Our CSA basket is usually my barometer of the seasons, and last week I got the clear message of Summer with 4 baskets of delicious berries. Of course they were gone within 24 hours, but even while reaching for the last of the delicate blackberries, I already started thinking about how sad it will be when they are finally gone.
My second thought then goes to saving these little guys so that I can eat them in some fashion even in our “freezing” California Winter, the most obvious being jam-not dissing it, love me some jam-but what else can I do? Canning some pie filling would actually be a wonderful way to enjoy summertime berries-what a great gift for yourself during the holidays.
The following is a recipe to make 1 quart of berry pie filling or enough for 1 pie- I figured that it would be all you could bear to set aside!
MIXED BERRY PIE FILLING
4 cup mixed berries-whatever you have left!
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Clear Jel (*see note below)
1 cup cold water
3 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp orange zest
Wash berries and remove any damaged parts as well as any stems. If you have blueberries in your bunch, blanch them for a minute in boiling water. Stir sugar and Clear Jel together in a non-reactive pot. Add water and cook on medium-high until you see the mixture thicken and it begins to bubble a little. Add lemon juice and boil for a minute more. Fold in the berries and zest and turn off heat. Prepare jar and lid for canning. Fill with about 1 inch headspace, remove air bubbles and clean rim of jar. Process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes.
Once sealed, it can be kept in a cool dry place for about a year at peak flavor (but why would you want to wait that long),.opened, the filling lasts almost a month in the fridge.
*what the heck is Clear Jel?? Clear Jel a here and here for starters. There are conversions out there that substitute tapioca flour or cornstarch for Clear Jel, but the heat stability for them might not work-you may end up with something watery. Personally I would suggest this only if you are NOT planning to process the filling-which just means you have to eat it sooner (not a bad problem to have actually).that can withstand the heat of cooking/canning. Unfortunately, not too many places have it on the shelves, but as the food preservation movement grows, hopefully that will change. For now you can find it on-line
Any questions, I am usually available at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market once a month!