Summer is still here, and it is still HOT. What could be better than a glass of lemonade to beat the heat? As we approach the last few weeks of summer, preparations for the change of seasons begin. Youth and adults navigate the start of a new school year, retail stores reset for upcoming holidays, and small and large farmers transition into fall crops, winding down harvest of summer produce like tomatoes, corn, and blackberries, making them harder to find at local markets.
But, we are in luck! According to Bruce McClean, Clemson Extension Horticulture and Small Fruits agent, “…blackberries are about finished, except for a few regional growers “ , like McCall Farms “…who planted the primocane variety. Those will be available through the end of the summer into the fall.” Last year, I was able to get blackberries from local farmstands and the Pee Dee State Farmers Market in Florence through October, and I’m hoping to do the same this year. (Certified SC Grown) But, what are you going to do with those berries once you get them home? Of course, washing and eating them fresh is always a treat. There are also a variety of ways to use, preserve and extend the berry harvest allowing one to enjoy seasonal produce for weeks and months to come.
How great would it be to top a biscuit with blackberry jam, pull out freshly frozen berries in February and make a pie or cobbler, or pour a refreshing glass of blackberry limeade using the recipe below, knowing exactly what is in it because you made it yourself? (if canning is not an option for you, this recipe can also be made and served immediately or stored frozen in freezer-safe containers)
Always start with clean hands and surfaces, equipment, utensils, and wash berries prior to blending.
Blackberry Limeade Concentrate (adapted from: www.freshpreserving.com)
- 6 cups blackberries,
- 4 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (or bottled)
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- 7 (16 oz) pint jars
- Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.
- Puree berries in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade, working in batches, until smooth. Transfer to a large stainless-steel saucepan as completed.
- Add lime juice and sugar to the berry puree, stirring to combine. Heat to 190° F over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
- Ladle hot concentrate into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water or steam canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
- Process jars in a boiling water or steam canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
- Recommended options for serving: reconstitute and mix one part concentrate with three parts mixer using your favorite water, juice, sparkling water, carbonated beverage, or spirit. Herbs like fresh mint, basil, or lavender can be muddled and incorporated for additional flavor varieties. Adjust concentrate ratio to suit your taste.
If this sounds like something you would like to make, but aren’t sure where to start, Clemson Extension is here to help. We have a variety of home food preservation resources available on the Home and Garden Information Center website as well as the Carolina Canning Facebook page. In addition to web-based resources, Chase Baillie and other agents across the state from the Clemson Extension Food Systems and Safety Team offer classes, outreach, and support throughout the year to the public related to Food Systems, Safety, and Preservation. For more information about upcoming programs, stay tuned to our events page at https://www.clemson.edu/food.
If you decide to beat the heat and try this recipe, we would love to know! Stay cool and hydrated, and share your experience with us on social media using the hashtag #carolinacanning.