Mother Nature does her best to provide, she really does. But we’ve become quite blase about her efforts in 21st century Britain. We’ve entered the finest time of the year for lots of free goodies as fruits and vegetables become ripe and ready. You don’t necessarily need to grow your own. There’s an absolute ton of fruit hanging on bushes just waiting to be picked, none more commonplace than the humble (but very tasty) blackberry.
Yet every year, untold tonnes of fruit will go unpicked and rot on the plants they belong to. Because, I guess, at the end of the day you can walk into Sainsburys and pick up a jar of jam for not much more than make-your-own would cost. The most valuable commodity in the Blackberry Jam recipe is not the blackberries, the sugar, the pectin or the lemons. It’s the time it takes.
But it’s fun to make your own jam. Easy too. And it does, most definitely, taste better when it comes from your own hard work. Most supermarkets will stock the special jam sugar and sachets of pectin. A kilo of berries, a kilo of sugar, the pectin and a couple of lemons grated for zest and squeezed for juice. Heat up the blackberries and mash them. Throw in the sugar and keep stirring so that it dissolves. In goes the lemon. Bring it to the boil and give it 7 to 15 minutes.
Have a plate in the freezer well in advance. You need to find out when the jam has reached the setting point. When it’s had a good boil, dollop a little of it onto the frozen plate. It will cool quickly, and when you push against it, the jam should wrinkle. If it doesn’t, keep boiling. Once it is ready, pour it into two sterilised jars. The easiest way to sterilise a jar is to wash it out and then microwave them for a minute each.
I filled two 485 gram jars with my kilo of berries, and half filled a smaller 300 gram jar. Which is plenty of jam. You can buy jars for this purpose on the High Street or use old jars. Try and get some wax tops to lay on top of the jam if you do the latter. And if you really picked a ton of berries you can do what I did next. An Apple and Blackberry Crumble. Served with double cream the first day and custard the second. Mother Nature never tasted so good. What are you waiting for? There’s still a good couple of weeks of the picking season to go yet….
Just in case you’re wondering about the title of the post. Mrs P can’t say Jammie Dodgers. And it tickles me.