12 August 2010

The best thing about Oregon...

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.

candied lemons

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

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

marionberry jam with candied lemons


  1. do you store these in the refrigerator?

  2. Jen,

    I don't, no. I know a lot of people are really careful about processing cans in boiling water, but I have gotten lazy - I just put the hot jam in hot, well-washed jars and let them cool. If the jars don't seal (2 of my 11 didn't), they need to be refrigerated.

    Note: The people at local Extension Services and the National Health whatever (can't remember the acronym) will tell you that this is bad bad bad, but I can't bring myself to worry about it that much. If you want to can them, I would look at a blackberry jam recipe in a Ball book or somesuch and process for the length of time that calls for (usually 15-20 minutes for blackberry, I think).

    Hope that helps!

  3. This jam is beautiful. Oregon and Washington are where it's at when it comes to fruit.

    About processing...With a high-acid fruit preserve like this it's not really a safety issue. It's just a matter of ensuring the seal and thus preventing mold. Process (10 minutes if the jars haven't been sterilized first) or not.

  4. Liana,

    Good to know that there isn't a safety issue - so many people/organizations are so dogmatic about the processing that they make it sound like we're all going to DIE if we don't process everything. I know that's not usually true, but I can never keep track of when or why.

    And jam makes me inordinately happy. I may be set for holiday gifts this next year from my jam- and preserve-making alone!

  5. The jam looks amazing! My name is Katy, and in my search for a great jam picture I stumbled across your blog. Could I use this image for a save-the-date post card I'm making for a local event, called the Local Food Connection in Eugene, OR?
    thank you,