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Plump juicy blackberries have grown wild and been a delicious treat for centuries. They are found in the woods and along woodland edges, in hedgerows, along roadsides and on disturbed ground in the northeastern United States, west into Minnesota and in the south to Tennessee. Blackberries that are sold for cultivation are larger, sweeter cousins of the widespread wild blackberry. Blackberries tend to do better in the south since they are not as hardy as raspberries, Growing on upright or trailing, prickly shrubs they can get up to ten feet tall. Clusters of white flowers are followed by the sweet, juicy black fruits. These berries make delicious cobblers, jams and jellies.

Homemade blackberry jelly is a favorite of many since it is not only easy to make but provides a distinct flavor. To make blackberry jelly you will need 5 quarts of berries with about one fourth of those being under ripe. Remove the stems from the berries and wash the fruit. Place in a heavy pan and crush the berries with a potato masher. Add 1 1\2 cups of water and cover with a lid. Place on a burner and bring to a boil. When the fruit has reached a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the berries are tender. This usually takes about five minutes.

Transfer this mixture to several layers of slightly dampened cheese cloth or a dampened jelly bag and hand the bag over a bowl or pan. You can allow the juice to strain overnight or you can twist the top of the cheese cloth until all the juice has been removed from the berries. This action serves to remove the many tiny seeds from the blackberries, giving you a smooth jelly instead of a jam like consistency.

Using 2 quarts of the juice, pour into a heavy pan and add 6 cups of sugar. Place the pan on a high flame and heat to a full rolling boil which cannot be stirred down. Insert a thermometer covering the bulb but so it is not touching the pan. Continue heating until the temperature reaches between 9 and 10 degrees fahrenheit above the boiling point. This is the temperature necessary for the sugar to concentrate enough for the concoction to gel. Immediately pour jelly into hot, sterilized jars. Be sure to leave about 1\2 inch from the top. Process by placing in boiling water and allowing to cook for approximately 20 minutes longer. Remove from the water and place self sealing lids or paraffin on the jars. Allow the jars to stand overnight on a rack and then store in a dark area.