IMG_1175The homestead guilt I have felt for the past two years of working my buns off on Spark Freedom instead of furthering the homestead has been immense. On the one hand, my personal goals of independence are important and I am not getting any younger. On the other, Spark Freedom has a valuable, freedom-oriented mission that I am willing to put my all into. The upshot? We didn't keep up on yard trimming and the local farmers here have seen some of my dollars while I buy in-season veggies to preserve for the winter when my crops failed.

Guilt is now gone - As it turns out, Mr. Kruse, master gardener and bunker builder, must have planted some blackberries when he built this homestead retreat. We had a bumper crop that is already done well before the local wild blackberries even thought of ripening. Having gorged ourselves on as many fresh ones as possible, we decided some blackberry jam would be excellent this winter.

If you have not made jam before, it is the second easiest way to start canning and the Christmas gift payoff fantastic. All you have to do is buy a box of pectin and follow instructions in the package. To protect your family against food-born pathogens, don't follow grandma's method of baking jars upside down to seal lids. This has not been an acceptable preservation method for a very long time and with reason. If anything manages to get in there while you are pouring the hot jam into the jars, or if you did not do well sterilizing your jars, you may end up with moldy, wasted preserves.

Anyway, the lesson learned this year on the blackberries (wild and domestic) is that simply following the instructions on my packages of pectin yielded runny jam. If you are running a local batch here in Dekalb County, I recommend you add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or increase your pectin amount if you are using jarred pectin.