- Fruit of choice…such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, peach,
- 1Tbsp lemon juice
- large pinch salt
- 2-1/4C sugar
- 1 box (1-3/4oz SURE-JELL
- 3/4C water
Preparing the Fruit
When buying your fruit, make sure to buy only firm, perfectly ripe fruit. Only the best fruit will give you the best flavor and consistency.
First wash the fruit and remove any stems or peels.
Pick through berries, discarding any soft or rotten ones.
Chop the fruit into large chunks if you feel like you need to…obviously raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries can all remain whole.
Mash the fruit, using a potato masher or fork. How much you smoosh the fruit will depend on just how chunky you want your jam to be.
Add sugar to the crushed fruit.
Let sit for at least ten minutes, while you are making the topping…stirring occasionally.
Making Your Base
First place a couple metal spoons in the freezer…(you’ll see why a little later)…
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Let boil for 1min.
Let the jam cook for about twenty minutes.
Use a candy thermometer to see if your jam has cooked long enough or not. Cook until the thermometer reads 220ºF.
If adding any fresh herbs—such as basil, mint, or thyme—to your jam, add them during the last few minutes of the cooking process so that they retain their bright flavor.
Remove saucepan from heat.
Don’t expect your finished jam to be as firm as traditionally processed jam…this will actually make the jam easier to spread onto your toast, biscuits, or whatever.
****************** Sterilizing the Jars While you are waiting for your jam to finish cooking, take the time to sterilize your jars. To do this, thoroughly wash these jars, their lids and their screw bands….then put them into a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 15min. Turn off the heat. Leave the jars, lids, and bands in the hot water until ready to use. ************* Filling Your Jars Use tongs to lift the jars, lids, and screw bands from the water, Dry them thoroughly. Ladle the hot jam carefully into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ space between the jam and the top of the jar. Screw the lids on the tops of the jars tightly. Wipe any jam from the rims of the jars with a wet paper towel. Let the jars set out on the counter at room temperature overnight. The jam will stay good in the fridge for up to three weeks….or in the freezer for up to one year. If you freeze it, let it thaw out in your refrigerator before using.f
Sterilizing the Jars
While you are waiting for your jam to finish cooking, take the time to sterilize your jars.
To do this, thoroughly wash these jars, their lids and their screw bands….then put them into a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 15min.
Turn off the heat. Leave the jars, lids, and bands in the hot water until ready to use.
Filling Your Jars
Use tongs to lift the jars, lids, and screw bands from the water, Dry them thoroughly.
Ladle the hot jam carefully into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ space between the jam and the top of the jar.
Screw the lids on the tops of the jars tightly.
Wipe any jam from the rims of the jars with a wet paper towel.
Let the jars set out on the counter at room temperature overnight.
The jam will stay good in the fridge for up to three weeks….or in the freezer for up to one year. If you freeze it, let it thaw out in your refrigerator before using.f
Shopping for Blackberries
When shopping for blackberries, remember that the blacker the color, the riper and sweeter the blackberry will be.
The perfect blackberry has a “deep”-flavored and is very juicy.
Blackberries are highly perishable and delicate. They can turn soft, mushy, and moldy within 24 hours after bringing them home from the store, so you will want to either use them that same day or freeze them.
Once you do bring them home, check for any soft, overripe berries…as well as any squished or moldy berries. Gently blot the berries that you’re keeping with a paper towel and place them in a covered container in your fridge.
Do not wash the berries until you’re fixing to…_(yeah, I am from the Deep South)…to either eat them or cook with them.
To freeze blackberries…which is honestly the best way to use them to make smoothies…flash freeze them by first arranging the blackberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then put the cookie sheet with the berries into the freezer. Freeze them until they are solidly frozen. Then put them to an airtight container or Ziploc bag, label, and date…..yeah, I do know that you can also buy prepackaged frozen berries, but we’re trying to avoid processed foods, remember?)
Blackberries have been used to make wines and cordials as far back as 1696..so they must taste pretty darn good, right?.
And of course you could eat the blackberries that you have bought all by themselves, but why stop there, when you could use your blackberries to make great desserts such as cobbler, jelly, and smoothies.
Blackberries have been used by many different ethnic groups of people for many different purposes….at least since the time of the ancient Greeks.
Blackberry tea made from the leaves, roots, and bark was used to treat oral problems, such as bleeding gums, canker sores, sore throats, anf mouth ulcers.
The roots have astringent properties that have been used to treat digestivce problems—such as diarrhea and stomach ulcers.
