Here are the berries after their first cooking. I did that Monday, and then put them in the fridge for my day off. On the table behind the buckets of berries is a HUGE hand blender, about the size of a weed whacker! I use that to break down the berries to make it easier for the next step.
I put the berries through the food mill and get rid of the seeds. The seeds can't go in the compost because they're full of sugar.
Here is the jam in the kettle, seed free and beginning to boil. The kitchen is starting to fill with the smell of summery, sweet blackberries.
Resting on my huge steam kettle is my gigantic wooden paddle that I use to stir the jam. It looks like a canoe paddle, but it really is just for stirring jam! The steam kettle holds about 50 pounds of fruit, as well as 25 pounds of sugar. Any more than that, and it boils over. Not a pleasant site!
This is the gory aftermath, when I'm done putting the jam through the food mill to remove the seeds. It always looks this bad, no matter how careful I try to be. The garbage can fell over when I emptied it, and then turned out to be easier to clean that way.
I fill the jars with the hot molten jam, put the lids on as tightly as I can, using garden gloves to protect my hands from the heat, and give me extra grip, then flip the jars over. The jars' heat combined with the 220 degrees of heat from the jam melt the seal in the lid to close the jar tightly, as well as killing any bacteria.
Here is the jam, finished and cooling. This is actually the inspiration for today's blog. Yesterday, as I sat at the loom at the center, I thought about what I was going to write. I knew I had to make lots of blackberry jam today, and envisioned the lovely rows of finished jam, gleaming in their identical jars, silvery lids reflecting the light from outside. Tomorrow, I'll wash off each jar with hot, soapy water, date them and label them. I might think about jam once in a while when I'm weaving, but I also like to think about weaving while I'm making jam. I listen to WeaveCast, imagine new projects and think about what's waiting on the loom at home.