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Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mahonia Berry Jam

Mahonia berries, also known as Oregon Grape

Precious jars of intense flavour

Labels are important as the jam keeps for three years
Mahonia nervosa is also known as low growing Oregon Grape. We have lots of the dwarf bushes growing on our property and because this has been such a wet summer, the berries are large and juicy. Picking is a pain as you have to stoop, the leaves are prickly, and creeping blackberry vines are ready to grab your wrists and ankles. The bushes grown underneath Douglas Fir, so the container of berries also contains many fir needles that have to be picked out. So I only make this jam every few years, but the results are stupendous - such flavour!
Jam recipe follows:
Pick what you can of the berries (I had about 4 cups). Rinse and pick over, then boil with a few tablespoons of water to soften the berries. Cool and put through a food mill to remove the large seeds. Measure the pulp back into a heavy pan and add 1 cup sugar for each cup of pulp, which is the standard jam making ratio. I had 3 1/2 cups of pulp and I added 4 cups of sugar as the berries are very tart. Bring to a rolling  boil, then turn to simmer and attach a jam thermometer. When the temperature reaches 105 C. / 218 F. the jam stage has been achieved. Warning! this happens very fast with mahonia, much faster than it does for plum or blackberry jam. So be ready and have your small jars and snap lids ready to roll. Label your snap lids and refrigerate any that do not snap sealed. All of mine snapped so they will be stored in a dark place and eaten over the next 2 to 3 years. Aging improves flavour.


  1. Cheers for this recipe. I only just found out that Mahonias had edible berries and decided to go on a Google hunt to find some recipes for them. I am going to give making some jam a go before the blackbirds scarf all of those bright blue beauties :). Cheers from Tasmania Australia :)

  2. Great stuff! The seeds taste revolting and I had no food mill so jus trined the juice and made a jelly with roughly equal amount of suger to liquid. It visibly set while boiling - I didn't even get the chance to find my thermometer. Tastes a bit like blueberry?