Phil's Complete Mayhaw Jelly Recipe

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Jarred Mayhaw jelly has become a form of currency for us folks down here on the Ouachita River. It's that valuable. The process is time consuming and starts out by picking berries in the hot Louisiana sun, down on the ground and reaching up into the trees. That's what berry picking looks like all across the US, and I think most everyone can get their hands on some kind of berry. From the local farmer's market, an orchard, or in the wild, berries are available everywhere. There may not be mayhaw berries in your area, but find the berries that are and adjust the sugar/berry ratio accordingly.

From what I've been told, the Robertsons have been jelly makers all the way back to their days in Scotland. The tradition was brought over to the US and continues today. As of this last mayhaw season, my dad's jelly recipe has been passed down to his grandson, Grant, who is my oldest child. Grant, his wife Julie, our new grandbaby Teddy (aren't grandkids the greatest?!),along with Tony and I joined in the action with dad to make some 2022 jelly. We started that morning, and by early afternoon were putting it on Miss Kay's Melt in Your Mouth biscuits!

I'd like to share our family's tradition with you. Time with family, great food, bragging rights, and the oh-so-coveted jars of jelly make it all fun and create sweet memories.

Here are the materials and ingredients needed.

Each batch yields 3 pints

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

Baking sheet
Pint sized jars with seals and lids
3 large pots/boilers (we use 16 qt)
1 small boiler
Cheese cloth
Large spatula
Butter knife for butter
Small spoon for skimming
Kitchen timer
Bowl for measured sugar (we use a separate bowl to pour big bag of sugar into, then we measure into another bowl for each batch)
Big pot of Mayhaw berries (any berry is ok, just research a similar recipe for juice/sugar ratios and technique)
Purified water
2 one cup measuring cups (one for sugar, one for juice)

Ingredients per batch (makes 3 pints)

4 cups mayhaw berry juice
5 level cups sugar per batch
1 box Sure Jell per batch
1/2 pat salted butter per batch
Squirt lemon juice per batch (approx. 1/2 tsp)

Be sure to label the lid with type of jelly and year!

After picking up the fallen berries already on the ground, using a tarp is helpful as you shake the entire tree to let the ripe berries fall. Then you can funnel the berries from the tarp into your collection containers.

Remove all debris from the berries, sort and wash them thoroughly.

Place them in a boiler.


Turn on your oven, and place clean jars right-side-up on a cookie sheet to disinfect them. We like to clean the jars in the dishwasher and use heated dry before we place them in the oven.
Place your clean lids and seals (maybe 6 sets at a time) into a small pot on low heat to disinfect. You want the water hot, but not boiling.
Add purified water to just about an inch below the level of the berries. If you add too much water, it dilutes the juice and therefore the flavor of the final product. On high heat, bring the berries to a boil.
This is a great time to have some iced tea! The kitchen may be warming up a little and you've probably worked up a thirst. 
Boil the berries until you see foam. Turn the fire down a little.
Start mashing the berries to squeeze the juice out into the water, rolling and bringing to the surface. Dad uses a large spatula so he can pull the berries against the side of the boiler to mash them. Do this for 10 minutes. The water should begin to turn pink.
Prepare another pot to strain the berry juice. Place cheese cloth over the pot then place a colander on top of the cloth. You'll probably want to have this ready before you start cooking.
Pour the berries and juice into the colander. Remove colander from the cheese cloth. Allow the juice to drain through the cheese cloth into pot. Gather the cheese cloth to strain juice into the pot. Be careful, it's hot! Mash out all the juice.
Now you've got a pot full of berry juice! Prepare another thick boiler to cook the jelly. Now's a good time to prepare sugar, salted butter (to keep the foam down), Sure Jell, lemon juice, two one cup measuring cups, and a kitchen timer.
Count out cups of juice into the thick boiler. Place on burner on high heat.
Add Sure Gel and stir until melted. Add a squirt of lemon juice and bring mixture to a roiling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Add measured cups of sugar to boiling juice, stirring constantly to melt until it returns mixture to a roiling boil. Add the butter. Boil one minute using kitchen timer. Remove from heat and wait for foam to settle.
Place three heated jars with three sets of lids/seals on the kitchen counter. We sat them on a clean dish towel. Pour equal amounts into the jars. Each mixture should make three individual pints. Be careful to not spill mixture on the outside of the jars, it's sticky later!
Carefully skim off the extra foam that forms on top of the jelly.
Place the lids and seals on tightly and set aside to begin to cool.
As the jars cool and the jelly begins to set, you'll hear tiny "pops" as the jars seal. There's an indented area in the center of each seal that compresses tightly to let you know the jar is sealed correctly. 
Repeat the process over and over until you've used all the juice. After using the boiler to cook 3 or 4 rounds of jelly, wash out the buildup before starting the next batch.
If you don't use all the juice, you can cover it up and keep it stored at room temperature until the next day. Or, you can freeze it and make jelly later!
Your jelly is done! I watched and practiced with the best, and that's the best way to learn. My first time cooking without my dad was a complete success because I followed his technique and recipe exactly. Our family couldn't tell the difference between mine and his, and after tasting mine he said, "It's perfect!".
If you would've asked me three years ago if I ever thought I would have a dad who would teach me about the outdoors, hunting, hospitality and cooking, I would've laughed at the impossibility of it. But here I am, and here he is. And God is in the middle of all of it.
The Bible talks about passing down traditions, especially Biblical truths and the saving grace of Jesus. What better way to grow closer together and discuss the Bible than by cooking time-honored recipes? Learning and growing spiritually and as a family, leaving each generation blessed, loving the Lord, and making tasty food. All of this we share with others because it's all good news!