If for the rest of my life, I had only one choice of a fruit jam, that jam would be mulberry, hands down. I could forgo even raspberry, strawberry or grape for this delectable little tree berry. Mulberries even want you to pick them with their willowy branches, lack of thorns and tall stature. They are not some prickly little bush one has to bend over to get to the jewel. Each berry can either be slightly tart or oh so sweet. So perfect for eating, making jam or adding into food or recipes.
My cupboard is stocked with mulberry jam. I make it twice a year in Hawaii; April and September. I make enough so that I can give it to friends and family. They are so happy to get a jar that they often will give back 10 times greater than its worth.
Today, I gave my friend, Yeshuah, her second, 8 ounce jar of mulberry jam for helping me with my bee hives. She held the jar in her hands and hugged it close to her body, as one would a cherished gift. She told me each night she waits for most everyone to go to bed before her and her cousin each take a spoonful of jam, sit down and savor it. I asked her for the jar back and walked over to my cupboard and put it back. I then reached for a 16 ounce jar and gave it to her. Enjoy my friend, you work hard and you deserve it!
Mulberries hold a special childhood memory for me. Our neighbor had a large tree in her backyard and one year she let a bunch of us kids, including my sister, Tina, and me, climb up into it and eat to our hearts content. Imagine that happening now a days with the threat of liability – letting a bunch of kids you barely know climb your tree! But we were not novice tree climbers by far.
The only TV we watched was Sunday night’s, “The Wonderful World of Disney,” and Saturday cartoons which Sunday school, formally moved to Saturday, put a huge damper on. Cartoons weren’t on 24/7 like they are now a days. The rest of the time we were outside. My poor mom was always calling for me and she often had no response. Most likely, I was in a tree or down by the crick.
When we moved to this land in Hawaii and found the mulberry tree, I was like that little kid again stuffing berries into my mouth and dreaming. I often fantasize when I’m picking mulberries. I make believe I’m a hunter/gatherer and I’m picking berries to bring back to my berry eating tribe. It’s very grounding and keeps me in touch with my roots.
I have made mulberry wine, mulberry vinegar and countless desserts with my berries but lately I’ve been making mulberry jam, it’s just that good. If you have a mulberry tree then you should be making jam. It’s easy! There is really nothing to fear. You can do it. If you don’t have a mulberry tree then get one. They grow just about everywhere. You can take a branch from a tree and put it in directly into the ground or pot and it will root. Imagine that!
How to make jam:
- 5 cups of crushed berries
- 7 cups of sugar
- 1/2 tsp. of butter
- 1 package of sure-jell fruit pectin
You will need:
- canning pot equipped with rack or large pot
- canning tongs
- new lids with bands and clean jelly jars
- canning funnel
- large sauce pot
Sterilize jars in canner with a hot water bath first. Later, just before you are ready to fill jars with jam throw in the bands and lids for a few minutes.
In sauce pot, add the crushed berries and sure-jell and bring to a rolling boil. A rolling boil is when you stir the berries and it still boils and doesn’t stop boiling. Add the sugar and butter (to prevent foam) and stir constantly. Also, bring this to a rolling boil and leave boiling for one minute while stirring constantly and then turn off the heat. Skim off any excess foam with a spoon and discard. You have now made the jam.
Take out the hot jelly jars and lids with the tongs pouring out the water and set up right on a kitchen towel. The heat of the jars should evaporate any remaining water drops. Ladle the jam into the jars using the jar funnel. Fill leaving a 1/8 inch gap at the top. Take a paper towel and wipe off any water or jam on the lid and jar rims/threads. Place the lid on the jar and screw the band on tight. Repeat until you have all jars filled and capped. Any remaining jelly or if you simply don’t want to preserve every jar, you can put the jam in a clean jar, cool and store in the refrigerator or cool and it can be eaten right away.
Place jars on rack in canner. Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. If not add extra boiling water. Cover and gently boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool. Let sit over night leaving them undisturbed. The next day check that the seals have worked by pressing middle of lid with your finger. If it’s solid and doesn’t boing up and down, it’s sealed. If not sealed, you can still eat it but you can’t store it on the shelf, you must refrigerate it. Remove the screw bands and store with just the lids on. You can store up to a year in your pantry and if anything goes wrong the lid will pop off telling you that it’s no longer edible.