As it’s coming to the end of summer, this is the perfect time of year to go foraging, as I talked about in my previous post. If you are a master’s student like myself, taking a walk to pick blackberries offers the perfect respite from working, and if you’re an undergrad student, it’s a great activity to do with your friends before term starts. After all, there is no cheaper food than free food (just don’t forage on private land or on your own after dark). For me, making something tangible like jam with my hands is the perfect way of destressing after a day of typing on a laptop, and it is a universal truth that blackberry jam is the best jam ever. Even in an urban area, you should be able to find some wild blackberry bushes. If you can find a good source for the blackberries, this jam costs next to nothing to make, and makes excellent gifts for your friends.
You can size this recipe up or down according to how many you pick. I don’t like my jam to be overly sweet, so I do about 3/4 sugar to jam ratio. Taste the jam when it’s cooking and add more sugar if you want it sweeter. This is my own recipe, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of either Delia or my father.
You will need:
425g granulated sugar
3-4 small jam jars
Greaseproof paper/wax discs
- Put 4 saucers/small plates in the freezer for testing the setting point of jam later on. Pick stems etc out of your blackberries, but don’t wash them as when you boil them it will rid itself of impurities.
- Put them in a saucepan, and stir in the sugar. Leave them for an hour, by which time the berries will have released plenty of juice.
- Squeeze the lemon. Retain the pips and put them in a little saucepan with 3 tbsp of water, and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat on under the berries, and bring to the boil. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Take the lemon pips out of the water, and add the water (which will now be full of lovely pectin) to the boiling fruit. Add 2 tbsp of lemon juice from the lemon to the fruit.
- Simmer the jam for 30-60 minutes until it has set. Stir gently occasionally. Start testing the jam after 30 minutes. To test for the setting point, you need to grab one of your saucers out of the freezer, and put a little of the boiling jam on the plate. Put it in the fridge for 30 seconds. Take it out, and push your finger into the jam: if it has a skin on top and there is a wrinkle when you push it (like you can see in this photo), take the jam off the boil. If not, put back on boil again for another 5 minutes, and test again. Carry on doing this until you’ve reached the setting point, then take it off the heat.
- Whilst the jam is boiling, wash the jars out thoroughly. Rinse and dry them, and put them on an oven tray in the oven. Turn the oven on at 130°C, and bake them for at least 20 minutes to sterilise them.
- Once the jam is done and the jars are hot, carefully pour jam into each jar. Leave to cool and set. Whilst they’re setting, make the labels and wax discs. If you don’t have pre-made wax discs, circle round one of the jars on greaseproof paper and cut it out.
- Once the jam in the jars is set, put a wax disc on each one. Put the lid on, and put a label on it. These make wonderful gifts for friends if you dress them up nicely!