It’s been a while since we last spoke. Lot’s of things have happened; lockdown, unlocked a little and we all felt apprehensive. Some of us still wear masks on public transport and inside public spaces, the West pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving civilians to fend for themselves (it’s what we do – don’t get me started), our work schedules have fluctuated between being super busy some days and weeks to waking up past 10am on other days. We managed to get a good 8-10 days away in Scotland and up to the breath taking Isle of Skye. We are, thankfully, still here and running our blog – however limited our time has been.
It’s 18.00 on the 4th of September. It’s been a chilled weekend, so far. I have lines to learn but it’s all good and so I thought I would write up the recipe for our Homemade Blackberry Jam.
I’ve never really noticed before but blackberries are everywhere. My attention was drawn to them one day on a lovely walk with my nieces. We were walking and chatting about nature; how important bees are to our environment and how beautiful butterflies are, when the 8 year old stopped. She noticed some splattered blackberries on the ground. With her eyes she followed where they could have fallen from and found a whole bunch of blackberries hanging – just within her reach. Before I could say “don’t” she picked a couple and gobbled them up. Then looked at my concerned/disgusted face.
“Lobos (nickname) you shouldn’t do that. They are wild and haven’t been washed”. I said.
She looked back at me with a huge smile and replied “It’s alright massi (mum’s sister). We do this all the time with Granddad and Nanny”. Her father’s parents. They go on nature walks all the time, foraging. Sceptical, I kept a watchful eye on her as we continued on our journey towards home. I was concerned that, perhaps, she was going to have a reaction, feel sick or start to cry because her tummy ached… from the blackberry. I was scared that her mother (my sister) would scold me for not taking care of her prized possessions. We reached home and she was as fine as a daisy. She came around the next day, perky as a peach and the day after that her mother told me she was a bright as the sun. Meaning everything was alright and I had overreacted. She had taken a bite out of nature and she was all fine for it.
Funny isn’t it? We never grew up eating wild berries – out of fear of being poisoned. Luckily these berries weren’t poisonous. After that day, I started to notice blackberries everywhere – it was a revelation that wild blackberries and raspberries grew everywhere, and that I could pick and eat them. One day on the way back from the gym, I was compelled to I pick a mask-full of berries.
Yes that’s right, a ‘maskful’. My hands were not big enough, so I used my face mask instead to hold as many berries as it could. Clever, hey! I picked with the intention of eating the berries when I got home. I thought I’ll mix them in with the other “Tesco’s” finest berries, chilling in the fridge waiting to be eaten. When I got home, I sampled the fruits of nature. And holy hell, it was like I had put a whole lemon in my mouth. They were so sour! I thought what am I going to do now. I started to feel bad for having picked them – it all seemed a waste. Until …I was struck with a fab idea – JAM! I’ll try my hand at Jam and quickly started to scour easy recipes. I came across one without Pectin! Pectin is routinely used in marmalades, jams, and jellies, because when it’s cooked at a high temperature with acid and sugar, it creates that nice gelatinous texture. However, upon further reading I found out that blackberries are high in pectin anyway, so you don’t need to add any extra.
Organic Blackberry Jam Recipe (Homemade)
So, all of this was slapdash without measurements and it turned out great! But here is what I did:
1. First, coat the berries in Sugar the night before.
How much sugar is totally down to personal preference. To my handful of berries I added 5 huge table spoons. Honey can also be used, if you prefer. The sugar is absorbed by the berries allowing them to release their juice.
Leave to soak over night.
*A standard full sugar blackberry jam uses equal parts blackberries and sugar.
The more sugar the quicker the jam reaches its gel like state, thus reducing the cooking time. But more sugar compromises the more fruity flavour of the jam, which is why Pectin is added.
2. Mash the berries
Take berries out the next day and lightly mash the berries with a fork creating a liquid-y pulp.
3. Cook the berries. Add a splash of lemon
Pop the berries in a pan and cook down on a low to medium heart. At this stage add a splash of Lemon (2tbsp). Continue to cook.
4. Add a knob of butter.
You will notice the jam starting to bubble at this stage. This is good and you can, if you choose to, add a little knob of butter to stop it bubbling over – though the foaming and consistent stirring all adds to the flavour. Butter can affect the taste slightly so many people pass. I added a little butter. (1tspn)
5. Cooking time and change in consistency
Cook the berries for at least 15/20 mins, stirring through the bubbling liquid. You will notice the consistency changing as you cook the fruit down. It’ll take on a thicker, glossier look. Turn gas off and leave on the stove for about 45mins to cool down.
This is the moment of truth. Shake the saucepan to see if your jam has set. Then take a spoon to it. If your jam is gel-like you have cooked it long enough, If not – you need to get it back on a low heat and cook a little further. Be careful not to burn the fruit – hence the very low heat.
6. Sterilise your Jam Jar
Now, I took an old empty cream jar. Washed it thoroughly and then sterilised the jar by placing in it boiling hot water, whilst I made the jam. This ensures a clean, sterilised Jam Jar. Whilst your jam is cooling down, tend to the jar. Take it out of the water. Wipe and leave on the side to also cool down.
7. Jar your Jam
Once everything has cooled down, spoon your jam into your jar. Toast some bread or crumpets. Make your self a cuppa and drench your toast/crumpets in butter and homemade blackberry jam. Yum!
* My jam was lacking in a little sugar. It was still quite tart – so I could have added more sugar/honey, but the tartness married with the butter on hot crumpets was quite delicious. *A standard full sugar blackberry jam uses equal parts blackberries and sugar.
So there you have it. Really simple and easy homemade blackberry jam. There are plenty of easy to follow recipes online, so you have lots of choice. I now know what to do with our left over strawberry crop next summer. I cannot wait! Let me know how your Blackberry jam turned out.