How do you preserve summer berries that are juicy and plump? Try making blackberry black pepper jam.
Pairing big and fat blackberries with peppercorns and lemon make a sweet and spicy jam. Give a little personality to an English muffin, toast, or the brown butter corn muffins.
Making the jam with sugar and spice
To assemble a little package or sachet that contains the crushed peppercorns, make sure the cheesecloth is folded over itself so that there are no holes and peppercorns will not spill out. No one wants to bite into one that is hiding in the jam. Tightly tie up the bundle with a piece of string. Add the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and zest to a small saucepan. Nestle the cheesecloth bundle into the berries.
As the ingredients start to simmer, the berries will release juice and the sugar will dissolve. Also, make sure the sachet is submerged so that the flavor of the peppercorns is released. Once the fruit starts to boil, stir occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Because we are cooking sugar, making the jam requires a thermometer. As soon as the temperature reaches 220 degrees, the jam will be thick and needs to cool. Just be careful. A burn from hot sugar hurts, a lot!
The chunkiness of the jam is up to you. To create smaller pieces of fruit, smash it in the pan with a wooden spoon as it boils. Once the jam is cool enough to handle, remove the bundle of peppercorns, and strain it by squeezing. Also, this will release some of the pepper flavor so stir the jam to combine everything. It is up to you if you want to remove the lemon rind.
Pairing the blackberry black pepper jam with the brown butter corn muffins, I find a snack that I can savor. A hint of sweet and spice compliments the warm flavors of the butter and corn.
Blackberry Black Pepper Jam
- cheesecloth and string
- 2 cups blackberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 strips lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons black peppercorns crushed, but not ground fine
- Put the crushed peppercorns in a 4"x4" piece of cheesecloth. Fold the cheesecloth around the peppercorns so that they will not escape or leak during cooking. The idea is to let the flavor of pepper permeate the jam without the individual peppercorns loose in the jam. No one wants to bite down on a peppercorn. Tie securely with a string.
- Add the blackberries, sugar, lemon zest, and juice to a saucepan. Snuggle the cheesecloth bundle among the berries. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Once you notice the blackberries start to lose their juice, make sure the peppercorn bundle is nestled in and not floating on top. Occasionally stir, mashing the fruit as it cooks. Periodically do a temperature test on the cooking berries. The jam will be finished when it reaches 220 degrees. Let cool in the pan.
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