Micro Canning Mulberry Jelly
We are expecting storms… I am not yet convinced they will happen but I am hoping… It would save me time watering the garden. I have so much to get to…. But still, like a small leaf riding the wind, the smell of a possible doosy hangs in the air all over the 5 acre homestead farm. It collects in the stagnant air as the clouds roll in and seem to thicken and grey before our eyes….Though everywhere else, seems to be reopening… Here at Wildflower, we remain closed indefinitely, hoping one day when it is actually safe, we can re-open. In the meantime, some of my covid nuttery gets worse. I am so busy trying to maintain 2 self sufficient lives at once that my time just isn’t my own anymore. And if I am not working I am sleeping or so tired I can’t sleep and am sitting in front of the tv quite possibly drooling… I am ashamed to say. We have exhausted a lot of tv shows and are largely limited now to the orange one’s reality tv show The Apprentice White House, if we long for new episodes that seems like all we have these days. And it is nauseating to watch over 100 thousand people dying for this orange monstrosity’s ego. There is no excuse for the number of people that have died so far. And most of them died for no reason as the virus is easily contained simply by everyone wearing a mask. And let me be very clear here….
I say this as a self sufficiency, nearly off the grid homesteader, planning to eventually get entirely off the grid… wear a damn mask. If you can cover your face in deer urinated on mask as part of your deer hunting uniform and you don’t find it hard to breathe in then don’t whine about masks. Same goes for anyone wearing a white sheet that covers from top of head to toe for anonymity during hate crimes… I don’t want to hear it if you never complain about your sheet causing you trouble breathing. If this were in fact political I would be saying to everyone in that camp DON’T wear a mask. Cuz if they can’t vote in November who wins? But life is far more important than politics. All life. Especially the lives of african americans who are being hunted in a way no other race is in this society. Kinda like some animals are endangered and all animal lives matter, but we talk about the endangered ones specifically, it’s the same reason some say BLM. And next time you happy holidays war on christmas folks get going…. Remember, if you say all lives matter, other lives may not share your holidays and all holidays matter. Not just Christmas. But I am sure I will be hearing a lot of ranting bout that in December, won’t I? Of course I will.
The protests continue and so too does the dishonesty and orangeness of some of our elected officials… Against this depressing back drop, we have chosen to almost completely go into isolation, here at Wildflower, making allowances for supplemental food when necessary and necessary and unavoidable medical care, beyond that… Yeh. We make giant leaps towards self sufficiency that we had once planned to do gradually over the next 20 years… We purchased a lot of equiptment online early on towards that agenda, at the beginning of Covid. Canners water bath and pressure, a dehydrator which I have to say I absolutely adore. An ice cream maker has become one of our regularly used tools, use of the bread machine has gone into over drive, a vacu sealer, a kit for fermenting and other fermenting tools, a popsicle maker, an ancient juicer, and for my birthday on Friday, my mother is giving us a pasta maker. We even purchased an Aerogarden, to try to cut out the grocery store between a few fresh greens and canned foods, we are hoping we can do some serious and long term avoidance of society here on our 5 acres.
Every day, has become crazy busy as it is just me mostly. Everyone else out here is still just working their 9-5 just from home rather than at work. So the entirity of self sufficiency, the needs of the home, the needs of the garden, and the needs of the animals, and all home/ and kitchen management stuff, as well as all preservation for the winter right now, it’s all me. And that is on top of making sure we have the foods we need for day to day life right now too. So it has been crazy hard to keep up here, but I am really trying. So bare with me. This blog is as much a personal diary as it is a homestead blog, and right now one aspect of what I am chronicalling, is this unbelievable shocking time in history. It is a Covid journal too. It is my space to share whatever.
Over the last couple of days, we got our first wave of ripe mulberries and all the wild growing black raspberries are ripe right now too. We used our ancient juicer after picking and keeping separate both varieties of berries presently on offer here at Wildflower. Last night, after juicing, we made some Mulberry Jelly. And the way we did it, is typically inadvisable. So let me be quite up front about that. And most would have a difficult time doing what we did. A micro batch, since we didn’t have enough for any of the large batch recipes I was only able to find online. Now most folks can’t do this cuz they don’t have a literal rocket scientist on offer to crunch numbers… I however do. Dr. Farmer Moomin, has worked directly under at least one nobel prize winning physicist, back when we were living in Canada. He is world class in his field and holds a PhD in physics courtesy of Helsinki University. Therefore, scaling the recipes for us, has worked out just fine. We after all, got a world class rocket scientist to make sure it was mathematically perfect, because with canning you have to be. If you aren’t and the chemistry of the food is off and something rots as a result, or whatever…. Worst case, we all get bottilism. And health, is just not something we mess around with. So I thought I would share our carefully calculated scaling down and our micro batch of a little over 1 jelly jar of mulberry jelly.
First I want to tell you the story of this jelly…. From beginning to end….
Once upon a time, before Wildflower Farm, came to exist, the land was owned for 20 years a by a wonderful family. They planted some seeds in the ground. Mulberry seeds. And soon little mulberry trees sprouted and began to grow…. And eventually to produce berries in vast quantities. The same exact berries I picked just the other day, and then juiced in the old ancient antique juicer from my childhood hippy commune home. Once juiced, we juiced the pulp a second time. We likely could have done a third time too but stopped with the second running. From there, the juice was poured into a pot through a cheese cloth… to get rid of excess pulp. If you like a little pulp skip this step. If you like a lot of pulp, add some back in from the juicer’s pulp waste. Then we mixed our pectin in a bowl with sugar. Once poured through the cheesecloth, our juice landed in an old fashioned copper pot from france, handmade by a french family, that has been making pots for more than the last 100 years… We took the pot to the stove and boiled it. We allowed it to boil for about a minute, at which point we brought the temperature way down and keeping it on the heat began mixing in our bowl of mixed sugar and pectin. We brought it once again to a boil mixing the whole time, we added lemon juice, and double checked that our jar was ready.
