Thursday, September 07, 2017

Canning: Salal Berry Jam

Salal leaves are used by florists and the berries can be eaten.
The granite cliff next to our float cabin gives way to forest. In the shade of firs, hemlocks and cedars a green-leafed shrub called Salal thrives.

I've tasted the berries before. They are somewhat dry and bland, but I've heard they can be made into jam. This year I decided to try.

The berries ripen in early August and look somewhat like a blueberries. I picked enough to make one jar of jam just in case it wasn't to my liking.

Here's the recipe I used to make my jam without pectin.

Salal Berry Jam


Separating and cleaning berries.
1 cup salal berries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice


Mashing half of the firm berries.
Picking salal berries is sticky work. I found it easiest to pick the whole bunch at the branch tips and separate and clean them at home in water.

Combine all ingredients and heat.
Mash half of the berries to release the juice.

Combine all of the ingredients in a pot that is wide at the bottom and large enough for the sugary mixture to bubble up without running over.

Fill leaving 1/4" headspace.
Cook until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometre.  To ensure the jam has reached the jell point you can test it in several ways. I used the plate method. Drop a teaspoon of jam onto a cold plate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. If it moves slowly, it's ready.

If you want to make your jam shelf stable for storage, use the water canning method. Here's a link to full instructions at the Ball/Kerr website. 

Fill the jar leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the rim and cover with a two-piece lid and ring.

Process the jar in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Start timing after the water reaches a full boil. Adjust the time for your altitude if needed. I have a one jar canner that's perfect for small batches.

Small canner for up to one pint.

Turn the heat off and remove the canner lid. Let the jar rest for 5-10 minutes. Use tongs to remove and let the jar cool naturally. Listen for the pinging sound to let you know the jar has sealed.

After 24 hours, check the lid to make sure it doesn't flex up and down when pressed in the center. If it does the jar didn't seal and the jam needs to be refrigerated for immediate use. If the seal is tight, remove the ring and wash the jar before storing in a cool, dark place.

The consistency is perfect for jam. The flavour is strong but not unpleasant. It was plenty sweet, but next time I would use more lemon juice to counteract the bland berries.

Do you preserve foraged foods? What are some of your favourite recipes? -- Margy


  1. I've eat salal berries but found them a little bitter. Maybe ate them at the wrong time. I just picked a huge load of blackberries, will make some jam in a few weeks so froze them for now. Also going to try making blackberry jalapeno jam this year out of part of them for something different.

    1. I find them more bland than bitter when fully ripe. I missed out on blackberries this year. I have plenty of jam from last year but am running out of canned berries. - Margy

  2. I like your tip about the type of pan to use. Things sometimes overflow on me when I cook. I haven't canned in decades. Don't miss it at all.

  3. I had no idea you could make berries from the salal, great idea. I make a lot of jams and jellies - for our whole family - and also pickles and pickle relish. I like to freeze the fruit for the jam or jelly and then do the canning in the winter when we can use the heat in the house. The pickles have to be made in the summer when things are ripe. I like the look of jars of canned goods in the pantry.


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy