Thursday, 6 September 2012

Blackberries and Apples


Lately we have been picking a lot of blackberries. Last week we picked a couple of pounds of brambles, or wild blackberries, near the sea shore. On the way home from school each day we look for them along the old railway line. I find nappy bags make very handy containers for spontaneous fruit picking.

I find fruit picking so relaxing. It's like therapy. (Or what I imagine the positive benefits of therapy to be. Maybe I mean it's therapeutic.) All I am thinking about is the task in front of me (although the Mummy radar is never fully switched off). Find fruit, squeeze it to test it's ripeness, pick it and add it to the growing pile in the bag or basket. Reach. Pick. Collect. Avoid the sharp bramble thorns. My mind just wanders all over the place and I feel very peaceful and happy. Not ecstatic happy, just quietly content with life. Does fruit picking make you feel like this? Or anything else?


My Grandmother has a wild tangle of proper, cultivated blackberries in her garden, and I picked lots of those while we were staying with my parent's last week. I hadn't really noticed the difference between the two types of fruit, but the blackberries are so much fatter, sweeter and juicier than their more wild equivalent. She also has a large apple tree and let me collect all the fallen fruit. I will give her some of the jam I made with it. A fair exchange.


So this week I have been having a few jam making sessions. Getting a bit bold and having two pans bubbling on the hob at the same time, get me.

I made blackberry and apple jam, one of my all time favourite fruit flavour combinations. These two early Autumn fruits just balance each other perfectly, producing a jam that is not too sweet and full of earthy, subtly spicy flavours. It's heaven. Especially when eaten on a hot, buttered crumpet with a cup of tea.


To make it I used:

1 kilo or 2 lbs blackberries
1 kilo or 2 lbs peeled, cored and chopped apples
2 kilos or 4 lbs sugar

Pour everything into a very large jam pan (or use two pans - or less fruit) and slowly bring to the boil. Blackberries and apples are both naturally very high in pectin so there should be no need to use preserving sugar or jam sugar, or to add powdered pectin. In fact, my batch reached it's setting point pretty quickly so have your saucer in the freezer ready to check for wrinkles, it wont take long. Start checking after only five minutes or so, otherwise you may have jam with the texture of a rubber ball. This amount yielded 8 jars.

As with most jam recipes, the amounts are infinitely variable depending on what you have to hand. So long as you use the same weight in sugar as fruit, you can't go wrong.


Much more time was spent fussing with fabrics and labels in Autumnal shades. Honestly, it's a good thing I can laugh at myself.

I think I have gone off the label idea I used below. As I opened a jar to eat, I realised that once you'd dispensed with the pretty fabric jar topper, ribbon and label, you had nothing to tell you what sort of jam it was. This is why jam labels need to be stuck on to the jar - so you know what you're eating! Duh. Still, they look very pretty. And our jar was gone in two days so we were just about able to remember what sort of jam we were smearing on our toast.


52 comments:

  1. Yummy! Enjoy the fruits of your labour! Ada :)

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    1. We have been! I need to hide the rest now so I've got some Christmas presents to give people...

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  2. Looks fab. We're collecting blackberries, gradually, this week in the hope of jam making this weekend! Like you I prefer the jar decorating to the cooking. I just hope this lot sets - my rhubarb and ginger was a disaster.
    Ellie
    x

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    1. Oh, good luck with the collecting, it's the best bit I think! This lot should set but rhubarb is tricky - I always add pectin to that. x

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  3. Yum. Do you know how to make jam without sugar? or is there a way to reduce it so it's not equal quantities? My favourite jams - st dalfour from france (available in all supermarkets) are sweetened with grape juice I think.

    I'd love to learn to make jam!

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    1. I know the brand you mean, it comes in those gorgeous tall thin jars. Yes, there probably is a way to make reduced sugar jam, but I've never tried it. I guess if you removed the sugar altogether it would become more like a compote than a jam. Equally delicious but not as sweet.

      I've just googled "how to make sugar free jam" and there are lots of suggestions out there. x

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  4. That all looks amazing Gillian. I have blackberry picking planned for this weekend - hope there are loads I have some plans! X

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    1. Have fun - I hope the hedgerows round your parts are positively bursting with fruit! x

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  5. Looks delicious Gillian ... hoping to pick some at the weekend ... the pretty jars are lovely ... they will be well received as gifts ... Bee xx

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    1. Oh good, I hope so. I may try and sell a few at school fairs too - anything to bring in a little extra cash! xx

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  6. I love jam making, big pots filled with colouful fruit, promising happy days of lashings of sweetness dolloped onto toast to eat with delicious cups of tea. I love your tags, and jar lid covers. Once I used stickers i printed myself, but with lots of sticky hands reaching for the jar they stickers looked tacky quickly. Stick with your prettiness. Roberta

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    1. Thanks Roberta! I love the way you described jam - I am off to make myself some toast now! x

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  7. You've inspired me ... must have a jam session! xxx

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  8. Blackberry and Apple jam - my favourite! We're off blackberrying (that is a real word, I'm sure of it) this weekend. Can't wait!

