Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Foraging for blackberry jam

Blackberries are such a generous fruit. They just explode out of hedgerows and bushes everywhere at this time of year, gleaming lusciously and begging to be picked - for free! I can't understand why blackberry bushes aren't mobbed by foragers, but I'm glad they're not. I was so pleased to find that we had lots of them near us when we moved, as we left a glorious crop behind us when we left Sussex. I've been popping out whenever I need a break from work, and have quite a lot in the freezer already. This time I decided to turn my new pickings into some jam.

The 'ruby-red river'

I've tried making jams before with a reasonable amount of success, but this is a very very easy recipe I tried for the first time last year. It's from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess, and she calls it 'Hands-free raspberry jam' - although I admit that I wasn't quite that much of a jam superstar as to not use my hands entirely. You heat equal quantities of fruit and sugar in the oven in two separate bowls, pour the sugar on to the fruit, and watch as they melt together into a 'ruby-red river' as Nigella says. Of course my version used blackberries instead of raspberries, but the principle was the same. When I made it last year though I found that equal quantities of fruit and sugar were far too sweet. This time instead of 250g of each I used closer to 350g of berries and 200g or even a little less of the sugar - and it's still more than sweet enough. I also smushed the berries and sugar up together a bit more this time, as the last lot was either very berry-ish, or very liquidy according to what spoonful you got. My quantities filled a standard pot plus a small pot and made me feel very domesticated and ready for autumn. The wonders of summer fruits and veggies may be coming to an end, but I'm prepared. TWO pots. That will see me through the cruel winter.

I know - it looks ghostly doesn't it? I couldn't get the lighting right, but I quite like its mysteriousness

Very very easy blackberry jam (adapted from Nigella)

Makes TWO pots - TWO

About 350g blackberries
About 250g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4
Put the fruit and sugar into two separate bowls or ovenproof dishes - I used a casserole dish and its lid. Put the bowls into the oven for 20-25 mins. Take them out carefully and pour the sugar over the berries. The fruit will meld and melt into the sugar, but mash it up a bit with a wooden spoon if you want a more even mix of fruit and sugary liquid. Pour into cleaned jars. Fasten and leave to cool before keeping in the fridge.


Johanna said...

I have seen this recipe and wondered about making it - home made jam recipes always freak me out with all the sugar so your reflections on the recipe are useful - by the way at a market last weekend I saw a blackberry jam called Black Death Jam which was a little creepy but also amusing

Ilana said...

no new posts for 9 days? you must be busy! have you finished all your deadlines and job interview?


Lysy said...

I always worry a bit about the bottling and sterilising as well - jam is a scary thing all round! I love jams with good names. We saw a 'Traffic Jam' once, which was three different coloured layers. I was so keen to buy it but our jam shelf is a little overloaded already!

Sorry for the lack of posts - we went on holiday!