“You ate the first one and it’s flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue
And a lust for picking…”
–from “Blackberry Picking” by Seamus Heaney
It’s Blackberry Time Again!
Autumn comes and the Blackberries ripen just in time for the back-to-school children. One of my favourite memories as a child is picking blackberries down country roads with my cousins, so that my Aunty Nora could make some of her famous and delicious Blackberry & Apple Jam.
We would never pick them just after it had rained, always checked them for worms and always ate as many as we picked!
There are many recipes and methods for making jams with blackberries and this is my favourite. The fruit is cooked without sugar at the start and then sieved to remove the seeds as they can be quite hard and get stuck in your teeth!
The sugar is added later in the cooking as the amount of sugar in any jam recipe is determined by the weight of the fruit. Removing the seeds will reduced the weight of the fruit by 40% therefore less sugar is required.
The apple helps to increase the pectin content giving this jam a better ‘setting’ quality, as well as adding more flavour & bulk.
Always sterilise your jam jars before use. You can do this easily by putting them in the microwave on full power for 3 minutes.
500g large cooking Apples
2 whole cloves
Juice & zest of 1 Lemon
1.5 kg granulated sugar
1. Peel, core and roughly chop the apples. Pull the stalks out of the blackberries.
2. Put the apple, blackberries, lemon juice, cloves & water into a large heavy-based pot and bring to the boil.
3. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes stirring ocassionally with a wooden spoon. The fruit should be smooth and soft.
4. Pour the cooked fruit into a sieve and rub it through with the back of the spoon into a clean pot. Discard the seeds & cloves.
5. Add the sugar, stir it in well and simmer the jam for another 20 minutes.
6. To test the setting properties of the jam put 1/2 teaspoon of it on a cold saucer and push the end of the spoon through it. If it sets and leaves a gap then it is now ready. If it falls back on itself, give it another 5 minutes cooking and test it again.
7. Pour your hot jam into the warm sterilised jars. (I put the glass jars in the microwave for 3 minutes to sterilise them.) Cover with a greaseproof paper disk and close the lid tight while it is still hot. Turn the jars upside-down once and then upright again – this helps in the sterilisation of the lid and also helps create the vacuum that will make the jam keep longer.
Leave the jams in a cool place until cold.
Delicious with homemade soda bread. My soda bread recipe is here.
This September I went picking Blackberries with my daughter and found millions of them (well, nearly) That post is here: Picking Blackberries & my Blackberry Madeira Pie Recipe