My mom grew up in Oregon, and my grandparents moved back there when I was four. One of my favorite things about summer vacation, along with my annual doses of sugary cereal and cable television, was marionberry season.
A few weeks before our trip to Juneau, my mom had been down in Eugene visiting my grandfather, so she bought about 12 pounds of just-picked, frozen marionberries and brought them home with her. Rather than cart them home with me, I decided to make jam right away so I could share it with her.
The idea for the candied lemons was inspired by Christine Ferber's Strawberry-Lemongrass Jam, and it adds a subtle, interesting flavor to the berries. Using the pith of the lemon instead of just juice also helps to add pectin to what would otherwise be a very low-pectin jam.
I made the mistake of continuing to boil the jam during my last freezer test, which resulted in a more firmly-set jam than I prefer, but blackberries and their relatives are very forgiving - I just stir up the whole jar when I open it and it's just fine. As my mom says, "that just means you have to spread it on more thickly".
Marionberry Jam with Candied Lemons
(inspired by Christine Ferber)
Due to a naturally low pectin level, blackberries and their kin need longer boiling than some fruits. Luckily, the flavor of these fruits holds up very well to longer cooking times.
7 C granulated sugar
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 C water
2 lemons, very thinly sliced (preferably unsprayed)
6 lb marionberries, fresh or frozen
Mix the sugar, juice, and water in a large pot over medium heat. Stir gently and occasionally to prevent the mixture from caramelizing.
When the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture has come to a boil, add the lemon slices and reduce the heat slightly. Boil until the lemon is candied, about 5 minutes.
Add the berries and bring the mixture back to a low boil. (If desired, you can now let the mixture cool and set aside to finish the following day.)
Boil at medium or medium-high heat, stirring regularly to prevent scorching, 25-45 minutes (I cooked mine about 40 minutes and got a nice firm jam - firmer than I usually prefer). Test the set according to your favorite method and can as desired.
Makes 10-12 half-pints