested by Cece Sullivan of the Times food staff and were evaluated by staff members.
The following recipe is from "Shoalwater's Finest Dinners" by Ann and Tony Kischner with Cheri Walker.
BLACKBERRY KETCHUP 4 cups; approximate preparation time 15 minutes
8 cups blackberries  (a bit over 3x 650ml picking containers)
2 shallots, peeled and minced (included in walking onion total)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped  (walking onion bases – 79 grams)
2 teaspoons dried tarragon, crushed (didn't have any)
2 teaspoons dried marjoram, crushed (fresh 2.8 grams)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (fresh 3.8 grams - maybe too much)
Juice and peel of 1 lemon (2 Tbsp lime – no peel - it's what I had on hand)
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground, so not exactly measured)
1. Combine the blackberries, shallots, onion, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, lemon juice and peel, the vinegar and sugar in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes. (I cooked the blackberries first and put through my squishing sieve AKA as a vegetable ricer)
2. Cool slightly, then puree the ketchup in a blender or food processor and strain through a medium sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing it to retrieve as much puree as possible. Add the salt and pepper; taste for sweetness, adding a little more sugar if necessary. Cook down over low heat until reduced to 4 cups.
3. Store the ketchup in the refrigerator.
Note: Use this ketchup as you would tomato ketchup.
http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19920729&slug=1504688

The family I taste-tested this on weren't impressed. The more cultured farm folk I got to test it, thought it was awesome on goat cheese. If I do this again, I'd substitute ~1/2 the balsamic vinegar for plain as to me it overwhelmed things a little and made it a bit sweeter than it needed to be. It's got enough sugar and vinegar in it that I'd be comfortable boiling water canning it, but for the moment it's in the fridge.




I definitely want to can up a bunch of various ketchups, chutneys, and hot sauces this year! Thanks for sharing your results.
 
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Some good thoughts here.  I like the condiments recipes especially.

I have several acres of wild blackberries and not a real kitchen for processing them yet.  So I do what Dan does.  My season just ended and I put up 32 quarts this year of what I call 'cordial.'

There is no need for refrigeration.  And I wait a bit longer, till just before the holidays to decant mine.  But I do squish the berries and add that juice as well - gonna get all the flavor I can out of them.  My friends and acquaintances know they can expect their own small bottle at Christmas.  

I might have to hold back some of the berries this year for dessert toppings.  That's a great idea!

I haven't tried the salt trick, but did experiment with spearmint in a couple of bottles, but it tasted like medicine to me.  My cousin liked it though.

We drink it straight in fancy little cordial glasses, or mix it with seltzer or orange juice.

BTW, I've experimented with various brands and prices of vodka, and could tell no difference at all, so I buy the cheap stuff.  Also switched to raw cane sugar this year, as the white refined stuff now gives me a bad aftertaste.  Tried to cut back the amount of sugar one year and determined to stay with the almost one cup per quart recipe since.
 
gardener
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Method to make brandy out of wine:

Make wine and freeze it. Strain the liquid out of the ice/slush.

Its a simple way to distill the alcohol out of the wine.  I have never done it so i cannot confirm success.
 
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I like blackberry cobble the best.

When we lived in East Texas we had 100's of wild bushes.  My supply from the freezer ran out so we planted a bush here.  The first year I got about a dozen berries.  Every year since then the birds have gotten them or the berries dried on the bush before I could get to them.

My original dozen has been soaking in vodka waiting for additions that don't happen.
 
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While it's less preservation and probably falls closer to a blackberry mead, we regularly ferment berries and garlic in raw honey. The result is usually a slightly less sweet and a little more tangy preserve. The honey itself is not very sticky after and more like a fruit juice type viscosity. With more savoury add ins, like garlics or herbs, you can get something more like a teriyaki sauce that is gluten free, important for us since my wife has celiac.

We do not water bath or pressure can these like all our ferments and they never last longer than 2 or 3 months before being eaten. I'm not sure how well they would age past that without traditional canning but we re-use the honey to get a jump on subsequent batches with no issues so far and there is no noticeable change after the initial fermentation phase until we finish it off.
 
Jay Angler
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David Pritchett wrote:

we regularly ferment berries and garlic in raw honey.

Would you be willing to give some specific examples with quantities/ratios? I've done a little fermenting such as saurkraut, but I'm a total amateur in that area, so feel better with a little guidance!
 
David Pritchett
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Jay Angler wrote:Would you be willing to give some specific examples with quantities/ratios?



