recipe: black salal berry jam

thought i would share this wild berry recipe here for those who are interested in partaking of the season.

1) it’s august. go swimming for the afternoon somewhere the waters run crystal clear through the forest. with friends, or alone, it doesn’t really matter – but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to sun on the rocks afterwards. once you have baked the clean water into your skin and are ready to head back out on the trail, stop for a few minutes to pick 2 or three cups of salal berries and put them in a small container (with stems, this will fill up a nalgene bottle). eat a few to remind yourself that contrary to popular opinion, these fruits aren’t poisonous and actually quite subtle and tasty. when you get home, throw open the doors and air out the house while you rinse and sort the berries.

2) find a blackberry patch not to far away from where you live. preferably one that is not too close to a highway, train track or busy road as there is a high-likelihood these plants will have been sprayed with poisons. be careful of the thorns while you pick 3-4 cups of these tempting beauties and spirit them back to your home. as above, rinse the berries and sort out any stems and other little bits of wild nature that have hitchhiked in the berry bowl.

3) go next door to your neighbour’s house. knock on the door and introduce yourself since you are new to the neighbourhood and this is as good a time to meet people as any. ask if you can have 2 of the small green apples growing on their tree. tart green apples make a great natural source of pectin (as do salal berries). explain this to your new acquaintances and promise them a jar of jam in trade if this experiment in wild-jam making works out.

4) wait until the house is a bit cool, or open up the doors as making jam can get warm. get the boiling water canner ready and dig out the canning jars ready to go from last year’s jam-making. prepare the jars by bathing them in the boiling water for 10 minutes and the seals for 5 minutes. while you are doing this, crush one layer of berries at a time in a saucepan with a potato masher or like-device. once you have a nice jammish consistency going, turn the heat on to medium and add the apples (cut up into little pieces). cook until everything boils and the apples get mushy. add sugar to taste and 1/2 a cup to 1 cup of water. don’t add too much sugar as it will drown out the subtle tastes of the berries and they have enough natural sugar to preserve without a ton of additional sugars. boil some more until the jam gets stiff (if you are nervous about the jam not setting – if it appears a bit too thin – add a bit of pectin but you probably don’t need it).

5) once the jam is ready and cooked through (and the right amount of sweet or tart) pour it into the prepared jars. this recipe fills about 5 250-ml jars. bathe them in the boiling water canner with the lids on tight for another 10 minutes and then pull them out to cool for a half a day or so.

6) once you have determined the jam to be the goodness it is, commence giving a jar to your neighbours and to the friend(s) who helped you pick the berries. you should be left with a couple of jars for yourself to go in the winter-larder as well as a small dish of jam for using right now. later, when there are no berries left on the bushes, you will be glad for this small taste of summer wild.

15 Comments on “recipe: black salal berry jam

  1. perfect timing – thanks! my mom & i just went blackberry picking a couple of days ago. she was excited to be introduced to salal, so also picked a container of them planning on experimenting with them. and then you post this… unfortunately we had skipped the part of swimming in crystal clear water in the forest – sigh – but i’ll add it to my to do soon list, for sure!

  2. i would actually like to make a batch of just salal-berry jam. my mom used to make that when i was a kid…. but i didn’t have enough to make a decent amount of jam without the blackberries outside my front door…. i am thinking of still getting more salal berries to make a batch of just salal-jam if i have time before i go away (though i strongly doubt that will happen unfortunately)…. i could not find a single recipe for salal-berry jam on the internet when i googled salal berries over the weekend – odd for such a prolific plant!

  3. Check out The Jamlady Cookbook ($35 Pelican Publishing) for jam and preserves recipes of unusual fruits.

  4. Hi RedCedar,

    I just did a google for Salal recipies, and your blog came up first… cool cause I met you once on Commercial Drive, and I am a friend of Petes (aka Anarcho-cyclist).
    I have some salal berries in my fridge that i picked the other day… i am hungry and i was looking for ways to feed myself deliciously.
    I’ll report back if i figure out something yummy.

    Thanks for being you!

