Old Fashioned Blackberry Jam w/ Orange Zest

Audley’s precious grandmother passed away over the weekend, leaving a legacy of a life well lived.

Audley was blessed to speak at her memorial service on Tuesday and quoted scripture from Hebrews 13:2 during his beautiful tribute.


That was Granny Odessa;  a woman who served others.  In fact she was such a servant that one time she made a dozen or so sandwiches and a cooler of tea and carried it out to the convicts on a pick-up crew working the road in front of her house!  She even went so far as to tell them that “if that wasn’t enough just come on up to house and I’ll fix more!”
Oh, how she loved to do for others, never once thinking of herself!

Some of my favorite memories of Granny Odessa include picking blackberries and muscadines with her each summer, then making jam (we did this until last summer).  Not only did we make regular jam, but we would also make diabetic jam, fruit spread, bread to accompany jam, or just separate berries and muscadines for those who wanted to eat only fruit and then we would deliver to people she knew throughout our little community.

Actually delivery went a little more like this: “George (Audley’s late grandfather) run this to Snook’s house, and on your way home pick up some chicken at Save-A-Lot.”

So today, I just had to share my blackberry jam recipe.  We didn’t get to pick together this summer, but I was able to share with her what I made several weeks back before she she made the sharp turn downhill.

5 cups crushed blackberries
1 package powdered (1.75 oz.) fruit pectin (I used Mrs. Wages)
2 Tablespoons Orange zest
Juice from 1/2 orange
7 cups sugar

**Prepare the canner, jars and lids.  If you need tips to help with this you can click here.


**In a large saucepan, add your berries and smash with a potato masher to release all of their juices.  Add the orange zest and juice, then whisk in the pectin until it is dissolved.

**Bring the mixture to a roaring boil, stirring to keep from sticking.  Add all of the sugar at once, stir,  and return to a boil.  Stirring continuously, boil for about a minute.  Move from the hot stove and skim the foam from the top.

**Ladle the jam into the prepared jars, leaving about a 1/4-inch space front he top.  Wipe down the jars with a dampened cloth before screwing on the lids.

**Process in a canner about 10 minutes.  Remove from water and allow jars to cool and seal before storing.

Homemade jam has been quite a hit in our home this summer.  From bread and jam for breakfast to Peanut Butter & Jam for a snack, the whole family has its favorite flavor to satisfy any craving.

I love to make a little extra jam to share as gifts.  Jam makes a great hostess gift when my children are spending the night away from home.  

I’m linking up with Foodie Friday this week. Drop in at Designs By Gollum for more delicious dishes.

Vidalia Onion Jam

After a most adventurous week, I am finally finding a few minutes to sit and write.  It has been a seriously crazy and emotional week that kicked off with the girls and I suffering from what we were pretty sure was food poisoning.  My in-laws arrived late Monday night, and Tuesday Audley had his heart cath.  All of our prayers were answered and any issues he has been having with his heart hopefully will be corrected with cardiac therapy.  No blockages or issues with the muscles.  God has definitely blessed us and I am glad this nightmare is over!
Last week while making strawberry jam, I also took the time out to make a little Vidalia onion jam since Vidalias have arrive from Georgia at last!  This a a true southern treat that everyone needs to try at least once!
  When I mentioned the jam, I got several questions regarding this scrumptious treat; the most common being “what do you serve it with?”
Oh!  Let me suggest a few ways!
*as a Hamburger topping
*a little on a grilled brie cheese sandwich
*on a New York Strip with a bite of blue cheese
*on top of a baked potato or stirred into mashed potatoes
*in an omelet
*to top a smoked bratwurst
*as an accompaniment to brie en croute
*enjoy with a little spinach quiche
*spread a little on a warm croissant
*or stand at the counter and eat it from the jar. 
{You can guess my favorite!}
I don’t really know how to describe this jam; it’s sweet and so savory, it’s a little tangy, and definitely the most unique condiment you could have in your refrigerator.
Here is all you need to make your own Vidalia Onion Jam:
8 cups thinly sliced Vidalia (or any sweet) onion
4 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 box (1.75 oz package) powdered pectin
1-2 Tablespoons fresh ground black pepper


Saute’ slice onion in the butter on medium-high heat until onions are wilted and transparent.  Add the Balsamic vinegar and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer about 35-45 minutes until balsamic reduces and onions are caramelized.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
After onions are caramelized, add both the brown & white sugar, stirring quickly, so that they begin to dissolve.  Also, add your red wine vinegar at this point.  Once sugar has dissolved, add your black pepper.  I like to really taste the pepper so I add a full 2 Tablespoons!
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring to keep it from burning.  Add 1/2 of a package of powdered pectin, mixing in well.  Allow to boil about one minute and remove from heat.
Ladle into prepared jars.  At this point you can process the jam to seal the jars or just put them in the refrigerator.  I did both just so I could keep mine longer.
Because I used butter to help caramelize the onions, as the jam cool the butter rises to the top of the mixture.  It’s fine as long as you are keeping it refrigerated.  This will keep about eight weeks.
To serve, I bring the jam to room temp, stir it, and then use it in any number of ways.
 Personally all of my family has fallen in love with the jam on top of a grilled pork tenderloin.
I just love the way it melts over the hot tenderloin and flavors it “oh!”, so richly!
Stored in a pretty jar this would also make a lovely hostess gift to any cook-out you are invited too this summer! 
 I am linking up with Foodie Friday today.  Skip on over and check out all the other luscious dishes featured this week!

