Blackberry whiskey jam adds an Irish twist to a classic fruit jam. This spread is so good on Irish tea scones, or simply spread on toast.
If you’re looking for recipes for fall fruits and vegetables then look no further. This Irish whiskey jam recipe is the one for you.
If you live in Kentucky or the south, then feel free to make it a blackberry bourbon jam. Either spirit works great.
The extra depth of flavor added by the whiskey gives this Irish whiskey blackberry jam an extra kick. You can use Scotch whisky or Irish whiskey - just choose a whiskey or bourbon you like.
It’s delicious served on crackers with a creamy cheese like brie. Fruit jams and brie go so well together.
When blackberries are in season, this is the jam to make. It’s delicious, made with fresh berries, and it’s quick and easy to cook. This is the perfect fall fruit jam.
Blackberries in Ireland
Blackberries in Ireland are in season from August through September. Do you have memories of picking blackberries during the late summer?
I remember picking them with my granny in Cork. She had a good eye for sweet plump blackberries, perfect for apple and blackberry tarts or good old jam.
You’ll find delicious blackberry jams for sale in farmers markets all over Ireland during autumn.
Adding alcohol to jam, especially whiskey, is a favorite way to preserve jams in Ireland.
Using Frozen Blackberries for Jam
If there are no fresh blackberries available then this homemade jam recipe can be made with frozen fruit.
However, it’s important to note that the cooking time will be longer when using frozen berries.
Also it may not set as well and a little extra lemon zest may help it to come together better and improve the consistency.
Whiskey in Jam - A Taste of Ireland
The recipe I am sharing with you today makes two 8- ounce sized jars of delicious jam.
If you’re going to use the jam straight away, there’s no need to use sterilized jars for storing the spread. However, I included some directions for sterilizing your jars if you plan to store the jam for some time.
If you have a huge harvest of blackberries, then this jam is perfect for canning and storing for the winter. The addition of whiskey or bourbon also helps it to store well.
There’s only a small amount of whiskey used to make this jam. Because the spirits are cooked with the berries in a saucepan, most of the alcohol burns away.
No need to worry about having this jam for breakfast. You won’t feel a thing - no adverse affects. Only miniscule amounts of alcohol remain. Simply enjoy the extra flavor dimension Irish whiskey adds to the jam with no worries.
What is the difference between jam, jelly and preserves?
Jam, jelly, and preserves are all made with a combination of fruit, sugar, and heat. In order to firm up and consolidate the mixture, pectin or lemon is used.
Pectin is a natural fiber found in most plants that when cooked with sugar and fruit helps to firm up the concoction.
Sometimes, powdered pectin is added when cooking jam in order to thicken the mixture. The need for pectin is dependent on how acidic the fruit for the jam might be. Lemon juice and zest also work great for thickening jams. Additional pectin is usually needed for jellies.
In Ireland we tend to make and buy jam rather than jelly or preserves. But what is the underlying difference between these three spreadable delicacies?
The key to naming your jar of fruity sweetness lies in how much of the actual fruit is used in the final product and what consistency the fruit holds after cooking.
What is Jelly?
First, let’s take a look at jelly. It’s the firmest of these sweet spreads and it’s always very smooth with no fruity lumps. It’s made using fruit juice rather than actual textured fruits.
To make the juice, fruit is usually cooked, mashed and crushed completely before straining. The juice is collected and combined with sugar, pectin and sometimes additional acid to create a gel.
Cranberry sauce served from a can is really a cranberry jelly, and not a sauce at all.
What is Jam?
Jam is what is made most frequently in Ireland. It’s made from chopped or mashed fruit that is not strained for its juice.
All of the fruit is used, then cooked down with sugar, lemon juice or pectin to create a delicious textured spread.
What are preserves?
Next, we come to preserves, the most textured of all three spreads. The fruit is often kept whole during the cooking process.
Marmalade is actually a preserve. It contains chopped up citrus rinds, together with the chopped up inner fruit. Coarse cut marmalade contains bigger pieces of citrus rind.
Pectin is found in the rind of citrus fruit, helping to set the preserves.
If you want to make blackberry preserves using this recipe, then don’t mash the fruit before simmering it with the sugar and other ingredients. I would also omit the step where I set the fruit aside to be broken down by the whiskey and sugar before cooking.
By taking these steps you’ll quite literally preserve the larger pieces of fruit for your blackberry preserves. But if like me, you grew up on Irish jam, then mash that fruit to make a delicious jam.
Chutney and Compote
There are two other spreads worth an honorable mention.
Compote is also made with fresh whole or dried fruits. It too involves cooking with added sugar, but the end result is more sauce than jam. Also, compote is seldom jarred or stored over time, but is usually served right when it is made.
And finally, there’s chutney which is technically a type of savory and sweet Indian jam. No pectin is used to make chutney. Usually fruit is combined with spices and vinegar then cooked low and slow to create a delicious condiment.
