I'm really enjoying this "make one cup of jelly at a time" thing (read the first installment of The Lazy Girl's Guide to Jelly Making). I've discovered that, despite one's love for sour cherries, choosing a fruit which has a high pectin content actually makes for a more satisfying end product. It saves all of that having to deal with pectin nonsense. From this past week's farm market purchases, I made this lovely deep, dark jelly. In about half an hour. Go Lisa! I think I've already eaten about a third of it.
Again, I can't guarantee this will work with all sorts of fruits, but most berries have a naturally high pectin content, which means you will almost always have a pleasing outcome, and who doesn't love that? Blueberries are especially high in pectin, so pretty much anytime you add them, you will have a nice turn out. Blueberries have so much pectin, in fact, that you can make a dessert sauce out of them with nothing but sugar, and it will stand up on its own, no corn starch or anything required. Just put them in a bowl and toss with sugar. Stir and let sit for a half hour or so. Press through a fine mesh sieve. In about half an hour, the juice will have congealed. Easy Peasy!
But we're here to discuss this dark berry jelly - isn't it pretty? Place one pint of blueberries and one pint of blackberries in a medium saucepan, sprinkle with about 2 tbsp sugar, and add about 2 tbsp water. Throw in half a lemon, just for good measure (and a little acidity). Heat over low heat, mashing with a potato masher, for about 15 minutes, or until all of the fruit is crushed. Pour into a fine mesh strainer (again, I like to place my chinois stand over a one-liter measuring bowl) and allow the juices to strain out for about an hour. You can stir to encourage the juices, but be aware that pressing on the pulp might lead to cloudy jelly. After all of the juice has been extracted, measure it. I had about 12 ounces. Return it to the sauce pan.
Measure out your desired amount of sugar. I have to confess I don't like my jelly very sweet, which is why making it for myself in these little batches is perfect. I used about 1/3 the amount of sugar to the amount of juice (4 ounces of sugar to 12 ounces juice). Add the sugar in, along with the juice of the other half of the lemon. Simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring and skimming frequently. Place in a hot sterilized jar, allow to cool for 12 hours at room temperature, and then refrigerate. This sort of non-processed jelly will last about 3 weeks in the fridge.