The Blackberries this year are big and juicy and there are loads of them. I have been picking as many as I can to use.
One thing I do use them for is making jam.
I don’t like the seeds in blackberry jam, (perhaps I’m just getting old, as it never used to bother me), so I made my jam ‘seedless’ this year.
I have worked out, that because I picked my own blackberries, each jar of homemade seedless blackberry jam, cost me just 45 pence per jar (454 gram jar) to make. The cheapest jar of blackberry jam I have managed to find is, ‘Hartley Best Blackberry Jam’ (not seedless), which is £1.49 per 340g jar.
Though I do say so myself, I’m sure mine tastes an awful lot nicer.
I use a ‘maslin’ pan to make my jam.
Mine was second hand, which I purchased for just £10 from ebay and it was worth every penny.
If you haven’t got a maslin pan, you can use any large pan. Just remember the jam boils up high.
Before you start, put some side plates or saucers, in the freezer for a few hours. These will be used to test the ‘setting point’
Wash the blackberries
Weigh the blackberries and put into a large pan (the contents will rise as it boils)
Put the same weight of sugar in the pan with the blackberries
Put the pan on a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has melted and the sugar crystals cannot be seen on the back of your spoon.
As blackberries have a very low pectin level, add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice per 1lb of blackberries.
At this point turn the heat right up and bring to a boil and continue boiling hard. I find the jam burns at the bottom of my pan if I just leave it to boil, so I stir the jam continuously, though other recipes don’t tell you to do this.
When the blackberries are soft, I sieve them into another bowl to remove the seeds, pressing lightly down on the fruit with the back of your spoon.
Then I return the juice to the pan and continue to boil hard.
After 10-15 minutes, test for the ‘setting point’. To do this, put a small drop of jam on one of the side plates from the freezer. After a few moments, push the jam with your finger and if it wrinkles, it’s ready.
If it doesn’t wrinkle, continue boiling hard.
Keep checking the jam every five minutes until the setting point is reached.
When the setting point is reached, take the pan off the heat and leave it for fifteen minutes. If there is scum on your jam, you can skim it off, but I just stir in a small knob of butter which also reduces the scum.
Sterilise some jam jars (gas mark 4 for 5 minutes)
Pour the jam into the jars and seal with lids. I use the jars that have a sealable lid (i.e. the jars that jam is sold in, at the supermarket). This way you don’t need to worry about wax discs to create a seal. As the jam cools, the lids ‘pop’ down and make you jump.
The jam stores for ages and ages in a cool, dark place, however, once you have opened a jar, keep it refrigerated.
If it’s your first time making jam, there are some jam making tips here (approx half way down the page) to help you.
Interesting Blackberry Facts:
- Blackberries are sometimes referred to as “Brambles” and “black caps”.
- The Latin name for blackberries is ‘Rubus fructicosus’.
- Wild Blackberries are commonly seen in British hedgerows, woodlands and waste ground.
- Blackberries are traditionally used in crumbles, pies, jams and jellies, vinegars and wines.
- Strong ale was brewed from blackberries in the 18th and 19th century.
- They are a good food source for thrushes, blackbirds and other animals.
- Blackberries are full of anthocyanin’s (anthocyanin is generally known as a cancer-fighting antioxidant).
- One cup of Blackberries (approx… 140grams) is about 140 calories.
- Unripe blackberries won’t ripen once they are picked.
- Blackberry tea was once used to cure dysentery.
- Ancient Greeks believed they cured mouth and throat diseases and were used as a preventative against many ailments including gout.
- The blackberry leaf was once used as a hair dye.
- Blackberries go mouldy very quickly and will only store for a couple of days in a fridge, but they freeze really well.
- Blackberries are known to have health benefits for women due to their high levels of phytoestrogens. These act like the hormone estrogen which is a hormone necessary for childbearing and is involved with bone and heart health in women.
- There are around 400 micro-species of wild blackberry growing in the UK.
- Brambles were used like barbed wire by the ancient Britons.
- John Gerard was an English herbalist, famous for his herbal garden in the 16th century. He gave a remedy ‘’for fastening the teeth back in’ using blackberry leaves.
- The fruit of the bramble is not a true berry, as botanically it is termed an aggregate fruit.
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.