Preparing jars is not rocket science. It is however super important to making sure you are canning in something completely sterilized to ensure no one gets bottilism. Typically, we put our jars in the canner and run it on a jar preparation setting prior to running it with jars of food to be sealed. The lid, I put in a bowl, which I fill with boiled water from the electric kettle. I allow it to sit completely submerged for several minutes.
Next step is filling a very hot glass jar with the boiled concoction in the copper pot from france, on the stove. You will want a canning funnel and some tongs to handle the jar/s. Fill the hot jar with your concoction of mulberry, leaving 1/4 inch of head room at the top. Put lid on carefully the screw the ring on reasonably finger tight, you might want a dish towel between your fingers and the hot metal ring and lid as you do this step.
Jelly, is water bath canned like almost all fruit because fruit is high in acid. And according to Dr. Farmer Moomin, putting acid in a pressure canner over an open flame doesn’t end well according to the laws of physics. And I believe him, cuz the look on his face as he discusses it, is so scandalized his eyes are the size of dinner plates. We use the tongs to lift the full jar with the lid held down by the screwed on ring, back into the electric modern water bath canner, and we set it to jelly. Some time later it beeps, we use the tongs to lift it out of the canner. Now, we allow it to rest on a dish towel on the counter for 24 hours, then we check the seal by pressing the center of the lid to test to see if we get the hollow metal popping sound as it pops back out. If we get that sound, we know something is wrong. If we don’t, we allow the jelly to sit somewhere on a shelf labeled carefully with day it was made what it is and an expiration date 1 year from date of creation.
Mulberries have a lot of wonderful qualities and do a lot of amazing things for and in the body. For more on that, click here.
Our micro scale mulberry jelly recipe:
– 1 1/3 cups mulberry juice
– 1 cup sugar
– 2 tablespoons pectin
– some lemon juice (up to 1 1/3 tablespoons)
I think my favorite part of this jelly….. Is that it took some team work, which was wonderful. And also, it was one of those moments that cause me to sleep better at night. The berries, were planted here as seed grew into trees producing the exact berries for this jar of jelly. They were picked and collected by american farmers. Then, they were juiced in a sentimentally valuable, antique juicer that brings back memories of home and the smell of Dharma Room…. They were then boiled as juice in a copper pot handmade and shipped here by a family in france that has been making them this way for over 100 years….. The juice was then mixed with other ingredients, and finally poured into a jar with a lid screwed on tight, following that it took a final turn in the brand new electric water bath canner the first ever here at Wildflower….. This is the story of this beautiful edible creation…. Note, what isn’t part of this story… Fossil fuels. All berries were gathered here on farm property. A yummy win for us…. And more importantly, a win for Mother Earth….. And she can use all the help she can get right now, Covid, a pandemic we wouldn’t have now had we not overly encroached on the turf of the living things that remain wild… The best part will be eating it over the winter. I can’t wait.
As humans, no, as living things, we live in a world where we must share this planet with each other peacefully, and with all that is wild compassionately. We must, if we want to survive….. Everything in nature is a product of everything else…. Micro organisms in soil, are dependent on bio diversity, bio diversity, is dependent on the health of the soil to produce vegetation and nitches for living things to take advantage of, and then predators take advantage of their nitch, so that the cycle of forestry is complete and mother nature maintains a strict homeostasis to the benefit of all living things rather than permitting any one variety to take over….. Without bio diversity there is no poop to break down and feed the soil. It dies. Everything is linked. Each day I am here on this farm I am able to make links and understand the co-operation of nature a little bit better…. And what a beautiful dance it is. With this jar of jelly, we are a part of that dance in a way, back when we lived in the city and pushed the cart around Whole Foods, we never really were. Food like this, is nutrition not just for the body and the planet, it feeds the soul.
Thank you for listening to my covid crazy, and for joining me on the journey of this absolutely beautiful jelly. Organic, environmentally friendly to the tune of 0 fossil fuels, just yummy and natural…
I know things are tough right now. We just have to hang on. This too will pass, eventually…. But what will be next? We need to ask ourselves that as according to my count including Covid, at least 4 different pandemics have now begun in China alone in just the last 6 month. All of them except Covid, contained almost immediately so they pose little to no danger to the world…. I want to be clear about one fundimental thing at this juncture…. Covid and at least 3 other things have reared their heads in the last 6 months in china, but they could have all happened anywhere. Chinese people are not to blame for this virus. They were merely the first ones victimized by it. Rather than looking for who to blame, perhaps we should be looking for who needs our compassion, and some better environmental laws.
According to climate scientists we are living in the largest extinction event in history as a direct result of our environmental policy of abuse and neglect of the earth. I like how I live, because here was are safe and alone, and we never need to deal with or see other people, which protects us hugely while this horrible virus spreads…. And there will likely be more of these events in the not distant future, because of how we treat the environment we depend on. The good news is, we control our behavior. It is ours to change. And that…. Is what brought us here to Wildflower Farm to begin with. Several years ago when we were done with the international nomad thing and wanted a home to settle in for life. Here we are. But for how long, if more people don’t start changing their behavior, eventually the climate will even end us here at Wildflower. Covid, makes the case I have been trying to make since high school, that we must change the way we are living if we want to keep living.
Thank you for reading
Amanda of Wildflower Farm