Just {Jammin’}

I love to listen to music when I am in the kitchen.  I tease the kids and tell them I am jammin’ out, which makes them laugh hysterically and they remind me that 80% of the music I listen to is not jammin’ material!
{OK, then!}
Have you heard of Jackie Evancho?
She’s a 12 year old classical music artist who I think has become my favorite companion in the kitchen this last week.  Her beautiful voice has made actual “jamming'” in the kitchen this week so relaxing and enjoyable.
Strawberries have been just beautiful this spring, so when I had an opportunity to purchase fresh berries at a local farm over the weekend, I willingly helped myself!
I put up a few berries for pies & homemade ice cream later in the season, but then I saved some for making strawberry jam.  There is something so wholesome about making your own jams and jellies.  I love to set an open jar on the table at breakfast or supper time for my family to spread on toast or biscuits.  I also like knowing what exactly is going into the mouths of my family.  No artificial flavors, sweeteners or color here!

And aren’t canned goods just so pretty?  It looks like jewels sparkling in the afternoon sun!

Making jam isn’t as difficult as some would have you believe.  Getting everything together and prepping your fruit can be time consuming, but honestly what task isn’t time consuming that is worth doing?
 I made two recipes of strawberry jam; a vanilla-laced strawberry jam and balsamic-strawberry jam.  I’m sharing the vanilla-laced jam here since it is the less tedious of the two.

Strawberry Jam w/ Vanilla

8 cups sliced strawberries
juice of half a lemon (abt. 1 1/2 Tbsp)
1 pkg. powdered pectin (I prefer Ball)
1 whole vanilla bean, scored down one side

7 cups sugar

Take your strawberries and smash them a little at a time in a large pot on the stove, until all 8 cups are smashed and juicy.   I use a potato masher for this.  Add your vanilla bean, lemon juice and pectin (making sure to stir it until it is well dissolved); then bring to a boil.  Stir constantly to keep from burning on the bottom.  Pour all of your sugar in at once.  Stir until it dissolves, then bring to a roaring boil that you can’t stir down, continuing to stir.

Remove from heat and spoon out the vanilla bean.  Ladle into prepped (sterilized) jars, seal and process in a canner about 15 minutes.  Remove and cool.  Store in a cool, dark space; you don’t want to discolor your jam!

I like my jam spread on a slice a fresh white bread.  How do you like yours?


I’m linking up to Foodie Friday this week.  Hope you’ll link over and check out what else is cooking this week!


And, I’ll leave you with a taste of Jackie Evancho.  You can let me know what you think!


Berries & Wine

Sometimes I have a craving for something different.  The last several weeks have been spent putting up a little of summer’s bounty from our garden which despite making quite the mess, was rather enjoyable.  As I was cleaning up I remembered that I had some fresh strawberries from the market in the refrigerator.  Late summer berries are not near as juicy as May berries, but they are still delicious.  Not wanting these to ruin, I decided to make jam, but wanting something different than what I made back in the spring.

these were from Durbin’s Market in Clanton, Alabama


I’m not really sure where the crazy idea to use wine in making jelly came from, but I happened upon a recipe in the Ball canning book that was simple, fairly quick, and in the end so worth making!
The ingredients are fairly simple:
1 cup sliced, hulled strawberries
2 1/2 cups white wine (I used a Riesling)
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 (3 ounce) pouch liquid pectin
In a large bowl, combine the berries and the wine, crushing the berries.  Transfer the mix to a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a deep bowl.  Let drip undisturbed for 1 hour.

When I set mine up to drip, I actually used about two cups of berries since they were rather dry.  The only difference I can imagine the berries making is the strength of the strawberry flavor.


After the juice has dripped for an hour, measure out 2 1/2 cups of the berry flavored wine.  You may have to carefully squeeze your cheesecloth to get the full amount required.  Just be careful not to let the strawberry pulp get in your mix.
Prepare canner, jars and lids.  If you haven’t canned before, here are some easy instructions for getting things ready.
In a medium saucepan, add the berry-wine mixture and sugar together.
Over medium-high heat, stir constantly and bring to a full rolling boil that you cannot stir down.  Quickly stir in the pectin and bring to a hard boil again, for about two minutes.
Remove from heat.  Working quickly, pour hot jelly into jars, leaving about a 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust the headspace if necessary, by adding hot jelly.  Clean the edges of the jars and place lids and rings on securely.   If you use Mason Jars for your canning you can use the flipping the jar method to aid in sealing your jars.  Sandy from the Reluctant Entertainer does a fabulous job at explaining this.


If it makes you feel better, or you aren’t using standard seals and rings, you need to seal your jars using the hot-water bath method.  Place your jars in a canner (or large pot), making sure they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil for ten minutes.  Turn off stove eye, letting jars sit about 5 minutes.  Remove the jars, cool and store.

This is probably the prettiest jelly ever!  When made correctly (and using liquid pectin instead of powdered) the jelly is so clear and sparkles like jewels!

{ I just love pretty canned goods! }

I made this same recipe with freshly picked blackberries and was it ever fabulous!


If you are looking for a strongly flavored jam, this one is not for you.  The fruit flavors are subtle and it is really sweet making it perfect for scones and biscuits.  Serve it up with some Brie cheese on a buffet or as an accompaniment or glaze on a grilled pork tenderloin.

And from my biggest fan & critic, my darling Audley, it is just delicious on hot biscuits with bacon for Sunday supper at 8:30.  

{Thank you sweetie!}