Joilene has been gardening and preserving food of all kinds for many years, and she thrives on the creativity involved in these processes.
A Basic Jam Recipe for Use With Any Berries
Making homemade mulberry jam is simple. The hardest part is waiting for the berries to cook! In fact, you can use these basic guidelines for any type of berries to make any kind of jam you want.
Use any quantity of berries, but a large batch (a gallon or more) will be more worth your time.
What You Will Need
- Mulberries, or other berries or fruits. Good candidates include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or combinations of fruits like strawberries and rhubarb. Use whatever appeals to you and your family.
- Sugar or another sweetener (not too much or you'll overwhelm the mulberries)
- Pectin, or small sour apples, oranges, or lemons (which all contain pectin)
- A spoon (I like a wooden one)
- A cooking pot suited to the amount of berries you have available
- Freezer containers, or canning jars and equipment, if canning
- Time (1 hour or more)
Step 1: Prepare the Mulberries for Cooking
When you harvest your berries, avoid crushing them by placing them in shallow containers. You will need to sort them if they have come directly off a tree. Wearing thin rubber gloves is a good idea, as mulberries stain easily! If you don't wear gloves, you will have purple hands for several days.
- Begin by taking out all sticks, leaves, and unripe pink berries, which are quite tart and can make you sick. A few unripe ones in the pot won't spoil the jam, but don't let too many slip by. This is the most labor-intensive part of the process.
- Wash your berries. You may float them in a clean sinkful of water and scoop them out into a colander to dry, or you may use a wire colander or sieve and run water over them. Wash them gently so as not to crush them and release the juices.
- When you have removed everything you don't want to eat, you are ready to start jamming.
Step 2: Cooking Down the Jam
- Cooking down the berries is hardly any work at all. Turn the heat on low, cover the pot, and go do something else, coming back occasionally to stir the jam and see whether you need to adjust the heat. As more juice is released, you should increase the heat a bit at a time and stir more frequently.
- You may add sugar at the beginning, if you like. I add a little, just to thicken the juice into a light syrup. A rule of thumb for jams is to measure your fruit and add half of whatever that quantity is in sugar, but ripe mulberries are quite sweet on their own, so this proportion of sugar will be overwhelming. Use discretion.
- You may add pectin if you desire a thicker jam. Pectin is sold as a powder or a liquid, or you may make your own from sour apples (I usually just chop a few small peeled and cored apples into the jam and allow them to cook down together. Tart applesauce should work as well).
- When the berries are a bit bubbly and have released their juices, they are just about done. You can allow them to cook and thicken a bit more (supposing you have added sugar and/or pectin), or you can take them as they are.
Can or Freeze?
I usually don't have berries in sufficient quantities to make it worth my while canning them, but you may use a waterbath canning or steam canning method if you like (see instructions below). I prefer to spoon my jam into small freezer cups or cartons, and thaw them as needed. Be sure to label carefully with complete product name and date.
Canning Mulberry Jam Using a Waterbath Method
While your berries are cooking down, prepare your jars and equipment:
- Wash your jars, self-sealing lids, and rings, set your lids in scalding water, and fill your waterbath canner with the appropriate amount of water, aiming to cover the jars by about 1 inch. (You may use any size or style of jars which appeals to you, provided they are true canning jars.) Begin heating the canner.
- After your berries have cooked down, ladle the jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of your jars with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel, then put on the lids, being careful to get the rings tight, but not overtight. Place carefully in your canner. Once the water boils, begin the processing time. Process pints 15 minutes.
- Remove jars to a clean, dry towel or board away from drafts, and leave to cool for 8–12 hours.
- Check seals. Wash the outsides of the jars and the rings, then store in a cool, dark place.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can seeds be removed from mulberry jam?
Answer: I've never done so, and think that would prove very tricky. I don't know why it would be necessary.
Question: Do you eat the stems of the mulberries?
Answer: If there aren't too many stems, I suppose that would be alright...but too many definitely would make your finished product unpleasant!
Question: How much sugar is in mulberry jam?
Answer: Use however much sugar you want. A classic jam recipe measures the fruit and uses at least half this total quantity in sugar. But this is not necessary, especially if you intend to freeze the jam rather than can it. So use whatever tastes good, as mulberries are usually sweet to start with. I used between 1/4 and 1/3 of the volume of berries.
Question: Can you freeze mulberry jam?
Answer: Yes, you can freeze most any jam, including mulberry. I recommend small plastic freezer cartons. Pack jam into containers with a little room for expansion, and have lids pre-labeled with product and date, so that moisture doesn't prevent ink or labels from sticking. If sealed well, the jam should last at least a year before risking much freezer-burn.
© 2009 Joilene Rasmussen