How to Make Homemade Mulberry Jam
What You'll Need...
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, and 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.
You will need:
- Mulberries, or other berries or fruits. Good candidates include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or even combinations of fruits like strawberries and rhubarb. Use whatever appeals to your and your family.
- Sugar or other 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
- Freezer containers or canning jars and equipment, if canning
- Time (an hour or more)
Step One: Preparing the Mulberries
When you harvest your berries, avoid crushing them by placing them in shallow containers. You will need to sort them if they have just 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.
My husband has fond memories from junior high school of showing one girl how much he liked her by rubbing handfuls of mulberries in her hair. That was before hair dyed all sorts of unnatural colors came into vogue. It is unclear to me whether she continued to like him back.
- 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 Two: Cooking the Berries Down
- Cooking the berries down is hardly any work at all. Just turn the heat on low at first, cover the pot, and go do something else, coming back occasionally to stir and see whether you need to adjust the heat. As more juice is released, you should increase the heat 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 powder or as 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 down and thicken a bit more (supposing you have added sugar and/or pectin), or you can take them as is.
- I usually don't have berries in sufficient quantities to make it worth my while canning them, but you may use a water bath canning method, if you like (see below). I prefer to spoon my jam into small freezer cups, such as recycled yogurt cartons, and have them ready to thaw as needed. Be sure to label carefully.
The Basics of 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 that appeals to you, provided they are true canning jars.) Begin heating the canner.
- After your berries have cooked down, ladle the jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of your jars with a clean, damp cloth, then put on the lids, being careful to get the rings tight, but not overtight, and place carefully in your canner. Once the water boils, begin processing time. Process pints 15 minutes.
- Remove jars to a clean, dry towel, set away from drafts, and leave to cool for 8-12 hours.
- Check seals, wash the outsides of the jars if necessary, and store in a cool, dark place.
Jars of jam make lovely gifts. Don't forget to make neat, professional-looking labels and tie them with ribbon or raffia.
Harvesting Mulberries - The Shake Method
Different Species of Mulberries, Presented by a Wildfoods Foodie
© 2009 ButterflyWings