Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blackberry Pie Filling

We are growing blackberries. Our patch is now 4 years old and doing very well. Our berries are huge! I have been picking and freezing every few days until I have enough to do something significant with them. It's tricky to save very many each picking though because we have quite a few berry snitchers who just want to eat one more before they are put away FOREVER.

This last week, on vacation along the Southern Oregon/ Northern California Coast, we were blessed to stay in the "land of wild blackberries." Growing right across the street from where we were staying was a huge patch of wild berries. We picked a few each night until we had 3 gallons of them. I froze them and brought them home in our cooler.

On returning home, I made this pie fillilng/ice cream topping/cheese cake topping/jam for toast/cupcake filling/etc. I'm not exactly sure what to refer to it as since I know it will have many uses at our house. I'm sure we will eventually get enough off of our patch to make another batch, but we don't have to wait that long.

The recipe is super easy thanks to the mysterious benefits of Ultra Gel (Ultra Sperse or Instant Clear Jel.) It's like I make magic in the kitchen every time I use it. Whatever I am making just instantly thickens into what I want.

I chose to do mine in pint jars because we often mix berry pie filling with sliced apples in our pies to stretch the berry filling and make the pie not so sweet, but still extremely tasty. I go 16 pints with this recipe.

Blackberry or Raspberry Pie Filling

8 quarts berries
7+ cups of sugar
2+ cups Ultra Sperse*
8-9 cups water
½ cup lemon juice

Wash and prepare the berries. Place them in a large bowl or pot. Mix the sugar and the Ultra Sperse together in a separate bowl. Start with 7 cups of sugar and 2 cups of Ultra Sperse. Add the water and lemon juice to the berries. (We like our pie filling heavy on the fruit so I only use 8 cups of water. If you like more gooey goodness than you can put in 9 cups of water. Just know that it will require that you use a little more Ultra Sperse.) Stir in the sugar mixture. Allow it to sit for about 1 minute and decide if it is as thick as you like. Taste it and determine if you need to add a little more sugar. We prefer lower sugar filling, but some berries are more tart than others and you just have to add more sugar to taste. If adding more sugar changes the thickness, sprinkle in just a little more Ultra Sperse and quickly work it in before it clumps. Fill jars and process in a boiling water bath. Process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 30 minutes. Adjust time for your altitude if needed. We have to add 5 minutes where we live.

*Instant Clear Jel or Ultra Gel can be substituted for Ultra Sperse. They are essentially the same product, just packaged by different companies.

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