Blackberry Jam – Another Success!

Two Abundance volunteers – Sarah and Elizabeth had a very successful session on Saturday 9th September – 16 jars of blackberry jam plus a taster jar from just over 2kg of blackberries. We were worried we wouldn’t have enough blackberries this year to make any real quantity of blackberry jam but we still have around 2kg left over and another volunteer, Gill is going to try blackberry and lime jam – sounds delicious and I assume the lime will offset the sweetness, ideal if you find jam a bit sweet and cloying. 

Sarah and Elizabeth used 6 tblsp of lemon juice to ensure a set.  They also found the jam set in about 5 minutes.  Admittedly they used very little water to stop them burning when breaking down but it gave a good consistency of fruit to liquid.  They also used jam sugar [ie sugar + pectin] covering all bases to ensure a set!  Less water was used (300ml) because they cooked the blackberries from frozen which added some water.

Sugar quantities were 200grms sugar to 250ml of blackberry mixture.

damson Jam 

4lbs (1.8kg) damsons

Quarter pint (145ml) of water (you do need to add water if fruit is frozen, or partially frozen)

4lbs (1.8kg) sugar

Juice of one lemon (not in this recipe, I added this in myself)

  1. Wash and wipe the damsons.  Pick over to remove stalks
  2. Put into a pan with the water (I actually didn’t put the water in at this stage as I wanted to see how much juice the damsons generated first) and simmer gently until the fruit is soft, occasionally pressing the damsons against the sides of the pan to break open and release the stones. Alternatively de-stone the fruit prior to adding to the pan
  3. Remove the stones (I would suggest you let the damsons cool down first)
  4. It now says on the recipe to test for pectin.  I admit missing this stage out and added the juice of one lemon when I added the sugar
  5. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved.  DO NOT BOIL. This should take around 5 minutes
  6. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes (I timed it and it was 10 minutes) until the jam sets when tested. Be careful as the fruit will bubble furiously.
  7. Remove the remainder of the stones as they rise to the surface
  8. Remove the scum with a spoon, add a knob of butter after taking the pan off the heat
  9. Leave the jam to cool for around 10 minutes, this way you avoid the fruit settling at the bottom of the jar
  10. Pot and seal into sterilised jars while still warm

Makes around 6lbs (2.7kg) of jam

blackberry & apple jam 

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time:  40 minutes [approximately]
Makes: 1.75 litres

500g [1 lb] net weight green cooking apples

1kg [2lb] blackberries

454g of sugar to 570ml of liquid

Juice of 1/2 lemon for taste

1. Peel, core and chop the apples.  Pick over and wash the blackberries. Remove the stalks from the berries, cut away and discard any damaged or bruised fruit.

2. Place both fruits in a large pan with 125ml [4fl oz] of water.  Simmer slowly over a medium heat until soft [approx 20-30 minutes].  Stir often to avoid sticking.

3. Leave to cool, then measure liquid in ml.

4. Add 454g of sugar to every 570ml of liquid and stir, without boiling, for 5 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved.

5. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil rapidly for around 7-10 minutes stirring often.  Stir across the base of the pan to check the jam is not sticking or burning.

6. Test for setting point when the jam looks thick and syrupy [see below].  When set, remove from the heat. Remove any scum from the surface with a large spoon. A  knob of butter also helps disperse the remaining scum.

7.  Add the lemon juice and stir.

8. Transfer the jam to a heat proof jug [can use a ladle and funnel] and immediately pour into warm sterilised jars, wipe clean and add lids.  [See below]

9. Leave to cool. Use within 12 months of making.  Refrigerate after opening and use within 6 weeks.

Tips:

