Blackberry-Apricot Jam

blackberry jam 1-text

As I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned here before, not many things make me as happy as berry-picking.

When I noticed that we had, for once, stuck around Tofino long enough in August that the tangled blackberry thicket at the corner of Main and Fourth was starting to bear fruit, I grabbed one of the ice cream buckets stacked outside the Sugar Shack (the sign reads: “free ice cream buckets! lids make great Frisbees for your dog!”), which in the past we’ve used to corral crabs, and crossed the street, the Alberta girl in me wondering how everyone in town wasn’t over there with a bucket. Don’t they realize the street value of a punnet of fresh blackberries?

blackberry Collage

Part of what I love about blackberry picking, besides the fact that – hello, they’re freebies! – is the element of danger. Years ago, when we lived in Vancouver and would drive out to UBC to spend the afternoon in pursuit of wild blackberries, we’d joke about investing in full-body chain mail so that we could walk directly into the middle of the thicket. Blackberries lure you in with their round, juicy drupulets, then snag your clothes or skin with their thorny tendrils and won’t let go. Leaning in for a plump berry that’s just beyond your reach while pulling in every other part of your body in an attempt to avoid being scratched or gouged is its own form of yoga.

(Huckleberries, on the other hand, are far more welcoming, but the fruit, like tiny pink-red seedless cherries on spindly branches, is far more dispersed, so while there is no danger of drawing blood, you have to pluck one at a time to get enough to do anything with. Which is why most often I make huckleberry-otherberry pies, crumbles and jam; tiny and tangy, huckleberries accessorize stone fruits and other berries well.)

blackberry jam 4

Whatever it is I manage to forage, most often the fruits of my efforts come home to be turned into pies, crumbles and jam; the former tasting as much of summer as Tofino feels, the latter being the easiest way to transport that flavour back to Calgary and dole out on toast as the weather starts to cool again. Normally I’d toss whatever fruit I happen to be inspired by into a pot with some sugar and cook it into jam; this time I referred to Marisa over at Food in Jars for some direction, and came across a blackberry-apricot combo that was too alluring to pass up.

blackberries 2

I chopped the two ripe apricots that happened to be in the fruit bowl and simmered them with twice as many blackberries and about half as much sugar until they turned into thick jam with the smooth, round, floral flavour of apricot offset by the thrill of blackberry.

I have an ulterior motive: to make a batch of Dorie Greenspan’s trademark cookies, jammers good enough to name after her cookie company, Beurre & Sel. Not just any jam will do here; I wanted something multi-dimenstional, sweet-tart and complex, chunkier than the (lovely!) chokecherry jam that came with us from home, and more sincere than something store bought.

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My two apricots and about two cups of blackberries made a small cereal bowlful of jam – enough for plenty of toast, two dozen substantial cookies that could easily be called tarts, and enough to keep us going for the rest of the week – or at least a few days. You don’t need vats of berries and enormous stock pots to make jam. These fresh blackberries and diced apricots, with their skins, were mashed in a saucepan with almost as much sugar as the full quantity of fruit. Stir/mash with a potato masher as it simmers – it should take 10-20 minutes – and as it transforms into jam, it will thicken, the bubbles slowing as they grow and break in the pot.

blackberry apricot jam Collage

You will know it’s jam when it looks like jam – no need to put a saucer in the freezer for the wrinkle test – it will thicken in the pot, leave a trail behind your spoon or potato masher, and resemble what you imagine hot jam would look like, because that’s what it is.

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It’s best if you let it cool a bit before spooning onto your toast; a small batch will live in your fridge or on your counter as needed, and not require the added pressure of properly sealing in jars for long-term storage. Just make sure you save enough to make a batch of cookies. (Recipe to follow!)

blackberry jam 2


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17 comments on “Blackberry-Apricot Jam

  1. Kathy H
    August 11, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    What lovely, luscious-looking berries! And the jam! Well, now I’m hungry for toast with blackberry apricot jam 🙂

  2. Jake
    August 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I agree, nothing better than berry picking on an August morning! I also agree re: blackberries/ west coasters…. Free berries people! I was in Vancouver last weekend, and foraging almost took over my relaxing weekend agenda, but not quite (fireworks and cocktails at Killjoy instead) This weekend buckets of Okotoks garden raspberries and secret spot Saskatoons – around 10 lbs of each. Bliss. Saskatoon pie for Sunday dinner, and jars of raspberry jam for the winter stash. Plus lots of both in the freezer.

    Your photog’s are great!


  3. Jan
    August 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    I’m pretty sure I could just sit down and polish off a jar of your blackberry apricot jam. I really love apricot jams. OK, fine. I love all jams.

    So true about the bubbles changing as the jam thickens! Such a good indicator of set. And if it’s under-thickened, well then, it’s ice cream topping 😉

  4. molly
    August 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    must make jam must make jam must make jam…

    (too many years in scary microbiology job turned me off canning. this small-batch approach is so what i need.)

  5. sara
    August 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Yum! That is seriously gorgeous. 🙂

  6. Laurie from Burnaby
    August 12, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I have bird-seeded blackberries growing over my patio (despite my efforts to remove them) so I decided to make peace with them, and they’re covered in berries right where I can reach them. 🙂 I’ve had them for breakfast, and made little batches of jam. 😀
    Do you know how I could make jam without using sugar for my diabetic fiance? He’s type 1, and has had it since he was a kid, and I do want to make him jam before we move.
    Thanks, Julie.
    I hope you’re enjoying Tofino. My ex’s son was there last week and is complaining about it being cold and showery.

  7. Vivian
    August 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Lovely jam and such a simple way of making it. I found some “Black Velvet” apricots recently and made a small batch saucepan jam with them, some chopped fresh rosemary and vanilla. So good. Now I want to try your recipe!

  8. Laura
    August 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Mmmmm what a great combination of flavors!

  9. Amber@BareNaturalMommy
    August 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I want to try your recipe!! What beautiful pictures, I love your blog.

    Tofino sounds a lot better than Saskatchewan! 🙂

  10. Amy
    August 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    So yummy looking! does anyone know how long this jam would keep in the fridge? I made some strawberry skillet jam last year, but we used it all right away, so I didnt need to worry about any kind of expiry.

  11. casacaudill
    August 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    How have I never heard of your blog before – it pairs two of my favorite things: cooking and Tofino! I’ll definitely be sticking around.

  12. Cathy
    August 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

    This looks like a fabulous combination!! I really want to tell you that your sharing the idea of making small batches of jam, anytime, with anything has literally changed my life!! We always have fresh, in season jam for toast, waffles, ice cream, and spoons now, with no hassle or planning what so ever!! Thank you so much Julie 🙂

  13. John
    June 21, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Although it might not be the biggest issue for most people, I find the many blackberry seeds an irritation in jams. I like texture, but not HARD texture. I’ve found that a tomato press (used for extracting pulp from Roma tomatoes) works wonderfully for getting the seeds and berry caps out of the blackberries. Run the berries through once and then the seedy discard one more time to extract the maximum pulp from the berries. You end up with a wonderfully smooth and intense blackberry extract which makes great jam.

    • Julie
      June 22, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      What a wonderful suggestion! I’m going to try it – thanks!

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