Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Recipe: Blackberry and Apple Jam

I was lucky enough to grow up in a semi-rural village in Somerset. Not a pretty village I hasten to add, but still one surrounded by orchards.  My grandfather would pay me a one pound to pick the fallen apples off his lawn each weekend and my Nan would whip up a plethora of comforting apple filled puddings for Sunday lunch "afters."

My parents didn't have any fruit trees in their garden, but our driveway was in the shadow of a large, apparently fruitless, tree. After seeing no sign of blossoms or fruit for over a decade, the tree surprised us all one year by sprouting a bumper crop of cherry plums (clearly making up for lost time). The plums were lovely and sweet, but soon our drive was covered in their slippery skins as they slowly rotted... So to combat the tsunami of fallen fruit my mum decided to make jam.
What followed was our kitchen being full of empty sugar packets and saucepans bubbling for weeks. My mother slaved away. And yet not a single batch of jam set. All the plums simply become oversweetened slop.

This year I decided that jam-making inability couldn't possibly be inherited... So I grabbed my gardening gloves, and dragged hubby off blackberry picking.

It turns out that jam is very easy to make if you're sensible. Silly Mum.

Blackberry and Apple Jam
1kg of blackberries
750g green apples (cooking, about 6 peeled & cored)
1.5kg caster sugar
125ml water
1 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of nutmeg

1. Carefully wash all your blackberries to remove any dirt or bugs that might be hiding in them. We found a few tiny worms so check them carefully!
2. Chop up the apples into small chunks. The smaller the better as they'll cook-through faster, but if they are uneven in size the jam will have a more varied texture.
3. Cook the apples in the largest saucepan you have with the water until they ate sift. Add seasoning and berries.
4. Stir carefully until all fruit is combined and berries start to break down.  Gradually add sugar.
5. As the sugar heats up the mixture will start to spit - be careful. Hot sugar hurts! Do not cover but stir regularly until jam is ready. Test by dipping a tea spoon partly into the mix. Blow on the spoon to cool it. If a skin forms then the jam is ready, if not keep cooking!
6. Carefully ladle jam into sterilized jars and seal.

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