Blackberry season is in full swing and if you’ve gone on any walks recently, you probably will have seen blackberry bushes full of branches that are heavy with fruit. Blackberries are one of the easiest fruits to ‘forage’ or pick in the wild for free, as long as you make sure you aren’t on anybody’s land and are certain its blackberries you’re picking. If you decide to buy them from a shop, be sure to have a look at the local greengrocer’s first, you’d be surprised how cheap these delicious fruits can be at this time of year. We managed to buy punnets for only 89p each!
Jam-making sounds incredibly fancy and complicated, but its actually really really easy. The basic principle is that you cook the fruit with sugar and add a gelling agent like pectin, in order to preserve it. This means that you can preserve fruit that is fresh now and eat it in winter-time, when the season is over. The only tricky part of jam-making is the fact that you have to sterilize the jars by pouring boiling water over them, and then dry them with a clean towel. If you don’t properly sterilize your jars, the jam will go mouldy quite quickly.
The total cost of making 2 large jars of jam is about 3.70 if you buy the blackberries, and significantly less if you forage them.
500g blackberries, washed and dried
pectin (the amount you need for 500g should be on the back of the packet)
tablespoon lemon juice
clean dishtowel and/or a roll of kitchen towel
Before you begin, put a metal spoon in your freezer and boil a full kettle of water. Also prepare one or two clean dishtowels and have a roll of kitchen towel handy.
place your jam jars and lids in a clean and empty sink and pour boiling/just boiled water in the jars until they spill over, and also pour it over the lids. This will sterilize your jars to kill the bacteria and prevent your jam from going mouldy
put them in a large pot, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water. Turn on the heat on medium-high, stir and mash the blackberries as you bring them to a light simmer for 5-10 minutes
add the sugar, stir until dissolved on a low heat and then turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil
allow the jam to boil lightly for about 10 minutes, stirring in order to prevent sticking
add the pectin and stir in, allowing the jam to lightly simmer for another 10 minutes
In order to test whether your jam is done, take the spoon out of the freezer, drop some of the jam mixture on it and wait a couple minutes to see if the jam sets when it cools. If it has set in a jelly-like consistency and is no longer liquid on the spoon, your jam is done!
Take the still-hot jam jars out of the sink and use a clean dishtowel or kitchen towel to dry the inside and lid of the jars completely, until they are bone dry. This is very important to prevent mould. Pour/ladle the jam into the jars until they are almost full and clean any jam off the rim, where the jar meets the lid. Put the jars upside down in order to form a vacuum and help the jam preserve
If you sterilized well, your jam should keep unopened in the pantry for up to 6 months. Once opened, keep in the fridge for up to a few weeks.