Tayberry Jam

Stewart said this jam is the best he’s ever had. He got so excited about it that he ran out the door to buy vanilla ice cream while the mixture was still cooking, so we wouldn’t waste even the foam I skimmed off the top. Myself, I’m a little bit partial to last year’s Blenheim apricot jam (if fate is willing, I’m going to get this year’s Blenheims tomorrow) but I concur — tayberries are something special. If you’d like a chance to test them yourself, read the details about the giveaway at the end of this post. Entry deadline is July 9.

I had so few of these precious berries that I ruthlessly hoarded them. This is exactly how many raw tayberries Stewart got to eat.

And he savored each one.

Like so many exquisite things, tayberries aren’t easy to come by. They’re a blackberry-black raspberry cross, first bred in Scotland in the early 1960s. Tayberries are bigger, sweeter, and tastier than their Loganberry cousins. They do well in California, but we don’t see many because they don’t lend themselves to easy picking, whether mechanically or by hand. You might get lucky and find some at a local farmer’s market, and a few U-Pick farms grow them. (Have you ever used to find local farmers? It’s a great resource.) Come October, I’m going to try planting a few canes here at home.

Tayberries have a short life after picking. If you find some, try to eat them or prepare them the very same day. If you can’t use them right away, you can sprinkle just a little sugar over them to help them keep.

This recipe couldn’t be more simple, though it includes a nifty twist to help your berries retain some good texture in the cooking phase. You can use it with any soft blackberry, raspberry, or related cross. Do note this: The recipe contains less sugar than many. If you like a little tart with your sweet, so the berries really shine through, I recommend it.

Tayberry Jam

3 pounds tayberries
1 ¼ pounds sugar (2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups)
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Sterilize your jars and put 5 teaspoons on a plate in the freezer, to test your jam for doneness later.

2. Set aside approximately 1/3 of the berries.

3. Combine the rest of the ingredients (remaining berries, sugar, and lemon juice) in your jam pan.

4. Bring the mixture to boil.

5. After the mixture thickens a bit, add the remaining berries. I added mine at about 10 minutes, which was about halfway through the cooking process. This late addition of the berries helps your jam to have a nice texture in the end.

6. Boil the jam until it sets, using a large, shallow, stainless-steel spoon to skim the stiff foam off the top as it cooks. I started testing my jam for doneness at about 15 minutes and considered the jam finished at around 20 minutes. (Keep in mind that lots of factors can affect your cooking time; it may be very different for you, so be sure to watch the mixture and test it.)

To test your jam for doneness: Remove the pan from the heat. Use one of your frozen spoons to scoop up a little bit of jam — not a whole spoonful. Return the spoon to the freezer and wait 3 minutes. Retrieve the spoon and hold it vertically. If the mixture runs very slowly or not at all, it’s done. Alternately, give the mixture a little push with your finger. If you see creases or wrinkles, it’s done.

7. Take care of any final skimming and ladle the hot jam into your sterilized jars. I processed mine for 5 minutes in a hot-water bath, which is appropriate for fruit at my elevation. Yields about 5 half-pint jars.

About the giveaway. Because these berries are unusual and delightful, I’m especially excited to share them. If you leave a comment on this post (make sure I can tell who you are and how to find you), I will include your name in a random drawing in two weeks, on July 10. If you win, I’ll send you one one of my prized half pints — if I can wrest it away from Stewart. (Really, I’m not that mean. Next week, we’re planning to drive down to Watsonville to pick more. That’s 100 miles from here — and that’s how bad we want these berries.)

Sometimes I get tired of taking photos of my jam in the same old locations. Since this one’s a star — and because it’s summer — I thought it might like to relax by the pool . . .

Giveaway Results: Thank you so much to every one who entered the drawing. It warmed my tayberries’ sweet purple hearts. The Randomizer chose Lucky #7. That’s Jane, who lives in Missouri and writes all types of cooking, and a whole lot of canning here!

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  • Reply Heloise June 27, 2010 at 1:29 am

    I love your photos! And it's been so hot here, I'm jealous of your jam by the pool.
    Aloha, Heloise…you know where I am. ;-))

  • Reply Lisa June 27, 2010 at 2:39 am

    What a delicious giveaway.

  • Reply Kat June 27, 2010 at 5:33 am

    I used to get tayberry jam at Pike Place Market when I lived in Seattle. It's one of my favorites. I miss all of the delicious jams – tayberry, marionberry, loganberry – of the West Coast!

  • Reply Livia June 27, 2010 at 5:51 am

    I've never tasted a Tayberry, nor seen them for picking around here in the Mid-Atlantic. I'll have to look harder.

  • Reply Doris the Goat June 28, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Mmmmm! Enter me, please.

  • Reply meg June 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    That sounds fabulous! I haven't tried a tayberry before and I'd love to! I bet they grow in the pacific northwest– I'll have to look into that and plant some. Yum!

  • Reply Jane June 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I have never heard of tayberry. Sounds good!

