The mulberry tree was loaded with berries this year. Unfortunately they ripened when I was very busy with storytelling and the WV Writers Conference.
Still, Larry and I found time to shake a couple gallons of berries out of the tree. I washed and de-stemmed them and made them into Mulberry Jam.
Mulberries are very sweet, with little tartness to help the jam set. To help it along, I substitute one cup of applesauce for mulberries. The applesauce adds pectin, the ingredient that makes jelly gel.
I also added lemon juice for a little more zing.
Berries, applesauce, lemon juice and powdered pectin are stirred together over high heat and brought to a rolling boil--that's a boil that can't be stirred down.
Then the sugar is added all at one time, and stirred thoroughly into the mix. The heat remains on high, and the jam needs to be stirred a lot to keep it from sticking or scorching.
The mixture is brought to a rolling boil once again. This is the important part: When the jam is boiling hard and can't be stirred down, it much be timed for one minute, stirring the entire time.
Then it is removed from the heat, but the stirring continues.
I use a skimmer to remove foam and as many seeds as possible--mulberries have a lot of seeds! I stir and skim for 5 minutes, then ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars, put on the caps and rings, tighten the lids as tight as I can and place the jars upside down on the counter. After about 10 minutes, I turn the jars right side up and listen for the telltale snap! as they seal.
Current recommendations are to put jams and jellies into a boiling water bath canner for about 10 minutes. See the pectin package for specific instructions for various types of jam.
It took me less than an hour to make two batches of jam (about 8 pints). The berries were already de-stemmed of course. That took about an hour and a half of snipping off tiny stems. Each type of fruit seems to have some sort of drawback--either difficult to pick or difficult to process!
To see excellent step by step instructions on jam-making, go to Pick Your Own.
I love to try various combinations to make unique jams. Remember that applesauce or chopped apples can be added to reduce the amount of commercial pectin needed (a cup of applesauce, in my experience, will cut in half the amount of powdered pectin in a recipe). And that lemon juice can add tartness to fruits that are overly sweet.
Here's the finished product. A tip I learned after years of cleaning up after jam-making: put the empty, sterilized jars on a cookie sheet before you fill them. That way, there is little sticky mess on your counter.