Summers are warm and sunny in Montana, but the growing season is short. Everything grows like crazy in a short period of time trying to finish its life cycle before the snow flies in the fall.
My family and I take advantage of all of this summertime abundance by picking wild huckleberries on Big Mountain, sweet cherries along the shore of Flathead Lake, and crisp apples from the tree in our backyard. My kitchen teems with fruit and by mid-August, it's time to make preserves. It seems like the picking, cleaning, peeling, and pitting will never end! I actually have to prepare myself mentally for the task of home canning.
Don't misunderstand me. I am very grateful for the abundance of fresh fruit, but preserving all of nature's goodness means two weeks of non-stop canning! The work seems endless, but in the end, there is a sense of accomplishment and the results make it well worth the effort. My family and I really do enjoy the fruits of our labor - so to speak.
3 Family Favorites
There's nothing on this planet that compares to the sweet Lambert cherries grown in the Flathead Valley and if you are a cherry lover, Lamberts make the absolute sweetest jam. A dollop of cherry jam on a serving of vanilla ice cream will set your taste buds to dancing!
Homemade applesauce is far superior to the store-bought kind. It's the perfect topping on a stack of pancakes and it brings back memories too. Let me explain. When I eat my pancakes with fresh applesauce, I think of my Granny because she always served her German pancakes with a side of applesauce. That was the only way I ate pancakes growing up. It's funny to think about it now, but I didn't know what pancake syrup was until I was well into my teens.
All of the above preserves are delicious, but my huckleberry jam wins hands down in texture and out-of-this-world flavor! It is by far, the family favorite.
There is nothing like popping off the lid of a jar of huckleberry jam and taking a whiff of its natural goodness. It is so good it turns breakfast time and a piece of toast into a party of the taste buds! And when it's taken out of the pantry in January, it's one of the bright spots in winter for all of the hard work put in at harvest time.
You are going to love this recipe! Guaranteed! If you don't have huckleberries in your area, blueberries will work just fine. But in my humble opinion, huckleberry jam can't be beaten.
Without further adieu, here's the recipe.
Marlene's Homemade Huckleberry Jam
- (1) 1.75 oz. package Ball Original Fruit Pectin
- 4 cups crushed huckleberries (2 1/2 lbs or 6, 6 oz. containers)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 cups sugar
1. Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.
2. Combine prepared fruit (rinse in cool water and remove any leaves, stems, etc.) with lemon juice in a 6 or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in Ball Original Fruit Pectin. Add up to 1/2 teaspoon butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
3. Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
4. Follow "Fresh Preserving Instructions" for water-bath canning.
-Recipe Source: Ball Original Fruit Pectin Package Insert
Do you have any canning tales! Simple success or dreaded disaster? Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear about it!
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