This one is super straightforward.  Literally take a quart mason jar and fill it with berries and/or garlic fill it with honey until whatever you put in is completely cover and slap a lid on it. We put it on the counter where we do food prep and simply loosen the lid to off gas it. If you have a Mason jar fermentation lid use that but it's not necesarry.
From personal experience when you are still learning or forget for a day or two open it over the sink, it won't shoot and fizz like soda it'll more ooze over the top if too much pressure has built up. Personally we buy raw honey from Sam's club, local is better for you but financial constraints prevent us from doing that.
https://m.samsclub.com/p/nature-nate-s-honey-44-oz/prod21265136

For anything else fermented veg just follow the general guidelines of
1.  1 to 3 tbsp of salt to one quart of water, we usually shoot for 1.5 for taste reasons and mix it in a separate mason jar and pour over  as opposed to guessing after filling the fermentation vessel.
2. Use an air lock and something to maintain headspace, airlock compatible mason jar lids are VERY easy to put together with plastic mason jar lid, silicone gasket and airlock all cheaply acquired from amazon. Our favorite for headspace is an empty glass baby food jar placed in the mason jar so the airlock opening goes into the baby food jar opening.
3. If using fine spices add those first so they stay at the bottom
4. bay leaves or grape skins add tannins and help bring a drying flavor like dry red wine and keep soft things like summer squash and cucumbers crunchy, tea leaves also work but I dont like their flavor.
5. Optional add a starter to get it going faster or if you are doing a large batch and you dont qant to risk loss, this has happened in less than 10% of our stuff over 3 years and always when we didnt add starter. Unflavored kombucha is our absolute favorite because it has the aforementioned tannins and an active probiotic culture dont be surprised if a small scoby forms on top of your ferment. After that brine or liquid from a previous similar ferment, be warned flavors can carry over from this. Finally filtered whey from homemade yogurt or kefir.

For bulk consider the brew bucket setup of typical homebrewers and use cabbage leaves peeled off the head and spread over the ferment and a kitchen glass to create head space.

That may be more than you were looking for but fermentation is one of the only homesteading things we can do in our suburban hoa enforced subdivision along with our garden. Plus I think people get super intimidated by fermentation. Also remember not all fuzzy things are bad just do a google image search and color check if your worried and every time these have gone wrong for us they have miserably failed the sniff test.

 
David Pritchett
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Also forgot to mention with vegetable ferments we sometimes intentionally dont use an airlock because the vegetables will become carbonated and will fizz in you mouth kind of like soda will. The degree this happens depends on the vegetable. Hard things like carrots or broccoli won't so it but cucumber, okra squash and tomatoes will fizz quite a bit.
 
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Check out Jan White's post 'A recipe for making elderberry ketchup'. I would have thought blackberries with good flavour would work here.
 
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I have a Finnish steam juicer. You can toss berries, or fruit such as grapes into it whole, stems and all, and it'll spit out pasteurized concentrated juice out of the spigot hose straight into sterilized bottles for long term storage. You don't even need to further process them after bottling, if everything touching the fresh juice has been squeaky clean and sanitized properly. No sugar needed, but I usually sweeten mine a bit, because I have kids and an American husband whose sweet tooth rivals that of most toddlers. I just need to pick enough blackberries in a day or two to justify firing up a giant stock pot like contraption. The dry pulp that is the seeds and skins and other solids can go in the chicken run, or compost pile.

My most popular blackberry preserves from last year was blackberry vanilla jam. You can use extract, you can use vanilla pods, you can use vanilla paste, just put it in last minute before putting the stuff in cans so the aromatics don't evaporate. The year before, I used homegrown apples and blackberries because I was drowning in apples. All depends on what is or isn't available. The berries I picked yesterday and survived dinner and breakfast are on the back burner of my stove, simmering into a simple quick jam with some key lime juice from limes I found at the supermarket for $1 for 2 pounds (ugly produce shelves are great), so that's what's gone in the pot. I don't think it'll even make it into canning jars before someone asks for scones, but otherwise, can with a generous 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace and process for about 10 minutes for most "jam" sized jars. :)

You can also blend the berries, sweeten lightly with honey, and make fruit leather. My kids don't really like the seeds, so I have to strain it, at which point you need to top the trays off with more of the fruit puree a few times to make it thick enough to be worthwile, or the fruit leather will be too thin to handle without breaking. Lots of work for a nice treat, so I try to plan ahead.
 
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