Not far from where I live there is a large nature reserve. In the reserve there are loads of blackberry bushes and the other week armed with our baskets we went foraging. The blackberries have ripened early this year and there were plenty to be had. After 2 hours we had managed to collect just under 6kg between us, defnitely worth all the wrestling with thorns and stinging nettles.
Back at the house I soaked them in lightly salted water to rid them of any nasties. Then laid them out to air dry. Some of them were frozen for use in winter puds, the best way to do this is lay them out on trays first in the freezer then transfer them to bags/boxes, that way you don't end up with a clump of frozen fruit. The remainder was destined for my first adventure in jam making. You don't need anything complicated, just the following:
- Large heavy based stock pot or similar
- Glass Jars
- Jam Sugar
- Your chosen fruit
- 3 saucers
- Jam funnel or similar
- Wax paper (optional)
Before you start, wash your jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse, then stand them upside down on a baking tray and place in the oven at 150C to sterlise them. You will also need to place your 3 saucers into the freezer. Now you can start with the jam.
Place your fruit into your pan over a low heat for 5 mins to warm it up. Then with heat still low gradually add the jam sugar, stirring until it is all dissolved and there are no signs of crystals. Now you are ready to turn the heat up to high and bring your jam up to a rolling boil, that is where the mixture bubbles wildly even when you stir it.
Keep it like this for approximately 10mins, always stirring. If you get any scum on the top just skim it off but don't worry too much about it. Take one of your saucers out of the freezer. Put a teaspoon of the jam onto it, wait for a minute then push it with your finger, if the jam is ready it will wrinkle away from you, if not try again with another saucer after a couple of more minutes. Once you are happy with it turn off the heat and stir in the knob of butter, this gets rid of any last bits of scum and makes it go all gorgeous and glossy. You're now ready to fill your jars. This bit can get a bit messy but that just adds to the fun in my opinion! Make sure you fill your jars while they and the jam are still hot.
I add wax discs to the top of my jam but if you don't want to do that just ensure they are filled to the top. Put on your lids and ensure they are tight and then leave them to cool. The cooling process causes a vacuum seal ensuring the jam will stay fresh for anything upto 1 year (or sometimes longer) unopened.
All that's left to do now is pretty them up with labels and some scrap fabric. Just like the ones in those posh garden centres but for a fraction of the price. I made 7 x 200ml jars with this recipe, there are only 3 in the picture as family members were quick to nab some!
Oh and the jars I used were those cute little spice jars you get at Ikea that come in a pack of 4 for only £1.99. I'd had loads of them for my craftroom bits but had switched to something else so these were just knocking around.
HAPPY JAMMING EVERYONE.