  • Reply Denise | Chez Danisse June 29, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Where have I been? I've never even heard of a tayberry. Thank you for teaching me something new today.

  • Reply kyouell June 30, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    I cannot stop salivating. (It's not drooling if you manage to keep your mouth closed, right?) Please enter me. I'm @KYouell on Twitter if for some reason you can't reach me through my Blogger/Google profile.

    Found you by @SisterDiane's tweet:

  • Reply lavienouveau July 1, 2010 at 1:20 am

    oooh! this looks so great!

  • Reply Andrea July 1, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Like many in the Midwest, I must admit that I've not come across tayberries. I do however know how jealously I hoard my blackcaps, and since they're a direct ancestor to the tayberries, I can but imagine how wonderful the latter must be. Good on you for offering to share!

  • Reply Dana M July 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Please enter my name. I would love a taste, and can pick it up in person!

  • Reply Elle Ross July 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I really like your frozen-spoon method. I'm totally doing that from now on. Oh yeah, and I would love to try this jam!

  • Reply Michelle July 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    How had I not heard of tayberry until now? I love blackberries, and I love the sound of this jam! Please count me entered in this contest!

  • Reply Amy July 3, 2010 at 5:35 am

    Love your blog! Just got some tayberries tonight and I'm anxious to try out this recipe. Please enter me. Off to explore the rest of your blog!

  • Reply Paige July 7, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Your jam certainly does deserve to rest it's sweet self by the pool!!! Where in Watsonville did you get these?

    We should meet up and pick sometime!

    In the meantime…I'd love to win a bottle! paige (at) canningwithkids (dotcom)

  • Reply art and lemons July 7, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I would love to try your tayberry jam!

  • Reply thecosmiccowgirl July 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    i've never tasted tayberry. i grew up with boysenberries (and miss them dearly now that i live in texas). enter me, please!

  • Reply Emily July 9, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I just learned about tayberries last week! My gosh they are good. I used to make ollaliberry pie but i think I might like tayberries even better than ollalieberries. So maybe I can win some jam! That would be swell.

  • Reply Dee Dee July 9, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Ohhhh, me,me,me! Sounds yummy.

  • Reply Jennifer Dolan July 9, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    I should get two entries on account of the lemons. :)

  • Reply Ioana July 10, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Tayberries that have lounged poolside? Irresistible!

  • Reply Marsha July 11, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Darn, drat and double drat! I just checked the Facebook group and realized that I missed this!

    Oh, well. You can bet I'll be keeping closer tabs on things from now on!

  • Reply Jane July 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Thank You Shae, this is so cool.

  • Reply Mireya July 14, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I found tayberries for the first time this weekend at our local u-pick farm and when I googled 'tayberry jam' this blog post was listed on the 1st page of results. When I was making it, I was a little nervous because my jam wasn't setting, but once it did, I realized I was just being impatient and needless to say it turned out AWESOME! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!

  • Reply Shae | Hitchhiking to Heaven July 14, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Mireya: Yahoo! Chalk one up for patience. I'm impatient by nature and have to work on that almost every time I make a batch of jam. Are we there yet?? Are we there yet?? So glad you got there and that this recipe worked for you.

  • Reply Another day, another jam « The Custard Apples July 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

    […] even farmshops for that matter), but after scouring the internet, I found one on a jam-making blog, Hitchhikingtoheaven. I suppose one could use the same recipe as for raspberry jam, as the fruit itself is much the […]

  • Reply Paul July 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    My wife and I just picked up a flat of TayBerries from a local farmer. We’re going to try to make Jam tonight! They look delicious!

  • Reply Brian walker July 20, 2016 at 5:00 am

    Been looking for Tay berry recipes as have vast numbers each year! They grow as well in Northern Ireland as in California. I would recommend everyone to get a cane which will fruit quite well in two to three years. If you know someone who has one a cutting is easy – bend a growing cane over and fix the tip in the ground or a pot. It will root in a few weeks if regularly watered.
    Treat them like rad tries – cut down the canes which have fruited at the end of the year and tie in new ones which have grown up while old ones fruited.
    Have tried several jam recipes but will now try yours!

  • Reply Steve Smith August 19, 2017 at 7:35 am

    I grow my own Tay’s in Hampshire Englanf and get about 6 to 7 kg from each plant. Very easy to grow and propagate. Grow on a 5ft high 10 to 15ft wide permanent frame with 4 to 6 wires across side to side. Plant a Tay in the centre, and train to the left one year and to the right the next. Grows one year and fruits the next, after fruiting has finished remove all growth that side to about 6 inches from the soil. Mulch with compost and keep well watered. Good growing. You can train 1or 2 stems down to the ground and pin down 6 inches from the tip , cover the pin with a bit of soil and soon you will have a new plant.
    Try Tayberry and Rhubarb. or Tayberry and Blackcurrant jams. Tays can be frozen whole whilst waiting to get a bag full.

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