Fancy some foraging? Bramble is the best free food...
Blackberry or bramble... Love them or hate them? In my garden they are a BIG nuisance, terribly invasive they've overtaken the edges of the garden and each year they creep further towards the house. Much as I dislike them at home, in the hedgerow on my leisurely stroll to work they are different, Here they are an abundant gift from Mother Nature which will provide all sorts of treats when teamed with the thousands of apples that have come off my tree this year.
Blackberries are a pretty big family with more than 375 species. It’s been a difficult year for them. A lot of varieties need chill hours (to set fruit), but some didn’t get enough of the cool temperatures - just above or below freezing - an important cue to plants to produce flowers and fruit. Still they survived. Bramble roots go down over 3 feet so they are good at maintaining water supply hence their firm foothold in my garden. Still, the mixture of a harsh winter and the heat wave has stressed the plants this year. This probably explains why the ones on my route are all very tiny this year and a lot of effort to pick. Good job they are worth it.
So back in the kitchen, thus far we have enjoyed blackberry and apple crumble, blackberry pie and I even added some to my crab apple jelly this year for a bit of a change. To keep us going for the year though Bramble Jelly is the next recipe on the list. Here's the recipe if you would like to do a little foraging too...
Cooking time: about 50 minutes
2lbs (900g) blackberries
2lbs (900g) apples
2 pints (1.2lt) water Jam sugar – you will know the quantity when you know how much juice you have.
A knob of butter
1. Rinse the apples, cut each one up into about 8 pieces skins and all – you don’t have to be neat and put them into a preserving pan.
2. Add the blackberries and the water.
3. Put on a very low heat, until everything has gone mushy, stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes.
4. Mash it all. Sieve it; do not push it through the sieve, let it go through of its own accord. I would leave it in the sieve for at least an hour.
5. Once you have your juice, measure it. For each pint (570ml) add 1lb (450g) of sugar.
6. Put this liquid on a very low heat allowing the sugar to dissolve, stirring all the time.
7. When the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up and boil until setting point*.
8. Add a knob of butter to disperse the bubbly stuff on the top.
9. Pour into warmed jars** and put the lids on straight away as this will create a vacuum that helps to preserve the jelly.
* Setting point
You can tell when you are at setting point by placing a few drops of jam onto a saucer. After it has cooled blow it, or push with the point of a teaspoon and if it wrinkles up you have reached setting point
** Sterilising jars (the easy way)
First of all heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas Wash the jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Place the jars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to dry completely. About 10 minutes
If using Kilner jars, boil the rubber seals, as dry heat damages them. Spoon or pour the hot jam into the hot jars and seal with the lid. Leave to cool.
For a printable copy click here Bramble Jelly
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