  • Try not to cook too much jam in one go. Do not use more than 4lb of fruit in a recipe at a time.
  • Make sure your pan is large enough and preferably, is heavy-based.   Adding sugar increases the volume.  Jam can rise up the pan when boiling.
  • Bottle [jars] – check there are no chips or cracks.  Wash bottles and lids in a dishwasher or hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry and sterilise the bottles in the oven.  Place on a baking tray and leave in an oven [preheated to 120 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark ½] for 20 minutes or ready to use.
  • Successful jams and preserves need an even balance of acid and pectin in the fruit.  Sugar and pectin play a part in the final firmness and flavour.
  • Sugar – is not simply a sweetener but is a preservative when used in high concentration as it acts to stop the development and growth of micro-organisms.  It is also a setting agent and aids the setting process in jams and jellies.  Acid in fruit forms a similar function.
  • Pectin – is found in the skin, flesh and seeds of most fruits to varying levels.  To test, place 2 teaspoons of methylated spirits in a cup, gently add 1 teaspoon of strained fruit mixture and stir gently.  It there is enough pectin to set the jelly or jam, clots should form into one large clump.  If they form only small clumps you will need to add some lemon juice to the mixture in the pan.
  • Cooking times – vary greatly depending on the size of pan used, fruit used, whether it is in season, it water content etc.  Therefore it is best to test the setting point sometimes 10 minutes before the time stated in the recipe.  Do not rely only on the times given.
  • Testing for setting point: Take a large spoon of jam, tilt it and it should fall from the spoon heavily with 3 or 4 drops joining together as they drop.  They may form a sheet and be slow to drop.  It is ready for bottling.  Alternatively you can take a teaspoon of jam, put onto a cold plate [need to put these into a freezer when you begin], return to the freezer for 30seconds or till cooled to room temperature. There should be a skin on top of the jam, which wrinkles if you gently push it with your finger- tip.

rhubarb & ginger jam 

Preparation time: 15 minutes + overnight soaking

Cooking time:  35 minutes [approximately]

Makes: 1.5 litres

1.5kg [3lb] trimmed rhubarb [leaves and ends removed]

1.5kg [3lb] sugar [granulated or preserving]

125ml [4fl oz] lemon juice

4cm [1 ½ inch] piece of fresh ginger, bruised with a hammer and finely chopped.

115g [4oz] crystallised or glace ginger finely chopped,.  Amount can be varied according to taste.

1. Cut the rhubarb into short pieces and alternatively laying with sugar and lemon in a glass [non-metallic] bowl and leave to stand over night. [Use later season mature rhubarb rather than the young slender spring stems for jam making.]

2. Next day scrape the rhubarb and sugar mixture into a large pan.  Place the bruised and chopped fresh ginger on a square of muslin [cheesecloth], tie securely with string and add to the pan.  Stir over a low heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring the mixture to the boil and boil rapidly for 15-20 minutes stirring often.  Remove the root ginger and stir in the crystallised ginger. NB when I made this recipe I didn’t have any muslin so just added the grated ginger straight into the pan – it was fine!

3. Test for setting point when the jam looks thick and syrupy [see below].  When set, remove from the heat. Remove any scum from the surface with a large spoon. Remove and throw away the root ginger muslin bag and stir in the crystallised ginger.

4. Transfer the mixture to a heat – proof jug [can use a ladle and funnel] and immediately pour into warm jars, wipe down and add lids.  [See below]

5. Leave to cool. Use within 12 months of making.  Refrigerate after opening and use within 6 weeks.

Tips:

  • Try not to cook too much jam in one go. Do not use more than 4lb of fruit in a recipe at a time.
  • Make sure your pan is large enough and preferably, is heavy-based   Adding sugar increases the volume.  Jam can rise up the pan when boiling.
  • Bottles [jars] – check there are no chips or cracks.  Wash bottles and lids in a dishwasher or hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry and sterilise the bottles in the oven.  Place on a baking tray and leave in an oven [preheated to 120 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark ½] for 20 minutes or ready to use.
  • Successful jams and preserves need an even balance of acid and pectin in the fruit.  Sugar and pectin play a part in the final firmness and flavour.
  • Sugar – is not simply a sweetener but is a preservative when used in high concentration as it acts to stop the development and growth of micro-organisms.  It is also a setting agent and aids the setting process in jams and jellies.  Acid in fruit forms a similar function.
  • Pectin – is found in the skin, flesh and seeds of most fruits to varying levels.  To test, place 2 teaspoons of methylated spirits in a cup, gently add 1 teaspoon of strained fruit mixture and stir gently.  It there is enough pectin to set the jelly or jam, clots should form into one large clump.  If they form only small clumps you will need to add some lemon juice to the mixture in the pan.
  • Cooking times – vary greatly depending on the size of pan used, fruit used, whether it is in season, it water content etc.  Therefore it is best to test the setting point sometimes 10 minutes before the time stated in the recipe.  Do not rely only on the times given.
  • Testing for setting point: Take a large spoon of jam, tilt it  and it should fall from the spoon heavily with 3 or 4 drops joining together as they drop.  They may form a sheet and be slow to drop.  It is ready for bottling.  Alternatively you can take a teaspoon of jam, put onto a cold plate [need to put these into a freezer when you begin], return to the freezer for 30seconds or till cooled to room temperature. There should be a skin on top of the jam which wrinkles if you gently push it with your finger – tip.