How To Know When Jam Is Ready
The best way to know when jam is ready is to do the jam test.
When your jam starts to thicken, place a small spoon of jam on a cold plate. Let it cool slightly, then move it with the tip of a cold spoon. If it wrinkles it’s ready.
My granny made jam just like this for years, before the days of refrigeration. She simply took a plate off the kitchen dresser to do this test.
Nowadays you can cool the plate in the fridge for about 30 minutes before you make the jam, and then you’ll be all ready to go with a cool plate for your jam test.
Why do you add lemon juice and zest to blackberry jam?
I like to use lemon juice and zest for jam. Both contribute to the jam thickening process.
Lemon zest helps the jam to set. There’s pectin in citrus rind. This is a powdered pectin free jam, since we only use the naturally occurring pectin from the citrus zest to thicken the jam.
The lemon juice adds flavor and acid to the jam, and also helps the mixture to thicken.
Now, it’s good to remember that your jam will continue to thicken as it cools.
So don’t overcook your jam. Complete the jam test and once it’s starting to thicken take it off the heat.
It will still be a little runny when you turn off the burner but it will continue to thicken as it sets in the jar.
Ingredients Blackberry Whiskey Jam
Here's a quick list of what you'll need. There's a recipe card which you can save and print at the end of this post and you'll find exact quantities requried there.
- fresh blackberries
- Irish whiskey or bourbon
- vanilla extract
- lemon zest
- lemon juice
I love the flavor vanilla extract adds to this jam. This is a non traditional Irish ingredient, so omit it if you wish to be a purist and stick to a traditional flavor profile.
However, I love the combination of vanilla extract with whiskey. It just takes this jam to the next level of deliciousness.
The smoothness of real vanilla pairs magically with Irish whiskey.
Technically this is a jam without pectin. You’ll notice there’s no added powdered pectin in the ingredient list.
However, the zest of the lemon is adding natural pectin as a thickening agent for the cooked fruit.
Directions for Making Blackberry Jam
Place the washed blackberries in a medium sized sauce pan.
Use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to smush the blackberries a bit to help break them open.
Next add in the bourbon, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar.
Allow this mixture to rest for about 30 minutes before starting the cooking process.
Turn the burner on to medium-high heat.
Stir as the mixture cooks over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble.
Turn the heat to low and let the jam simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the desired thickness or consistency is achieved.
If you like thick jam, then boil for an extra 5 minutes.
Canning and Storing Blackberry Jam
If you plan to use this jam immediately, there's no need to sterilize your storage jars. You can simply let it cool and spoon it into jam jars or mason jars. In fact any container with a lid will work.
Refrigerate any remaining jam. It will store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.
However, if you plan to store this jam to consume it over the winter months, then you will need to sterilize the jars before adding the jam for storage.
Here's a quick tutorial on how to do this, or if you would like to learn more you can check out my indepth post about different methods for sterilizing jars.
I know many cooks in America purchase fancy canning equipment, but I simply use heat proof mason jars. My granny had no fancy tools and she made the best jams ever.
- Fill a pot of water and place 2 (8 oz) jelly jars in the water with the lids making sure the jars are completely submerged.
- Bring the water to a boil and leave the jars in there for about 10 minutes.
- Use a pair of tongs to carefully remove the hot jars and lids from the water bath.
- Spoon the hot jam mixture into the jars. Wipe the jars to remove any liquid or jam on the sides.
- Place the lids and seals and screw on the top.
- Use tongs to carefully place the jars back into the boiling water for another 5 minutes.
- Carefully remove jars and set on a kitchen towel.
- As the jars seal properly, you will hear a popping noise.
- Store in a cool, dark place for 6 months to a year.
Once the seal is tight, the jam should be just fine for quite a long period of time. It can last upto 18 months if stored in the right conditions, but to be sure I would check it frequently after one year of storage.
Whiskey in the jam also prolongs its shelf life.
Free Recipe To Save and Print
If you would like to save this recipe for your kitchen files, you can save and print it here.
You can toggle the step-by-step photos on or off for printing, or you can choose between US and Metric ingredient quantities.
Blackberry Whiskey Jam
- 1½ pounds blackberries about 5-6 cups fresh berries
- 3 tablespoons whiskey
- 1 lemon zested plus1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pre wash the blackberries and place them in a medium sized saucepan.
- Use a potato masher to smush the blackberries and break them open.
- Add the whiskey, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar to the pot. Stir to combine completely. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until desired thickness. For a thicker consistency, simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
- If consuming immediately and not canning the jam, then let it cool completely before spooning it into jars or containers of choice. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. If canning the jam for prolonged storage, spoon the hot jam mixture into hot sterilized jars and process in hot water to seal the lids of the jars.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Happy jam making.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)