In the summer, the words “Oregon” and “berry” are practically synonymous. Oregon’s fields and farms are not only flush with the kinds of berries I’ve eaten my entire life (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), but also ripe with berries of which I had only passing familiarity (gooseberries, marionberries) before moving here, along with berries I’d never heard of at all, namely tayberries.
Though not scientifically based, after putting a few pints in my stomach and four pounds into this jam, I feel that I’ve gathered enough evidence to declare tayberries queen of the berries. For supporting proof, consider their royal hue, which looks ruby red or purple depending on your angle and the falling light. But more important than their crest-worthy color is their decidedly decadent taste.
Tayberries, a blackberry-raspberry cross, will melt in your mouth while summoning up memories of picking wild raspberries – even if these are phantom memories – and drinking that last dribble of red wine after a festive dinner. In fact, if you happen to go wine tasting and are looking for that just-out-of reach flavor description, you might want to call out “essence of tayberry”. Everyone will either think you’re insufferable, or that you have a spot-on palate.
Turning tayberries into jam was the simplest of proposals. When I transferred them from bowl to preserving pan, the berries at the bottom half of the bowl had already started to macerate, well before I added sugar or lemon juice. The tayberries seemed eager to break down, making it one of the quickest jams I’ve made to date. I barely had enough time to freeze a few testing spoons before the jam was ready to be canned.
I plan on saving a few of these jars to serve with a cheese plate. Their wine-like flavor will make a perfect accompaniment (as would a glass of wine).
Recipe Source: Blue Chair Jam
Yield: 5 8 ounce jars
- 3 1/2 lbs tayberries (separated by 1 1/2 lbs and 2 lbs)
- 2 lbs sugar (or a little less, personal preference>
- 4 1/2 ounces lemon juice
- Place a saucer with 3-4 teaspoons in your freezer. You’ll use this to test the jam later.
- Combine 1 1/2 pounds of berries with the sugar and lemon juice in a cooper preserving pan or wide kettle. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the juice begins to run from the berries. Increase the heat to high and continue to cook and stir, until the mixture boils.
- Boil this mixture for 5 minutes while stirring. You may need to lower the heat slightly if it starts to stick. After 5 minutes of boiling, add the remaining 2 pounds of tayberries, stirring to combine.
- Bring the mixture back to a boil over high heat, stirring every 45 seconds or so. Once it reaches a boil, cook for about 15 minutes more, but start testing for doneness after 10 minutes.
- To test the jam, remove a spoon from the freezer and put a small dollop onto the spoon. Return the spoon to the freezer for 3-4 minutes. If the jam has thickened to a jelly-like consistency when you nudge it and refuses to run, your jam is done. If it runs or is too watery, continue to cook and then test on another freezer spoon.
- Turn off the heat from the jam. Don’t stir. Skim all the remaining foam from the surface of the jam.
Are you storing it?
Using a stainless steel spoon or a ladle to transfer the jam into its storage containers. Let cool on the counter before putting into the refrigerator. Keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
Are you canning it?
Ladle into oven sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. (To sterilize your jars in the oven, heat your oven to 250 degrees before placing your jars and lids onto cookie sheets. Keep in the oven for at least 30 minutes, but longer is fine, too.)
After filling your jars and securing the lids (use gloves if the jars are too hot to handle) carefully put the jars back on the cookie sheet(s) for 15 minutes.
Remove the jars from the oven, keeping them on their sheet(s). Put the sheet on a wire rack and cool them overnight. Test the seal and place any that didn’t seal into the refrigerator. Store the rest in a cool place for up to 8 months.