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    1. Blackberrying is definitely a real word! Have fun! x

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  9. Yum!

    I often use small tags rather than sticky labels, but tied around the neck of the jar before any prettifying takes place, that way they'll remain in situ even when the jam's been opened.

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    1. I love your small tag idea, i may have to steal that. It makes much more sense. Thanks Annie! xx

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  10. You are lucky to have them growing wild where you live. As a child in rural New York we picked them every summer.

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    1. Hi Theresa, thanks for stopping by. I never thought of it like that, i just take it for granted that they grow at the end of every summer, but yes we are lucky to have free fruit in the hedgerows. Gillian x

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  11. It looks yummy and sounds so easy to make! Love how you decorated the jars with pretty fabric and tags...Oh, if only I were crafty!

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    1. I bet you could be crafty too! I found the tags idea on another blog - blogs are a huge source of inspiration for crafting and cooking ideas I always think. x

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  12. Sound lovely. Blackberries and apples are a great combi!

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    1. They are, aren't they? More baking is planned for the weekend on the same theme...

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  13. I love collecting blackberries, I just can't quite believe they're free I think! I've been hoarding them in the freezer, but I used quite a lot of them for a blackberry crumble this week so I need to pick some more for jam. I love your labels, they look lovely x

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    1. I know Charmaine, me neither! I think that's why I get so obsessed with picking every last one, even though my hands are scratched to shreds. Crumble is on the menu here this weekend too. x

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  14. Dear Gillian
    Your jam looks lovely - and the tops are really pretty, even if you didn't know what the jam was once they were taken off! Chris has made his first lot of blackberry jam this year, but now has a load of cherry plums and damsons to get going with. Could be a bit of a 'jammy' weekend!
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Ooh, cherry plums and damsons, yum. I love damson jam. We used to have a plum tree but it died - i still mourn it, and miss all that free fruit! x

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  15. I've never attempted jam before, but would love to challenge myself. What a great way to enjoy this glorious weather with some berry picking - you've inspired me to take the kids after school today!

    If you find yourself in London on Oct 2nd, I'd love you to join us for 'Blogger's Tea' - I think you live in GB? It would be wonderful to meet you.

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    1. Hi there - thanks for stopping by. I would love to attend something like this but sadly distance and childcare would make it impossible. Good luck though! x

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  16. Yum yum, looks delish! Really fancy a crumpet now :-) x

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    1. I could eat crumpets morning, noon and night. Love them! x

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  17. Blackberry & apple jam - yum! I love the way you've 'dressed' the jars- very pretty :)

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    1. They are very definitely "dressed", aren't they?? Maybe I need to tone it down a bit... x

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  18. Yum. Looks delicious spread on a hot crumpet like that. Your jars are so pretty, I really should make more of an effort to prettify mine.

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    1. I think I spend longer faffing with the jars than I do actually making the blooming jam! x

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  19. Oh, that jam topped crumpet is calling my name!

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    1. I could really eat on right now. Mmm, crumpets.

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  20. This looks so good! How lucky are you?? :)

    http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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  21. Mmmmmmmmm, this post has made my mouth water!! I will be going to buy crumpets tomorrow now : ) Jude xx

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    1. I am loving the crumpet love going on here! I also like mine with just butter, or marmite, cream cheese - anything really.

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  22. That's it. I'm coming to your house! I have very many happy childhood memories of blackberry picking and purple stained fingers......and your jam looks Devine! Lovely jars! Ill just invite myself over for after school muffins with blackberry jam and cream ok??

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    1. No problem. Muffins with jam and cream sounds pretty good. I'll put the kettle on.

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  23. Oh yum! I'll bet it is as delicious as it is pretty! Go you!

    rachel xo

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    1. Thanks! It's yummy. Jars have now been hidden so that they are not all eaten before Christmas comes round. x

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  24. Absolutely glorious! Blackberies are childhood memories personified! Yes, we've been picking pales full too. The local vinyards are full of them.

    Every time I visit you here I am in awe of the beauty you capture.

    Stephanie

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    1. Thank you Stephanie for such kind words. :-)

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  25. Looks wonderful! Love the labels too, I do the fabric bit, for gifts but the label finishes it off - might be copying you if you don't mind! Lot of jam and pickle making this week and next! Hope you had a good weekend and all this bonus heat too!
    Ivan

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    1. I don't mind at all - I pinched the label idea from here:

      http://sewsweetviolet.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/a-make-month-july-2012.html

      That's the beauty of blogging - all those ideas and all that creativity just flying around the place, I love it. This weekend has been wonderful, we have been blessed with such good weather.

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  26. I've really been wanting to make my own jam, but I've never done it! I think yours sounds delicious ~ maybe I'll give it a whirl next weekend.

    I love the beautiful fabrics you chose and labels you made. Enjoy!

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    1. Jam making is surprisingly easy when you know how, I hope you give it a go. x

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