Welcome to the Acre, where I share my gardening & foraging adventures, trying to use every bit of what I grow & forage to make, cook or preserve.

Black Raspberry Jelly & Dye

Black Raspberry Jelly & Dye

Summer in the woods is one of the most rewarding seasons for foraging. This July I visited my parents for a few days and we spent every moment we could gathering from the woods, even putting on ponchos and heading out in the rain. Each morning we would wake up early, sit on their porch and look out into the trees, watching and listening as the forest would wake up. As the sun would rise, we would discuss what we might find on the raspberry and gooseberry bushes, or on the forest floor or base of trees.

One of the biggest highlights from the weekend was learning to make my moms black raspberry jelly recipe. The black raspberries grow along the edge of their woods, producing tons of beautifully black berries. We arrived a few weeks late after peak harvest, but my dad had picked and frozen plenty to make jelly from and enjoy throughout the winter. I grew up loving the unique taste of this beautiful berry and relishing every jar of jelly my mom made. The taste of this jelly immediately brings me back to summer days spent in the woods. It is excellent on toast, paired with a plain goat cheese on a cheese board or on top of plain yogurt.

One amazing bonus to this jelly is that the fruit pulp and any extra juice can be saved to make natural dye! On a merino and alpaca blend, it makes a beautiful dusty mauve and on cotton, a cool gray. See my process for dying following the jelly recipe.

Black Raspberry Juice

10 cups black raspberries

1 1/2 water


Black Raspberry Jelly

4 1/2 cups black raspberry juice

6 1/2 cups sugar

1 pkg. Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin, Original

8 Jelly Jars

Jar lifter

  1. Add the black raspberries and water to a large pot over medium heat, cooking down until the berries release all their juices, about 30-40 minutes.

  2. Pour the cooked black raspberries through a flour sack towel placed inside a fine strainer over large glass bowl to catch any of the seeds and pulp. Let strain over the bowl until the cooked fruit in the flour sack towel is cool enough to touch.

  3. Meanwhile, sterilize jars, rings and lids by boiling them in hot water. My mom uses a broiler pan with 2 inches of water in it, turning the jam jars upside down and placing lids and rings submerged in the water around the jars. I usually leave them simmering in the water while I cook my jam so they are hot and ready for canning. Check often to make sure the water has not boiled out.

  4. Once the black raspberry juice is cool, then gather gather the flour sack towel in your hands and squeeze out the access juice from the fruit pulp. Save the pulp for creating natural dye.

  5. Measure the juice and pour it back into a large clean pot. Any extra juice add to the pulp and save for making dye.

  6. Add the sugar and cook until it has come to a rolling boil (it will boil even when you stir) then cook for 2 minutes.

  7. Add the package of Pectin and cook until it comes to a rolling boil (it will boil even when you stir) then cook for 2 more minutes.

  8. Using a jar lifter, lift the jars out of the hot water and immediately ladle jam into jars.

  9. Using tongs, lift the lids and rings out of the hot water and screw on filled jars.

  10. Let sit on the counter until completely cool and all lids have sealed. Store in cool dry place for up to 2 years.


Black Raspberry Natural Dye

Before you create this dye, please read learning how to make & use natural dye and my dye process to familiarize yourself with safely making natural dye.

1. Place the pulp and extra juice in a pot you only use for creating dye. Add 6-8 cups of water to submerge the fruit pulp completely.

2. Bring to a light simmer and cover, cooking over med-low heat for 1 hour. 

3. Strain through an old flour sack towel and natural dye use strainer into a natural dye only bowl. Wearing rubber gloves, squeeze the access dye out of the berries into the bowl.

4. You can now use the dye or freeze it until you are ready to use.

5. Pour the dye back into your dye pot, then add your mordanted fibers. Pour additional water into the pot if needed, until the fibers are submerged and easy to stir.

6. Cook covered on low for 1 hour, stir occasionally with a natural dye only spoon.

7. Strain and rinse your fibers until the water runs clear from your yarn.

8. Handwash with a free and clear laundry detergent or a little bit of shampoo (weird, I know, but it totally works!)
9. Let dry and store out of direct sunlight. Knit something beautiful!

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