Saturday, 9 October 2010

Jam and Jerusalem

We made our first foray into the world of jam-making this weekend, and what glorious fun it was too. As something I'd never attempted before I thought it was going to be difficult and slightly dangerous...all that bubbling sugar and fruit, but actually, it was relatively simple and straightforward and oh my god, how rewarding! - I've never tasted such wonderful jam - made all the more delicious knowing that the blackberries were free. Picked by our own fair hands from the bramble bushes near G's flat in Hebden Bridge. Next year I would love to invest in a jam pan and make some more, in fact, next year, I want to make more of all the chutneys, pickles and preserves we have made this autumn.

Blackberry and Apple Jam recipe

1k (roughly 2lb) of blackberries
350g (12ozs) of apples (eating apples, windfalls are fine)
White granulated sugar

Core and roughly chop the apples (skin on).
Put the apples, cores and blackberries in a large preservaing pan or large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add just enough water to cover and simmer until soft.
Sieve the softened fruit and weigh the sieved pulp (discard the skins and seeds left in the sieve). Add 450g (1lb) of sugar for each 450g (1lb) of sieved pulp.
Put sieved pulp and sugar into a large heavy bottomed saucepan (or preserving pan) and heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring the jam to the boil and continue to boil very rapidly for about 8-10 minutes until the jam reaches setting point. (What is setting point? See tricks and tips below).
When the jam has set, carefully pour into warm, sterilised jars, using a ladle or small jug (How to sterilise jars? See tricks and tips below)
Cover the jars with tight fitting screw-top lids, or waxed disks and cellophane pot covers (waxed disks, wax facing upwards and plastic covers secured with plastic bands).
Label when cold and store in a cool, dark place, away from damp.

Tricks and Tips:
Jam “set” or “setting point”:
Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method. Before you start to make the jam, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm jam can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make jam we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the jam, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The jam is far more delicious if it is slightly runny.

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