  5. one more thing to add to this thread – on this site at nature’s garden are a lot of recipes involving western canadian wild plants. i just found it today – there are lots of good ideas here.

  6. I’m so excited to finally find a recipe for salal jam. I live on a lighthouse on the BC coast and have salal and blackberries out my back door. Can hardly wait to have toast and jam while watching the sunrise or sunset !

  7. Absolutely love the way the recipe is written – made me chuckle in a smug, self-satisfied way as I have all the ingredients on my gulf island property (except the stream) and I will trade the jam for my neighbour’s blackberry wine-to-be. Ain’t life grand!

  8. The Ball Canning Blue Book (they make lids) has a berry recipe that works well with Salal berries. I just made a batch using 9 cups of frozen Salal berries (I pick and freeze them on a tray and bag them till I have enough), and 6 cups of sugar.

    You pound the frozen berries to just break them open leaving about 1/3rd of them almost intact so they will remain whole and be chewy and very tasty in the jam. You add water to the berries to just shy of covering them, and add the sugar, and bring the mixture of berries, sugar and water to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula, then reduce the heat so they just bubble. You then simmer the mixture for 15 to 25 or 30 minutes stirring constantly works for me. You can add a teaspoon of butter or margarine so they don’t foam up. I like to use a candy thermometer to measure the jam to 200 Degrees before I stop the cooking.

    Have your jars, and lids ready in simmering water. Pour in the jam immediately to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Clean the sealing edge thoroughly with a wetted rag. Put on the lids and screw down the bands finger tight immediately. They will seal lightly when cooled, but may not keep for very long this way. They say maybe 2 or 3 months in a refer! Makes about 3 pints of delicious exotic jam—try on waffles with whipped cream! Fit for a King!

    To keep longer on your shelf, process the covered jars immediately in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes in a canner. They will seal tight and keep for some years this way!

    PS Try Asian Fig Jam! WOW

  9. So tickled to read about other people interested in our wild berries. I made a salal “sauce” last year because I did not add any other fruit, but did add a package of pectin. It was abso delish and makes a superb sauce for chicken or pork with some additions of course…a little wine and some herbs of your choice. I am now looking for recipes for the salmon berries – I also made a “sauce” from them last summer and it was delicious over salmon. I’m sure with the addition of a couple of lemons or oranges, it would set up nicer into jam. My only other success, so far, is rose-marmy; it is a combo of my yellow (Peace) roses and 2 oranges; makes the loveliest jam! Good hunting people! Marci

  10. I found this on the net


    Salal Berry Jam
    About three ½-pint jars

    – 12 cups salal berries, cleaned
    – ¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    – 1 to 4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

    1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook berries until soft. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to extract all the juice.

    2. Return berry juice to the saucepan over medium heat, add lemon juice and sugar to taste and cook until sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.

    3. To can the jam, sterilize ½-pint jars and lids 10 minutes. Fill with hot jam, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth, place lids on and screw them down tight. Place in a boiling water-bath canner with water covering jars by about 2 inches; process 5 minutes. (Begin timing when water returns to boil.) If you do not wish to can the jam, store in the refrigerator.

    Notes: Though the berries are strained to extract the juice, this resembles jam more than jelly. It is so dark it looks black, and it is delicious with freshly baked bread and butter. The amount of sugar in the recipe is very low because salal berries are packed with natural pectin, so sugar is not necessary for thickening. Add to taste for a sweeter jam.

    From Susan Herrmann Loomis.

    Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

  11. I’m sittin here in my Indiana kitchen on a stool as I type this. It’s about 10pm, & my boiling water bath canner is crammer full of jars of my yummy blackberry jam made with Clear Jel and with very little sugar. It is the most delish jam! I got the BB’s from my own backyard. I grow most of my own fruit from trees (peach, apple, pear, sour pie cherries,) and bushes (blueberries, red and black raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and Concord grapes. I also have a large veggie garden and a big patch of herbs. I’m very lucky-each year I gather over 50+ gallons of blackberries! I think they must love where I’ve planted them. I give away many baskets of goodies to my friends and neighbors filled with jams, jellies, marmalades, conserves, butters, curds, biscotti’s, fresh homebaked bread, and all kinds of other stuff. I also trade my canned goodies for things I can’t grow here. (if anyone has a supply of cranberry, apricot,tay or salal berry,or plum anything, I’d be open to discussing a trade:-) I really enjoyed reading the entries on this site. I’ve had a very good canning year. I try to fill each and everyone of the 800+ jars I own with some goodness. This year the harvest’s been so good I’ve had to go out and buy 5 more cases of jars!!! It’s tuff luck isn’t it? It’s so rewarding putting up food and feeding my family such yummy stuff!!! I learned a lot from my Grandmother Angelene. Good day to you all and happy canning!

