Preserve up the bounty of sweet summer saskatoon berries in jars of glistening saskatoon jelly. A special ingredient helps enhance the berries’ natural flavour.
I’m heading off to my parents’ cabin, and before I go I want to to leave you with another saskatoon recipe – in case you’re still dealing with the delicious tail end of your berry harvest.
For years, I made very little jam or jelly, since my mother-in-law supplied us with a veritable treasure chest of jewel-toned jars filled with every fruit or berry that could be jammed or jellied: topaz lemon/marrow to golden apricot to ruby raspberry to deep amethyst-black saskatoon and every gleaming shade of jam or jelly in between.
Now, Granny’s off the farm and enjoying her rest (painting and crafting up a storm), so I’ll have to start jammin’ again. I’m not very musical, so my ‘jamming’ is of the sweet edible variety and involves fruit and sugar.
Our saskatoon harvest has been abundant this year.
And I’ve been making my kind of music in the kitchen.
The jelly kettle has been bubbling, and I’ve been humming along (as long as there’s nobody within hearing range – the dog doesn’t count).
Saskatoons are such a luscious berry. They’re sweet and nutty, with floral and slightly almond overtones. So hard to describe and incomparable to any other berry out there.
In the system of scientific classification for plants, saskatoons belong to the same botanical order (Rosales) and family (Rosaceae) as roses. Reading that was an ‘aha!‘ moment for me. Of course. That would explain the faint floral flavour. The berries almost look like little purple rosehips and they’re full of seeds, too (though much more juicy than rosehips).
Adding a touch of rosewater to this homemade saskatoon jelly is a magical flavour enhancer, bringing out the sweet best in those wonderful berries – a natural pairing. That subtle hint of rosy flavour takes the jelly from fruity to fantastic.
Don’t be Afraid of Making Jelly
Just cook up the saskatoon berries with a bit of water.
Dump them into a jelly bag or damp tea towel laid into a colander.
Tie up the bag around a wooden spoon.
Leave to drip.
And voilà – you’ve got a beautiful clear juice you can now cook up to make your sparkling, wibbly, wobbly saskatoon jelly.
Your morning toast and jelly experience will be a gourmet treat.
Or use the saskatoon jelly to make this amazing creamy, fruity, saskatoon ice cream. (You can’t get that flavour in a store!)
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Of course you can omit the rosewater and still have a wonderful, simple saskatoon jelly with a full fruit flavour.
Rosewater is made by steeping rose petals in water – pure, simple, edible rose essence. It can be found in import stores and some large supermarkets.
Bottled reconstituted lemon juice is recommended in jelly making since its acidity is standardized – more reliable than using fresh lemon juice, which can vary greatly in acidity levels. A certain amount of acidity is necessary in jelly making to ensure a pH level that will promote jelling and prevent spoilage.
- 2 kg (4lb, 6oz) saskatoons (14 cups/3½ quarts of berries)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (6 tablespoons/90ml) bottled reconstituted lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon rosewater (optional)
- 7½ cups (1.5kg) sugar
- 2 pouches liquid pectin (170ml in total)
* The jelly might not set if you double the recipe – make one batch at a time.
Pick over the saskatoons. Rinse them and drain them well. (See an easy saskatoon cleaning technique here.)
Combine the berries and the water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the juice by pouring the cooked berries into a jelly bag hanging over a bowl. (Tie the corners together and slip a wooden spoon through, under the knot. Hang the spoon between two chairs. (See photo above.)
If you don’t have a jelly bag, you can makeshift one by using a clean damp tea towel (it will become stained) or layering 3 to 4 sheets of cheesecloth into a colander. Moisten the cloth, add the berries, gather up the corners, and tie them into a bundle. Leave the fruit to drip for 3 to 4 hours – until you have 3½ cups juice. Do not squeeze the fruit or you’ll have cloudy jelly. If you don’t get quite enough juice, you can top it up with water to make 3½ cups.
Prepare and sterilize canning jars. Run clean jars through the hottest setting in your dishwasher and leave them in there to stay hot until you need them. Set the metal lids into a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring them to a simmer and leave them simmering on low heat, to fish out of the water directly when you seal the jars.
In a large saucepan, combine 3½ cups prepared saskatoon berry juice, lemon juice, rosewater (if using) and sugar. The pot should be no more than half full to allow plenty of room for the boiling jelly. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat.
Stir in the liquid pectin, squeezing all the pectin out of the pouches. Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and skim off any foam floating at the top of the jelly.
Working quickly, pour the jelly into warm, sterilized jam jars to within ¼ inch of the top. Wipe any drips on the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with sterilized lids and seal, screwing jars finger-tight. Let cool undisturbed. You should hear the lids “pop” as they seal and see that the vacuum has sucked the lid down so it doesn’t move when pressed with a finger (but don’t press the lids until the jars are completely cooled.)
If any jars didn’t seal (the lid will still bulge upward slightly and moves when pressed with a finger), store those jars in the refrigerator and use within a few months.
Makes 8 cups (8 half-pint/250ml jars).
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