This weekend saw my first attempt at making jam, from a modest amount of foraged blackberries. Just over 500g of blackberries resulted in almost-two jars of jelly. It’s quite a process for such a small amount of jam; next time I need to make sure I have a kilo or two of fruit!
King of the Hill was sent out to buy preserving sugar, and came back with jam sugar which contained added pectin, so I only used one lemon, general consensus seems to be about 3 lemons for each kilo of fruit. I used the following proportions and method:540g blackberries 540g preserving sugar Juice of one lemon
Rinse the blackberries under cold running water in a colander, then place them in a large (preserving) pan with 200ml of cold water (400ml per kg of fruit).
Bring the mixture up to boiling point, then cover the pan and turn the heat down, leaving it to simmer for about 20 minutes, until the fruit is pulpy and soft.
Add the sugar and lemon juice.
Heat slowly for three or four minutes, stirring regularly, until the sugar is dissolved.
Place two small plates or saucers in the fridge, to use for testing the jam’s setting point. (I only needed the first one!).
Uncover the pan, and increase the heat, bringing the mixture up to a vigorous boil. Heat it rapidly for 8 minutes, at sufficient temperature for the mixture to bubble but not so high that it boils over the top of the pan.
Then drop a spoonful of the mixture onto one of the cold plates. Let it cool for a second or two, then push it with your fingertip. If the surface of the mixture wrinkles then it has reached setting point, otherwise return to the boil for two more minutes, and test again. Repeat this last stage as needed until setting point.
Hold a metal sieve over a large glass mixing bowl, and carefully fill the sieve with the hot blackberry mixture. Push the juice through the sieve with a metal spoon until no more comes through, and then discard the pulp remaining in the sieve. Repeat this in batches until all the mixture has been strained into the bowl.
Transfer the jelly into clean, sterilised jars.
Jam shrinks on cooling, so the jars can be filled to the brim – my mother in law also gave me the following great tip if using jars with plastic coated screw tops: fill the jar to the very brim, put the lid on immediately and screw very tight, then invert the jar of jam for a couple of minutes. This drives out all the air (similar to the trick with paint cans) and removes the need for waxed discs. If the jar is less full then instead pop a waxed disc on the surface and leave until is is completely cold before putting a lid or jam cover on the jar. My second jar wasn’t quite full, so I used the second technique for that one.
I was oh-so-careful throughout the process, very aware of the beautiful and beguiling deep rich purple of the fruit mixture, and the pale new oak worktops and still unsealed slate floors below!
Sweet, tangy jam. Mmm. I think I shall be trying this again!