How to Can Blackberry Syrup
August is prime blackberry season in the Pacific Northwest. The best part? In a land where blackberries grow like weeds, picking is absolutely free! Find a safe, easily accessible public place and go crazy.

We have let blackberries take over a small section of our side yard. Well, it used to be small. They have kind of become like those house guests you invite to stay the night, and they end up spending the week. You love them, but you are ready to have your space back. How do you get them to leave?! It’s hard to whack them out in June when we know they will be so sweet in August. The blackberries, not the house guests.

Two weeks ago, I headed out and picked a half-flat in less than an hour. Blackberries definitely make you work harder than any of the other berries, and I have the scratches to prove it. Wearing long sleeves and using a big stick help or pruning shears makes the job easier. The work is worth it, though, because the payoff is delicious. What a great way to load your freezer with free fruit.

Related: U-Pick Produce: 9 tips for success

When it comes to canning, I typically keep things pretty simple. We are not big fans of specialty this or spiced that; they usually end up collecting dust in our pantry. However, when I came across this recipe for Blackberry Syrup in the August 2012 issue of Sunset magazine, it sounded too good to pass up. This sweet syrup is perfect spooned over pancakes, plain yogurt, or ice cream (be sure to add some Maple Cluster Granola!).

One batch will yield five half-pints. Unlike jam, this recipe involves the tedious step of straining out the seeds. At first, my frugal heart balked. Discard all that hard work? But back to the free thing. There are definitely more where those came from.

This syrup would make a great hostess gift or a sweet addition to a dessert or breakfast themed gift basket! I plan to be someone else’s house guest, spending a peaceful night in a guest cottage overlooking the ocean… So, feel free to invite me over. I will only stay one night and will leave a jar of Blackberry Syrup on my pillow when I go.

Related: Best gifts for the hostess in your life

Blackberry Syrup
Recipe from Sunset magazine
Yield: 5-6 half pints
3 lbs. (about 9 cups) blackberries
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 T. lemon zest
1/4 c. lemon juice
Put berries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and 3/4 cup water into a wide pot. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit releases juices, about 30 minutes. Smash berries with a potato masher. Cook until juices have thickened, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes more. Strain syrup into a 2-qt. glass measuring cup. Press fruit with a ladle to push remaining juice into cup. Discard seeds and pulp. Pour strained syrup into jars, leaving 1/2 in. of head space. Process 10 minutes. Learn more about water bath canning here.
Are you new to canning? Be sure to go through our Home Canning Guide posts for a beginners guide, equipment suggestions, and recipes!

There are many kitchen gadgets that are more for looks than function and end up just cluttering drawers. When it comes to canning, a Jar Lifter (Amazon) is not one of those. It is a must-have tool for moving hot jars in and out of the canner. Thankfully, a good one is around five bucks and will last for years.

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Find more frugal homemaking posts here and a list of amazing recipes here.

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