Have you noticed all of the fruit-laden blackberry brambles growing wild along the local trails and roadsides? Grab your buckets; it’s time to start picking. Juicy pies and cobblers a la mode are scrumptious this time of year, but nothing beats the simple pleasures of warm blackberry jam, generously spooned over golden yam biscuits.
These lightly spiced biscuits are easy to make, and the jam offers a great reason to gather the kids and head outdoors in search of plump, juicy berries. Little Sammy and I made a day of it, first baking the biscuits then loading up in his trusty red wagon for a bumpy ride to my favorite berry patch.
Dwarfed by the huge bushes, Sammy looked around a bit alarmed. “Do you know to get home? Are we lost? Reassured that I knew the way home, he relaxed and worked his small hands past the thorny brambles searching for ripe berries. “Hey how come mine are red and green and yours are black?” I giggled and explained that it took a tall person to reach the top branches where the sun ripens the berries first.
As Sammy and I munched our way along the trail, he bit into a half-red, half-black berry, screwed up his face and yelled, “yuk—it’s sour. Are all the red berries in the basket bad?” I explained that actually, those unripe berries would be helpful, supplying the pectin needed to thicken our jam.
Today we had just enough berries for a small batch of jam. There would be no sterilizing of jars and lids, wrestling with bushels of fruit and rushing off to the market for commercial pectin. No, today we chose an old-fashioned recipe: one cup of fruit to one cup of sugar plus freshly squeezed lemon juice. Since ripe blackberries are low in pectin, we got ours from Sammy’s tart red berries, which contain more of this natural thickening agent.
Sammy helped me measure and slightly crush the berries to get the juices going. I took over at the stove and within 15 minutes we had the most fragrant, mouthwatering blackberry jam that couldn’t cool fast enough for either of us.
When the jam finally cooled, we found a cozy corner dug in. “This is awesome!” he said. “We make good things together, huh.” I had to agree, and knew that the only thing sweeter than fresh blackberry jam would be the memory of sharing it with Sammy.