It's blackberry jelly time
18 September 2012
Children adore picking blackberries. Not only do they get to collect and snack on sweet, bejeweled treats, but they also get to spend quality time with their family in a novel manner that takes them outdoors and has them gathering treats to be savoured later.
‘Blackberry-ing’, if I may, is a great way to keep the offspring well entertained on a warm autumnal afternoon.
You simply grab a basket – if you’re feeling twee – or a plastic box/bag, hop on your bikes, and head out to enjoy the fine, crisp weather of September.
Children adore picking blackberries. Not only do they get to collect and snack on sweet, black bejeweled treats, but they also get to spend quality time with their family in a novel manner that takes them outdoors and has them gathering treats to be savoured later.
Once home, the possibilities of blackberry consumption are endless. With your glut of free hedgerow booty, you could make jam, bake pies, and build fruit salads. (Tip: blackberries don’t keep for long, but are ideal for freezing for prolonged enjoyment.)
On our last outing for blackberries, we decided to make blackberry and apple jelly – it’s one of our favourites. A concoction of a translucent scarlet, this jelly has seen me dashing off to the bakers all week to buy bread, just so that we can continue to sate our jelly needs without resorting to licking jam straight off the spoon (but that day is coming any day now).
This jam, in my humble opinion, is the best jam bar raspberry. It is incredibly easy to make, and the taste perfectly captures the warmth and sweetness of these wonderfully English fruits.
FYI: The jelly creation process is slightly more long-winded than jam, but it’s worth it! And for many, the lack of seeds and fruit pulp makes this a more family-friendly item.
Apple and Blackberry Jelly
A kilo of apples, roughly chopped
A kilo of blackberries
A kilo (approx.) of preserving sugar
Roughly chop your apples. Throw them into your jam pan along with the berries and about 1.2 litres of water. If you haven’t got enough berries – change the weights and make up the slack with more apples.
Gently simmer until the fruit is soft and squishy – about 20 minutes. Get your jelly-bag ready, the stand set-up. Very gently and slowly spoon the hot fruit mush into the jelly-bag – making sure you have a bowl or jug underneath to catch the juice.
Leave the juice to collect over-night. Try to refrain from squeezing the fruit as it makes the liquid cloudy and you will loose that beautiful translucent scarlet look that makes this particular recipe stunning.
Measure the juice – depending on the quality of the fruit, you should have just over a litre – hopefully 1.2 litres. For every 500ml-600ml of juice, use about 450 or 500g of sugar.
Put the crimson liquid into the pan. Bring it gently to the boil – when it begins to get hot throw in the sugar and stir until the sugar has melted. Turn up the heat and boil hard for about 10 minutes – test the jelly for setting point using a saucer (store it in the freezer); if the jelly wrinkles when you push it on the cold plate – it is ready. Remove the jelly from the hob and fill up your hot sterilised jars immediately.
(I find the best way to sterilise jars is to wash them in hot soapy water then allow them to dry out completely in a warm oven. Take the hot jars out of the oven as you need and screw on the lid as quickly as you can.)
By Hannah Newton