Blackberries have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.
So let’s first look at the nutritional value in half a cup of blackberries.
A half cup serving of blackberries roughly contains about 430 calories.
This same half cup also contains about half of a gram of fat, zero cholesterol, a miligram of sodium, about ten grams of carbohydrates.
Blackberries contain significant amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber…actually five grams of dietary fiber, or 25% RDV. Blackberries are also a good source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.
As far as vitamins, this same half cup of blueberries contains…
- Vitamin A…214 IU
- Vitamin B1…thiamine…2%…0.020 mg
- Vitamin B2…riboflavin…2%…0.026 mg
- Vitamin B3…niacin…4%…0.646 mg
- Vitamin B6…2%…0.030 mg
- Vitamin B9…folate…6%…25 μg
- Vitamin C…25%…21.0 mg…It has been documented that as far back as 1771 to treat scurvy.
- Vitamin E…8%…1.17 mg
- Vitamin K…19%…19.8 μg
In addition to these vitamins, blackberries also contain many minerals that we need, such as…
- Calcium…3%…29 mg
- Iron…5%…0.62 mg
- Magnesium…6%…20 mg
- Phosphorus…3%…22 mg
- Potassium…3%…162 mg
- Sodium…0%…1 mg
- Zinc…6%…0.53 mg
But out main concern right now is antioxidants…and how we can get the most antioxidants into our daily diet…
And before you start adding antioxidants to your diet, you must first know what antioxidants are…
Another good option when targetting your smoothie to be most effective for its antioxidant purposes is the blackberry.
This soft, plump, sweet, and juicy fruit is commonly found in Europe from June until November, but are now also grown commercially in the United States.
They also grow wild in forests and hedgerows across most of North America…where they can be found as thorny bushes or trailing vines, known as brambles. These brambles have many very sharp prickles or thorns that can easily tear through your clothes, even through denim, with ease and make the plant very difficult to navigate around. These sharp, thick thorns help protect wild blackberries from large animals.
Blackberries are considered an “aggregate fruit” because each single blackberry, as we usually think of as blackberries, is not an actual fruit in itself. Instead what we think of whenever we think about blackberries is actually a cluster of about twenty-five tiny fruits called druplets. each having its own seed.
One of my goals while writing this blog has been to slowly crawl up the Raw Foods Pyramid, looking at one option at a time…seeing how each ingredient can be added to the diet of my newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic.
So, since we are now on the topic of fruits and vegetables…leafy greens…smoothies…smoothie purposes…antioxidants…(progression of my outline if that makes sense to anyone else out there)…
Today we are going to talk about beets.
Beets—in the same “family” as sweet potatoes and carrots, are a root vegetable used in many cuisines around the world.
Beets are a superfood that is packed with nutrition—including vitamins, minerals
Let’s take a look at some of its medicinal properties.
- Calories: 44,,,Beets are low in calories
- Protein: 1.7 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams…Beets are low in fat.
- Fiber: 2 grams…Fiber has many health benefits—such as improving digestion, keeping you “regular,” and prevent digestive conditions—such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis
- Now let’s take a look at what beets have to offer as far as vitamins and minerals,
- Folate: 20% of the RDI
- Iron: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
- Manganese: 16% of the RDI
- Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI
- Potassium: 9% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI
In addition, beets also offer many nitrates and pigments that are beneficial.
Betalains, a pigment found i beets, have may anti-inflammatory properties and can refuce pain and discomfort caused by this.
Nitrates dilate blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop.
THE WHY ELSE?!
Some of the benefits that beets offer as far as health include…
1. Anti-inflammatory...As mentioned earlier, beets contain the pigment called betalains which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent inclulding obesity, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer.
2. Cancer…Beets contain the antioxidants that are needed to help reduce the division and growth of cancer cells.
3. Enhanced athletic performance…The nitrates found in beets improve the efficiency of the mitochondria found within each and every cell that are responsible for producing energy in your cells.
4. Heart...Beets contain nitrates—which have been shown to help reduce your risk of heart problems—such as heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.
5. High blood pressure...Eating beets can lower your blood pressure anywhere from 4 to 10 mmHg over a period of only a few hours.
6.Mental.cognitive decline associated with aging.…The nitrates found in beets help maintain the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain…which in turn helps you maintain the health of the brain associated with decision making and memory.
7. Weight Loss…Because beets are a low-calorie food with a high water and a high protein content, beets may help you lose weight by reducing your appetite and making you feet full longer. Beets also contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber, both important nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.