In case you’ve never had black raspberries, let me just tell you they are the tastiest little morsels you are likely to find. Not large, over inflated, tasteless fruit you might find in a grocery store carton. Instead they are small, delectable, flavorful berries that make it worth the bug bites and scratches you will inevitably get while picking them.
Yesterday afternoon found me up to my waist in black raspberry bushes trying to pick every last one. There are some I simply cannot reach which is always disappointing. At my house, the raspberry bushes are entangled in jungle so of course I find myself planning for clearing all of the jungle from around the berry bushes and somehow maintaining my own private black raspberry collection. It will undoubtedly be harder than it looks but seems like a worthwhile pursuit- but I believe I will wait till the berries are finished lest a single one be wasted.
In the past few years, raspberries have become one of my favorite fruits to preserve by canning. Raspberries invariably get mushy when frozen, though still tasty. Canning raspberries is easier than you think, it saves the freezer space for other things, and the berries keep their shape much better.
I should also mention that in the past, I’ve done this with just regular raspberries- either picked myself at a local U-pick farm or bought at a farmer’s market. This is my first year doing black raspberries from my very own jungle. So don’t let a lack of your very own jungle stop you from trying this. You won’t regret it. Not even a little.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Wash the berries
2. Fill the jar with berries (I like half pint jars for this). You don’t want to smash the berries down, just fill the jar with as many berries as possible without smushing.
3. Make sugar syrup. 4 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar. Cook until sugar is dissolved.
4. Pour syrup over the berries and tap to get the bubbles out. Leave the usual headspace (I like to fill to where the lid rings begin). Once you tap the jar a few times to get the bubbles out, you have to top the syrup off again now that it has filled the voids.
5. Wipe jar rims, put on lids and rings, and can in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
6. Let them cool and check the lids for seal. Label your jars.
Voila! Canned raspberries (black, red, or any color that suits your fancy). I like to use canned raspberries as a treat poured over pancakes or waffles, and it is amazing over ice cream or angel food cake. You can also strain off the syrup (and use that for the above mentioned uses) and use the berries for baking.
Warning: Black raspberries stain badly. My advice is to wear clothes that you won’t cry over if they get some juice on them, and for heaven’s sake, don’t put them on the good dishtowel when you pull them out of the canner (some juice inevitably gets out) because that towel will never be the same (even knowing better, I made that mistake). So don your stained old canning apron, grab a rag towel, and get cooking!
Yesterday’s load of berries yielded six half-pints of black raspberries canned, 1 quarter-pint of mulberries canned (I’ve never done mulberries before so this jar is my experiment), lots of in the field nibbling, and another jar for something else. And there are still many, many berries left to ripen!! I love summer! And berries! And preserving that vibrant summery taste for the cold, dark days of winter!