Blackberry jam was my mother’s favorite flavor of jam and every summer when the local blackberries were ripe, she canned lots of jars of blackberry jam. As I recall, every wooden spoon in her kitchen was stained dark blue. I am not a canner and have no desire to be, but when I came across this recipe for skillet jam, I knew I had to give it a try. Mom, I hope you are smiling down from heaven and know that I’m thinking of you today.
Skillet Blackberry Jam
Gourmet Comfort – makes about 1 ½ cups
1 lb fresh or frozen and thawed blackberries (4 cups)
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin. I used Sure Jell. (Do not substitute liquid or low-sugar pectin.)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Mash blackberries with a potato masher or a fork in a large bowl. Stir together the berries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, then boil, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Transfer jam to a large shallow bowl, cover jam surface with wax paper, and chill until softly set, at least 30 minutes. Jam will set further if chilled longer. Jam keeps, chilled in an airtight container, for 2 weeks.
Dress the jam up a little and it makes a nice gift for a special lady in your life for Mother’s Day.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to share with you these words from The Help. I’m sure most, if not all of you, have either read the book or seen the movie. They are words to live by and something every child should be taught.
I grew up in the Deep South region of the US and my family had help. Rhoda was what you might call my “other mother.” My father was stationed in the South Pacific during WWII and when I was born, my mother and I lived with his parents. While my mother taught school during the day, Rhoda babysat me, fed me, bathed me, changed my diapers, held me when I cried, and did whatever was necessary. When my grandmother walked up the block to her canasta game, it was Rhoda who pushed my stroller while one of my father’s bird dogs followed behind. Everyone in town knew where my grandmother was by where my empty baby stroller was, parked outside one of her friends’ home with the bird dog guarding it. I loved Rhoda with the same deep love and affection I gave to my mother and my grandparents, and later when my father returned home, to him as well.
Contrary to what the movie depicted about the South, not everyone that had help in households barred them from the bathroom or accused of stealing the family silver. In our home Rhoda was family. My mother taught her how to make blackberry jam I’m sure.
During that time pediatricians believed that babies should be fed on a schedule and if they cried, just let them, so that’s exactly what my mother did. And cry I did. While my mother was teaching, it was Rhoda that held me when I got cranky and comforted me when I was hungry. What’s funny now is that to this very day, when I get hungry and can't eat right away, I still get cranky. Very cranky, just ask my husband Meakin.
I haven’t heard from Rhoda since my parents died almost 28 years ago. But this I can tell you. She instilled in me those wonderful words from The Help and I am a much better person for it today.
I was very blessed to have two wonderful mothers. Happy Mother’s Day everyone.