  12. Found this post googling for Salal berry jammers – I already made mine, just a dash of lemon juice and some sugar but not much – as you said, they have a smoky earthy subtle taste that does not need messin’ with. I’m imagining this on a pork chop or chic breast as opposed to on a sweet biscuit although that’d be good too! Great blog and thanks so much. I enjoy your writing! Bonnie

  13. Salal Berry Recipes
    Following Recipes from: The Pacific Northwest Berry Book – Bob Krumm and James Krumm
    Boiled Salal Cake
    1 pound salal berries
    2 cups water
    ½ cup butter
    1 cup cold water
    ½ cup sugar
    4 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Simmer berries in 2 cups water for 10 minutes. Let mixture cool. Mix together butter and cold water. Add sugar. Beat in flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add cooled salal to mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.

    Sour Cream Icing:
    1 cup sour cream
    ¾ cup sugar
    ¾ cup brown sugar

    Combine and boil until soft stage. Let cool. Beat until creamy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Frost cooled cake.
    Pat Robinson, Port Hadlock, Washington

    Salal-Bitter Cherry Jelly
    2 cups salal juice (from approximately 2 quarts berries)
    2 cups bitter cherry or chokecherry juice (from approximately 2 quarts berries)
    ¼ cup lemon juice
    1 package powdered pectin
    5 cups sugar

    Extract juice of the salal and cherries by washing them and then placing them in separate pots with 1 cup water for each quart of berries. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Place in a jelly bag and squeeze gently. Measure juice.

    Place cherry and salal juices in a 6 – 8 quart pot along with lemon juice and pectin. Stir until pectin is dissolved. Place over high heat and bring to a full, rolling boil. Add sugar and bring back to a full, rolling boil while stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, skim off foam, and pour into hot, sterilized jars. Place on lids and secure bands. Put in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

    Yield: eight 8-ounce jars.
    Pat Robinson, Port Hadlock, Washington

    Salal-Oregon Grape Jelly
    2 cups salal juice (from approximately 2 quarts berries)
    2 cups Oregon grape juice (from approximately 2 quarts grapes)
    ¼ cup lemon juice
    1 package powered pectin
    5 cups sugar

    Extract the juice from the salal berries and Oregon grapes. Pour the measured juiced into a large 6- or 8- quart pot. Add lemon juice and pectin. Stir until pectin is dissolved. Place over high heat and bring to a full, rolling boil. Add pre-measured sugar. Bring back to a full, rolling boil while stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim off foam and place into hot sterilized jelly jars. Place on lids and attach screw bands. Put in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

    Yield: eight 8 ounce jars.
    Pat Robinson, Port Hadlock, Washington

    Salal Jelly
    3 quarts salal berries
    2 cups water
    ½ cup lemon juice, divided
    1 package powered pectin
    6 cups sugar

    Clean and wash salal berries. Place in a 6- or 8- quart pot, add water and ¼ cup lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Extract juice by placing three layers of cheesecloth (or jelly bag) over a sieve or colander. Wrap up ends of cheesecloth. Press with spoon or potato masher.

    Measure 4 ½ cups salal juice into pot, add pectin and remaining ¼ cup lemon juice. Stir until dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar. Bring to a full, rolling boil while stirring constantly. Boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, skim, pour into hot sterilized jars and attach on lids and screw bands. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

    Yield: seven 8 ounce jars.
    Dot Heggie, Gillette, Wyoming

  14. Pingback: Salal – Updated | Erica Weiland

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