It’s been…an embarrassingly long time since I posted an actual recipe here, but the jam I concocted the other night was absolutely too good not to share immediately.
I bought a flat of amazingly juicy blackberries at the market a few weeks ago, and the first thing I made with them (after I managed to stop eating them straight out of the basket) was blackberry liqueur (3 parts blackberries, 2 parts vodka, 1 part brandy). This may even surpass damson plum gin as my favorite infused booze.
A week or so later, I strained out the berries and tossed them with more fresh blackberries (3 pounds of fruit total) and a cup of sugar. Smashed up the berries a bit, tried not to eat it all right then with a spoon, tossed the bowl in the fridge for another day or two. And then last night, as I was getting ready to turn it into boozy blackberry jam, remembered a bag of whole candied kumquats in my cupboard. Lightbulb.
Blackberry and orange is a relatively common combination, but the slight bitterness of the kumquats (and their teeny tiny cuteness) turned out to be a perfect match with the juicy, rich blackberries. I can’t wait to use this on a cheese plate, or, frankly, just on a spoon.
Boozy Blackberry Kumquat Jam
Makes about 5 half-pint jars
If you don’t have brandy-infused blackberries just hanging around your kitchen, no worries. Adding some brandy to the nearly finished jam will add flavor without having to wait a few weeks.
3 pounds of blackberries
1 heaping cup (about 8 ounces) sugar
1 heaping cup whole candied kumquats
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup brandy
If water-bath canning, prepare a pot of boiling water, and have jars and lids handy.
Combine the blackberries, sugar, and kumquats in a bowl. Lightly mash the berries so they release some of their juice. Cook immediately, or refrigerate up to 3 days.
In a large, wide pot, add the blackberry-kumquat mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the jam begins to thicken and the kumquats start to soften. Turn the heat down to low.
If you don’t want too many blackberry seeds, scoop out about half of berries into a mesh strainer or food mill set over a bowl. Press the blackberries through the strainer and discard the seeds; add the puree back to the pot.
Pick the kumquats out of the pot (they should be pretty easy to spot) and chop them (I cut half into thin slices and chopped the rest into small pieces). Add them back to the pot, along with the brandy and lemon juice.
Continue cooking the jam until it’s thick and coats the back of spoon. You may also start to hear the jam sizzle when you stir. Taste, add a bit more lemon juice or brandy if needed, and that’s it.
For canning, ladle jam into jars (I like 4 ounce jars) leaving 1/4 headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.