It’s that time of year again where we start seeing little jewels appearing on what appears to be an overgrown mess of a plant. I’m talking about blackberries, sometimes known as bramble berries. They can be found in an abundance of places even in cities, you just have to looks for a patch of land that isn’t well preened, even on concrete you can find them lurking in the corners.
If you are going to pick some I would highly recommend wearing long sleeves and trousers as the thorns can be pretty sharp. You should also check that you are not intruding on anyone’s land first.
Generally at this time of year I am always armed with a plastic box in case I happen to stumble past some as I have been known to find them on the way from work to the train station! I have tried the no box approach and just crammed my pockets full of them, but I later found out that blackberry juice isn’t the easiest to wash out of clothes!
Of the berries that make it home they usually end up in jam, and they are one of the easier fruit to turn into jam as they naturally gel together due to the high pectin levels. This recipe can easily be halved or doubled depending on your berry availability- 500g of fruit results in two jam jars. For this you will need a large heavy bottomed pan, and by ‘heavy bottomed’ I mean one that is fairly thick as opposed to a lightweight aluminium saucepan. If you have a cast iron pan (which in hindsight I should have used mine) that would be ideal.
Makes 2 jam jars
- 500g blackberries
- 500g granulated sugar
- Sugar thermometer (optional)
- Wash you jars in warm soapy water. If using jars with a rubber seal remove these after washing. Place both jars into the oven and turn on to 100 degrees. This helps sterilise the jars so that your jam will keep longer. Put a small plate in the bottom of the fridge or in the freezer if not using a sugar thermometer
- Add your berries to the pan and turn the hob on to a high heat. Once some of the juices start to be released add the sugar, stirring until dissolved
- When the jam reaches a ‘rolling’ boil, or is boiling very vigorously. Keep an eye on the pan and stir every so often. Be careful as although the jam maybe only be 80 degrees, sugar is very sticky when molten and you do not want to get this on your skin
- Allow to bubble away for 20 minutes or until the temperature reaches 120 degrees. If you find that the jam is spitting a lot or if you are struggling to get it up to temperature, place a lid on the top
- Remove from the heat and wait for the mixture to slow down its bubbling. If not using a thermometer take the plate out of the fridge and spoon a teaspoon of the mixture onto the plate and allow to cool for a a minute or so. Now push the jam along the plate with your finger and if the wrinkles up it’s done. If it doesn’t wrinkle and just moves along the plate it needs a couple more minutes
- After ten minutes cooling remove the jars from the oven and carefully spoon the jam into the jars. If you have a metal funnel you could use this but otherwise don’t try and pour the jam or it may go everywhere
- When the jars are cool enough to handle, but still warm, put the lids on the jam. As they cool they will create a vacuum and the click top on the lid will pop down, creating an airtight seal
- When cool, store in the cupboard, and then in the fridge when opened. The jam can be used immediately after cooled if you wish