When Summer ends and Autumn arrives with that first slightly surprising chill in the morning air, I take the jam making pan down from the top shelf and get out in the garden and the hedgerows to gather fruit to make my Blackberry and Apple Jam. Every jam maker worth their salt has been eyeing up the hedges for a couple of weeks by this stage in the game to see where the best and ripest fruit is. It is really important to pick the fruit at its best – ideally in the morning on a dry day and after a dry night. And you have to be quick, I remember one year leaving it just a day too late and someone had got there before me and stripped my target Blackberry bushes clean of fruit – I even spotted her making off with multiple Tupperware containers – certainly the stuff that local feuds are made of. So don’t put it off and get your old jam jars ready for the fray.
I prefer to pick and make jam in fairly small batches which is more manageable and means you can harvest the fruit and make your jam in smaller quantities over a couple of weeks. We have been serving this particular jam to guests in our Airbnb shed and it has been going down a treat, so I thought I would share it more widely…
Blackberries that are growing wild make such beautiful, luscious jam, with a jewel like colour and a deep fruity taste and aroma – plummy, sweet and berry laden. That smell when you are cooking the fruit is just gorgeous and perfectly sums up this transition from Summer to Autumn so well. I add cooking apples to my Blackberry jam, the tartness adds to the flavour and the naturally occurring pectin helps to get a good set.
Once I have all the jars filled and sealed. I sometimes have a little bit left over. I confess that its always tempting to just eat it still warm, off a spoon straight from the pan, but what is even better is to make a quick batch of scones and eat the left over jam with them (with or without butter or clotted cream.) And at this point I am going to be very controversial and state quite categorically that I am always a “cream first, jam second” eater of scones. I know this is the subject of fierce debate but the reason I do this is because frankly, I want and I desire to see and to witness that garnet red jam wobbling on top of a generous dollop of clotted cream before I take my first mouthful. Sure, the potential for oozing and dribbles is greater. But let’s face it there are few pleasurable activities that don’t involve oozing and dribbles in my experience! **
** Well it all went a bit Nigella there readers!
Recipe – Makes six jars of jam.
- 1 kg Blackberries
- 500g Cooking Apples peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 .5 kg Jam Sugar (I use Jam sugar, which has Pectin added and helps take the guess work out of the setting process)
- 300ml water
- Two large thick bottomed saucepans.
- Six x 500g jam jars with lids – cleaned and dried.
- Jam thermometer
- A metal spoon for stirring
- Old Newspaper
- A metal or ceramic measuring jug
- Place the Blackberries in one saucepan with half the water, and the apples in the second saucepan with the other half of the water.
- Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade
- Bring both pans to the boil and then turn down to a slow simmer.
- Cook until the apples are a complete mush and the blackberries are well softened, which should take about twenty minutes.
- Give both pans a regular stir to stop them catching or scorching.
- Place the clean and freshly washed jam jars, without their lids on a baking tray and place in the oven for about 5 minutes.
- Spread newspaper over the area where you intend to fill your jam jars – it can get messy.
- Place the heated jam jars on the newspaper ready for filling.
- When the fruit is ready, take off the heat and add the apples to the blackberries and mix well.
- Now add the sugar and stir very well until it is fully dissolved.
- Place the pan back on the heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring regularly to avoid it sticking or burning.
- Use the thermometer to check the temperature and when it reaches the indicated temperature for Jam or 105 degrees centigrade or 220 degrees fahrenheit it is ready – make sure the temperature is taken not just from the centre which may be hotter.
- Now carefully remove the pan from the heat and pour the jam into the heated jars or use the jug to fill the jars if the saucepan has no pouring lip.
- Fill each jar almost to the top but leave about a matchstick width of space at the top of the jar.
- Quickly seal the jars by placing the lids on very tightly. You may need to use a clean tea towel for this as the jars will be hot.
- Label with the date and what is in the jar and when cool place them in a dark, cool place to store.