Paul Virant is committed to "preserving nature's bounty," and you can learn the tricks of canning and preserving with his debut cookbook (and our Cookbook of the Month!), The Preservation Kitchen. Writes cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, "The book follows the cycle of the year, starring relishes, jams, marmalades, mostardas, sweet-sour condiments, sauerkrauts (cabbage and beyond) and preserved citrus you can make yourself. Yes, you can can—and this beautiful book proves it."

How much fun would it be to spread your own homemade jam?

Blackberry Jam

Makes 2 to 3 half-pints

Ingredient Volume Ounces Grams Percent
Blackberries, hulled if necessary 6 cups 2 pounds 907 grams 89%
Sugar 1/2 cup 31/4 ounces 91 grams 10%
Lemon juice 1 tablespoon 1/2 ounce 14 grams 1%

In a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the blackberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, checking the pot frequently until the juices start to release, about 5 minutes. Cool, transfer to a storage container, and refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days.

Pour the blackberries into a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Once the juices are boiling, uncover the jam and continue to cook briskly until the mixture hits 212?F and sets up softly when tested on a chilled plate (see page 57), about 15 minutes. While the jam is cooking, use a ladle to skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

Scald 3 half-pint jars in a large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack—you will use this pot to process the jars. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter. Meanwhile, soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the rubber seal.

Transfer the blackberry jam to a heat-proof pitcher and pour into the jars, leaving about a 1/2-inch space from the rim of the jar. Wipe the rims with a clean towel, seal with the lids, then screw on the bands until snug but not tight.

Place the jars in the pot with the rack and add enough water to cover the jars by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 10 minutes (start the timer when the water reaches a boil). Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for a few minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let cool completely.

At the Table: bittersweet chocolate marquise with summer berry jam (page 288)

Reprinted with permission from The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux by Paul Virant with Kate Leahy, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: Jeff Kauck © 2012. Read our review of this book.

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