Beautyberry Jelly - Beautiful Treat from a Beautiful Shrub!

Beautyberry Jelly - Beautiful Treat from a Beautiful Shrub!

Beautyberry Bush Branch with overlaying title

The Beautyberry Bush is one of the most unique and gorgeous ornamentals available in the landscape throughout a wide range of growing zones and climates! There are currently about 165 varieties of Callicarpa around the world and the American Beautyberry is our local native shrub!

A lovely deciduous bush, they feature long, arching branches of lush green, pointed foliage. Highlighted by frothy pink blossoms that crown the tops of each branch. These will be smothered in pollinators and bees all spring into summer as they bloom from the base up to the tips in succession.  

By mid-summer you’ll see clusters of green berries forming close to the stem and surrounding each pair of leaves, turning a glorious purple with a satiny sheen by late summer. Enjoy the long-lasting bloom and berry color, holding steady through the fall and clinging through winter for the birds to eat!

Beautyberry Jelly

Beautyberry Jam in the Jar with Berries

What you may not have known about these great shrubs is that the berries are a tasty treat as well as eye-catching gems in the garden! While not the best tasting raw, in fact, they can be either tasteless or medicinal in flavor, once cooked they add a unique flavor to jam, jelly, dried for tea, or made into syrup! All with the gorgeous rosy pink hue!

Here we’ve made some lovely Beautyberry Jelly with the juice from this delightful fruit. Just as beautiful as the berries, the rosy-pink jelly is lovely to spread over toast or crackers, or as syrup to pour over desserts and pancakes! Plus, it’s as easy to make as any other Jelly out there!

With a sweet, mild flavor that’s reminiscent of elderberry, rose-petal jam, and a bit lemony, you’ll love this garden treat for you and your family, or to present as unique gifts!

Gather your fruit:

This is a great activity to do with the kids! Since the fruit easily rolls off the stems and without staining fingers. Just hold the bowl under each branch and gently roll the clusters between your fingers to release them! The ripe berries quickly fill a bowl and just 15 minutes of gathering yielded a quart of berries.

Harvest the darkest purple fruit that has the fewest white or green berries in each cluster. Leave those clusters until later when they ripen in another week or so. There will be a few white ones where the sun didn’t reach and color them up, this is fine.

What you need:

  • Sterilized canning jars and lids
  • Sterilized spatula, funnel, whisk, ladle, and potato masher
  • Cheesecloth, or Chinois or strainer/colander
  • 2-4 quart heavy saucepan or pot
  • 1-2 quart Measuring cup
  • 1 quart (4 cups) of washed berries
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1-2 teaspoons Lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 Packet Pectin (regular or low/no sugar)
  • 2-3 cups of sugar (or sweetener alternative)
  • Towels or hot pads
  • Water bath canner (optional)

How to:

    wash and strain beautyberries

  1. Wash berries well and pick out any that are shriveled, browned, or unripe, and any twigs, leaves, and stems. (the small green cap on a few of the berries is fine to leave if you can’t pick them all off.)
  2. Have very clean utensils, sterilized jars, and lids ready to go.
  3. Add berries to a pot with equal amounts of water and bring to a gentle boil for 20 minutes over medium to medium-high heat.
  4. Stirring occasionally, mash the berries with the potato masher well to release all the juice. Skim off any foam that forms on the top.
  5. After 20 minutes, remove from the heat and press through a fine strainer, sieve, colander, Chinois, or squeeze through layers of cheesecloth (a tea towel will work - but be careful - it’s HOT!) to press out all the liquid into a measuring cup.Stirring berry juice while it heats up
  6. Discard the pulp and seeds.
  7. Measure the amount of liquid you have strained - We ended up with about 2 cups. The amount will vary depending on the growing season and variety of Beautyberry. (It will look brown, but don’t worry!) 
  8. Return 2-3 cups of the liquid to the pot and bring it back to a boil over medium heat.
  9. Add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice to raise the acidity (optional).
  10. Sprinkle in 1 packet of Pectin and whisk gently to ensure it’s fully dissolved.
  11. Bring back to a rolling boil while stirring and let roll for 1 minute. (you’ll see your pink color returning!)
  12. Add 2 cups or equal amounts of sugar (more depending on your taste), sprinkling small amounts at a time and stirring/whisking gently while it returns to a boil.
  13. Continuing to remove any foam that forms around the edges (this keeps your Jelly clear)
  14. boiling the berry juiceBoil hard for 2 minutes then remove from heat.
  15. Using a very clean ladle, funnel and equipment, pour into your sterilized jars and clean the edges/rims well with the towel.
  16. Screw the lids and flats on hand tight (CAREFUL they are HOT!).
  17. Either refrigerate once they’ve cooled, or you can take your hot cans and preserve them with a water bath canner - making your jelly shelf-stable.

This recipe made four 8 ounce canning jars. For the syrup - follow the above steps, just omit the pectin. 

They also freeze very well so you can store your bounty of Beauty berries for later use or even dry them for tea! Just remember to leave some for the birds this winter!

Can the beautyberry jam for easy storage

So head over to NatureHills.com and get your beautiful Beautyberry Bush and beautify your landscape and pantry today!

Gather from untreated, unpolluted shrubs, away from a road, and away from pesticides or other contaminants. You should not consume a plant unless you’re 100% certain it’s an identified and edible species. And, even if a plant or berry is edible, unfortunately, are not any guarantees that you do not have a unique allergy. Sample a small amount of any new item then wait for 48 hours before trying more, just in case you do have a reaction. 

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