Blackberry season is synonymous with the coming of Autumn. As the days get shorter and with a chill in the air, comfort food makes a welcome return to the menu and there is no better comforting dessert than homemade blackberry tart (on which a separate post later). In the midst of the cold, dark, damp mornings a blackberry jam is the perfect accompaniment for toast or, my favourite is to top off homemade rice pudding with a large dollop of blackberry jam.
Of course it’s sacrilege to buy blackberries at this time of the season, particularly, if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by unsprayed hedgerows teaming with the brambles. The country lanes around Crossfintan Cottage are brimming with these berries at this time of the year. Make a walk enjoyable and go blackberry picking with buckets. Older children love it, competing to pick the biggest and juiciest berries. At the end of the day, you’ll be dreaming of blackberries. It’s what childhood memories are made of and it will make the resulting jam taste even better.
Marylouise O’Brien, chef, specializing in patisserie, (basically all things yummy) has kindly sent me the following recipe for blackberry jam.
Jam is made by boiling the basic ingredients of fruit and sugar together. The setting ability of the fruit will depend on the quantity present of the naturally occurring jellying agent, pectin. Fruits have different pectin quantities. Fruits with weaker pectin content such as strawberries are usually cooked with fruits of higher pectin content such as apples or redcurrants. Sure set or jam sugar- a mix of sugar and pectin is often used today to make jam. Acid content also affects the setting results, the presence of acid helps strengthen the setting properties of the pectin. The less ripe the fruit, the higher the acid content. Sugar content is high to aid setting and preservation. Too low a sugar content and the jam is more open to attack from wild yeasts, leading to fermentation. The time to reach the setting point will vary. Depending on the type of fruit, it take be 5-20 minutes. The setting point can be tested by placing a few drops of the jam mixture onto a cool plate (one from the fridge or freezer). Once set, the drop of jam should wrinkle if pushed with a finger.
Blackberry and Crab Apple Jam
- 250g blackberries
- 250 g crab apples (or sour cooking apples)
- 550g sugar
- (If the blackberries are very ripe, add 1 tbl spoon of lemon juice to the blackberries at the start of cooking)
- Wash the fruits.
- Peel the apples and roughly chop into chunks.
- Place the apples in large pot
- Over a low heat, stir gently until the apples start to soften and release some of their juices. Add the blackberries (and lemon juice if necessary).
- Add the sugar, and stir to prevent the sugar burning on base of the pot, continue until sugar is dissolved
- Once all the sugar is dissolved, boil rapidly, skimming the froth from the surface now and again, until the setting point is reached (see above)
- Skim a final time.
- Leave the pot sit off the heat for about 20minutes (this will allow the fruit time to become evenly distributed rather than just floating on the top)
- Ladle or pour into a jug and pour the jam into warm, clean jars.
- Cover the surface with wax paper and lid. Label and store.