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Thick with sugar and the sweetest of blackberries, this Blackberry Lemon Thyme Syrup is spiked with lemon juice and thyme then canned in a boiling water bath to keep for months. Even mid-winter, you’ll enjoy the sunshine of fresh blackberries.
This week’s Sunday Supper is all about saving the summer harvest so I couldn’t resist telling you all about a new cookbook I love, Not Your Mama’s Canning Book: Modern Canned Goods and What to Make with Them by Rebecca Lindamood. We also have one copy to give away so make sure to enter the lucky draw by leaving a comment and clicking on the rafflecopter below.
It was my distinct pleasure to speak with the author last week, from her upstate New York home – in her words – in the middle of nowhere. Originally from Michigan, Rebecca grew up in the food business, starting in her parents’ commercial camp kitchen as a pot washer, gradually rising in the ranks to cook. Her next few jobs were all in professional kitchens. In fact, she says, because of her background, food safety is drilled into every single cell of her brain. As a homeschooling mother of five, she is dedicated to learning the science behind every step of cooking and canning, why something works or doesn’t work.
In the first section of Not Your Mama’s Canning Book, Canning 101, Rebecca lays out a few food safety ground rules. Always follow the instructions and either boil or pressure can, as the recipe instructs. And to make sure you also process the appropriate length of time, for goodness sake, use a timer. Equally as important, don’t experiment with the proportions of ingredients in the recipes. The proper amount of acid is crucial to whether you will end up with a safe product or one that might be harboring microbes. And nobody wants that!
A warning that surprised me was the admonition not to tip the jars to pour water off the lids when you are removing them from the canning pot. Apparently that standing water and its gradual evaporation is an integral part of the sealing process. And there are a few more. You’ll want to read this part of the book thoroughly before moving on to the wonderful canning recipes.
So why is this unlike your mama’s canning book? It’s the final section. Every canned good has at least one recipe to help you use what you’ve put by. After all, asserts Rebecca, a bunch of pretty jars on the pantry shelf is pointless if you don’t know how to use them.
I must admit that canning too much of something that we end up not using is a particular fault of mine so my favorite of Rebecca’s tips is to keep a canning diary. Her own lists how many jars she makes of what and then what they are used for. Take her salsa, for instance. Her diary would say, 100 jars salsa. (No kidding! She puts up 100 jars of salsa – and uses them all!) X number used in slow cooker with pork roast, x number with beef, x number with chicken thighs. And then, of course, Rebecca grins at this admission, an even greater number just eaten with chips. Over the years, she says, keeping the diary has made her become an adult in her canning, helping her know and therefore can what her family really eats, resulting in less waste.
As we said our goodbyes, I asked Rebecca if she had anything to add, what she most wants readers to get from her canning cookbook.
I hope that what I’ve provided here is an inspiration to people at every level, whether it’s someone who has never canned before or it’s someone who’s been canning their whole life because I really, really believe that there’s a place in canning for everybody, at every level. I want to see people having that pride when they bring that jar of something they’ve made themselves out. As they pass it along, somebody asks, ‘Where’d you get this?’ And they can say, I made it myself! Nothing feels better than that!
– Rebecca Lindamood, author of Not Your Mama’s Canning Book
Of course, the recipe I’m sharing today comes from Not Your Mama’s Canning Book: Modern Canned Goods and What to Make with Them. This blackberry lemon thyme syrup is perfect over ice cream, pancakes or waffles but, as suggested, I chose to pour it over some ice and top up with soda water. This also makes a mighty fine cocktail with the addition of a measure of vodka. I mean, you know, probably.
Blackberry Lemon Thyme Syrup
- 2 pounds 1 kg of blackberries fresh or frozen
- 2 pounds granulated sugar (907g)
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- Place a medium sized saucepan over low heat and add the blackberries. Stir gently every minute or so until the blackberries begin to release some juice.
- Add in the sugar, lemon juice and sprigs of fresh thyme. Stir just frequently enough, about every 5 minutes, to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Let everything heat gently together until softly simmering, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and squash the contents with a potato masher to release more juices.
- Place a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth over a bowl. Ladle the blackberry syrup into the sieve one ladleful at a time until all of the blackberries are in the sieve. Let it drip gently, without pressing or pushing on the blackberry solids, for about 1 hour, or until it stops dripping.If you prefer, you can move the whole set-up into the refrigerator to keep dripping overnight.
- Return the syrup to a clean saucepan and place over medium-high heat to bring to a boil.
- As soon as it reaches a boil, use a ladle to add the syrup into half-pint (8 ounce) or pint (475 ml) jars, leaving ¼ inch (6 mm) of headspace.
- Moisten a paper towel with vinegar and wipe the rims of the jars clean. Place lids on the jars and fasten appropriately, whether it’s turning a ring to fingertip tightness or fixing clamps in place.
- Use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a canner full of boiling water that covers the jars by 2 inches (5 cm).
- Put the lid of the canner in place, return the water to a boil and process for 10 minutes.
- Carefully transfer the jars to a towel-lined counter or wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely, preferably overnight, before removing any rings, wiping the jars clean and labeling.
- Store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Once opened, the syrup will be good for up to 3 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
• To make a homemade soft drink, fill a 12- or 16-ounce (350- to 475-ml) glass one-third of the way with ice cubes or crushed ice. Pour 2 tablespoons to ¼ of a cup (30 to 59 ml) of syrup over the ice and top off with well-chilled seltzer water, soda water or club soda.