This summer I had the opportunity to head south to Corvallis and visit my sister – yes we love to visit, the kids love to visit – but I wanted to learn from her how she made and canned her Marionberry Pie filling. I got a jar from her last year and it was delicious to say the least, it was clear not milky white and a perfect consistency. I wanted more, my own this year.
I had some idea that it was some highly complex and complicated process, there would be lots of notes to take, facts and figures to memorize. Boy was I wrong. Talk about easy – this was the epitome of easy canning – just my style. We lived in a canning household as kids – each summer there was tons of canning, all kinds and such a fevered pitch to it as though our lives depended on it, and I suspect it probably was for my parents budget with 8 kids. I didn’t appreciate that at the time I guess. But every canning project required so much work from picking sufficient quantities to feed an army, the boiling water on the hot hot days, peeling or scalding and slipping skins, slicing and dicing to get it all right. I like to can today, but I am selective on what I do. There is a financial equation as well, sometimes a good sale on peaches is as good as the cost of materials, time and energy of canning my own.
But back to blackberry pie filling and welcome to the new millennium with great farmers markets that bring the produce to me – ready picked and fantastic products like clear-Jel A – a modified food starch. The process that my sister laid out was as easy as water (or juice), clear-jel, sugar in appropriate quantities, brought to a boil, add my significant quantities of fruit, voila – almost done. Ladle them into jars, apply lids and rings, waterbath process for 30 min. and you have Pie Filling. I was able to get about 24 jars of Marionberry and Razzleberry (marion and raspeberry mix) in our first teaching session. I only had 3 jars not seal – found out too late and had to toss them, bummer. But gave about 9 jars out to friends and family that we visited on the road so far this summer – they are great gifts. So I was feeling selfish and wishing I had some more on hand. But where would I find Marionberries? Enter the Farmers Market in Hillsboro! I got a full flat (6 quarts) of blackberries last weekend and put up about 10 jars of blackberry pie filling – Awesomeness ! I just love to look at the jars and can’t wait to dig into them this winter! My next try will be the clear-jel A and apples for apple pie filling, I need to get busy!