beautyberry1Got up way too early this morning to go deer hunting after spending quite a bit of time getting ready to hunt the night before…and well, rain, drizzle, nothing was moving not even a squirrel and then my new neighbor got in on the act around 11 am with his AR-15…enough said, maybe I will head back out towards dusk just to see what’s up, but YAWNNN…

So…what to do? What to do? No fun being damp, standing around waiting for the mythical deer to appear at this point, even they have enough sense to stay put on this dreary day. Back home looking at the laundry and wondering what to eat and lo and behold, there is the bag of Beautyberries that have been collected over the past couple of weeks. My person, had originally collected a bit while I was taking my hunter safety course couple weekends ago and my mother and I collected another 2 lbs when I went out to collect the trail cam.

When it comes down to it, if its FREE its for me 🙂

These purple beauty berries have been hanging out just waiting on me to get around to making jam with them and so, with little else that I really want to do (funny how rainy days make you feel that way!) I set out to make American Purple Beautyberry Jelly. Not difficult at all really unless of course your syrup pot full of sugar boils over (lesson learned…always use a pot twice the size you think you will need when making any jam!).

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Purple Beautyberry Jelly
What you will need:

LOTS of Beautyberries!!
Sugar
Liquid Pectin (this is important, the dry pectin doesn’t produce a good finished product)
Pint Mason Jars
Towels
Pots, Water Bath Canner
Measuring cup
Wooden spoons
Strainer

To begin with, make sure you wash/sterilize your mason jars (I just use the dish water on a light wash, high heat/dry cycle, takes about 1 hr to complete). Also, at the same time get your Water Bath Canner full of water and get it boiling…this too will take about an hour. Then get your mason jar lids and rings into a separate pot and start them on a slow heat up process. You will need to do all of this at LEAST an hour before you start making your jelly…very important!

I borrowed and adapted this recipe from the Eat The Weeds website and it makes approximately 5 pints of Jelly. The website has a lot of good information on how to identify the correct Beautyberry and some other interesting information on this natural DEET plant (crushed up leaves rubbed on your skin is just as effective as DEET apparently for mosquitoes, ticks and fire ants).

American Beautyberry Jelly

1 ½ qts. of American Beautyberries (about 1 lb)
washed and free from stems, leaves and other debris.
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2 qts water in large pan/pot
Combine and bring to a roiling boil for 20 minutes.
Strain to make an infusion…after boiling and straining it will look like this…
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I just put the used berries into the compost pile.

Next, using 3 cups of the infusion (the purple looking liquid/juice), bring to a boil and add 1 envelope of liquid pectin, stir and then add 4 ½ cups of sugar stirring well to make sure all sugar is dissolved. At this time turn up the heat on your lids and rings to get them to a slow roiling boil.

Bring mixture to a second boil for 2 minutes only…this is where it gets fun…boiling sugar likes to really BOIL and I spent about ½ hour cleaning up a nice sugary mess on the stove and floor as I didn’t move fast enough to get it off the heat.

Best practice is as soon as it starts to boil remove from heat…that will give you 2 minutes of boiling without it boiling over. Allow this to cool until a thin foamy cover is formed (wonderful pinkish/purple foam that you will scrape off and best part, you can eat that right away).

While this is mixture is cooling set up your jars on a large towel, turn the heat up on your water bath to get it almost to a boil.

Next, after scraping off the foam (and eating it, after all the work you deserve the sugar!) pour your liquid jelly into your glass mason jars. I like to leave ¼ inch head space when making jams and jellys. (By the way, Ball now makes a WONDERFUL funnel that not only helps to the lip of the jar clean but has ‘head space’ markings…found it at Walmart).
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I personally fill 2 or 3 jars, being careful to wipe the lip of the jar with a hot rag before placing the hot lid and then hand tightening the ring down. The new funnel REALLY made a huge difference in how much ‘clean’ up I had to do on the jars, almost NONE.

Having filled all jars and capping them, carefully place all jars into the canning bath basket (if you have one, if not, be sure you have placed something on the bottom of the large pot to keep the glass jar bottoms from touching the metal). Get back to a roiling boil, place lid on top and boil for 5 minutes. Take the water canner/pot off the heat and then take off the lid. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before carefully removing the mason jars. As you remove the mason jars, place on a doubled over towel in an out of the way place, being sure they are not touching and then cover with another towel to allow them to slowly cool for the next 24 hrs. You will hear pinging and such as they seal themselves, this is normal.

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After 24 hrs come back and make sure they have sealed. You do this simply by pushing down on the lid and as long as you have no give, you now have a shelf stable jelly ready to eat whenever ever you want!

Good luck, happy hunting and good, sweet eating!


Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile

IDENTIFICATION: A small, deciduous shrubs 1 to 2 m in height, leaves opposite, elliptical to ovate, large, with saw-toothed edges. Flowers cluster around stem, funnel-shaped with four clefs. Fruit magenta 2 to 4 seeds, White fruited ones are an escaped cultivar and edibility is unknown.
TIME OF YEAR: Spring and fall in Florida, late summer to fall in northern climes
ENVIRONMENT: Dry,open woods, moist woods, thickets and hammocks, adapted to climates with hot, humid summers and moderate winters
METHOD OF PREPARATION: A few berries can be eaten raw, depending upon your agreeing with the flavor, otherwise makes a great jelly. The berries can be used to make a tea with antioxidants.
HERB BLURB
Native American Indians used the roots and leaves to make a tea to treat fever, dysentery, malaria and rheumatism
The above is also taken from Eattheweeds.com

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