Weeks ago I spent many an hour cruising the net trying to figure out what tool would be the best choice for working with blackberries. I have frozen my entire harvest the past two years, but this year I really wanted to make some Jams and Syrups. I made my first batch of Blackberry Jam over a month ago, and while it all got devoured in the first two weeks, the seed content was undesirable. Honestly, it was just plain annoying. The seeds made the jam very chewy and got stuck in your gums all the time!
Unfortunately, I waited too long in the season to make the decision to buy the Victorio, and I only had one bucket of blackberries left. I took my bucket of blackberries, washed them a bit, then dumped them in a large stock pot with about half a cup of water. I boiled them for a few minutes, till the point where they started to soften, then poured them into the strainer's hopper. It took only a few minutes to process the seeds from juice and pulp! (I tried to reprocess the seeds/skins but would not recommend this for blackberries. There was not enough fruit left to separate and I ended up jamming the tool with solid seeds.) I then poured the juice and fruit pulp back into the stock pot to boil with some sugar and some lemon zest till it started to thicken and then poured it into small jars. Thankfully we had a little too much for 8 jars, and I had to use some up, right away. This syrup is amazing on ice-cream and looks beautiful to boot! I can't wait to try it on waffles! I am sad I don't have any more blackberries to work with as I'd love to make a batch of syrup with a bit of Almond flavoring added... Just the thought makes my mouth water.
Along with the syrup, I was able to can a few apple sauce variations. I cut apples in half and roasted multiple huge pans in the oven, then used the Victorio to mash all of the ingredients together. While this took a very long time to make so much applesauce, it was really light work. Both Khali and Porter loved to crank the handle and smoosh the fruit down the hopper. I was able to reprocess the discarded skins and seeds a second time on the apples to reclaim more sauce. I was amazed how dry the seeds and skins where when we were done. I felt there was very little fruit wasted.
- I combined some with Pears and a little bit of vanilla and nutmeg for an Apple-Pear sauce.
- I mixed some with Poached Peaches and Ginger for Apple-Peach sauce.
- I also left a few jars straight Roasted Apple sauce, which is delicious on its own.
At this point, I ran out of large quart bottles, and only had pint, and jelly jars left on hand. With no desire to run to the store to pick up another case, I was inspired to cook down the rest of the apples further to make a delicious Apple Butter. I followed the recipe found here http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/apple_butter/. I snuck a bit before canning it and think its a definite keeper.
Amazingly, after canning for four days straight, the only wound I received was a burn from that darn apple butter. Watch out when you're cooking it down, you're working with such a thick sauce the air bubbles pop pretty high!
There is a beauty involved with canning. I am enjoying looking at all of the bottles filled with beautiful food. Part of me just wants to keep canning and putting food away. It is the same part of me that sheds a tear whenever I drive past a blackberry bush that is now succumbing to fall. But at the same time, I am very excited to be putting away the canning supplies tomorrow and reclaiming the kitchen and dining rooms. Now if only I could figure out where to put all this food!