Anyway, I was aware that it about the time of year for blackberry picking. I have great memories of picking blackberries with my parent when I was a kid. So, I took myself and Alf (the puppy) off to the local common, where I knew there were vast expanses of brambles and where, a few years ago, the boyfriend and I had a very productive blackberry picking session. Unfortunately this year was no where near as profitable. I don't know if I was too early, too late or if it has just not been a good year for blackberries. I came home with about 200 grams, which probably wasn't enough for making a decent amount of jam.
So, the following day I decided a trip into the New Forest, my childhood blackberry picking ground, was in order. Plus I really love walking Alf in the forest, he enjoys it so much. I took my camera along and took a few pictures in between picking berries and getting caught in brambles.
|The New Forest on a rather grey but still rather warm day|
|Alf found a great big wet, muddy puddle to run around in|
|New Forest Ponies|
The forest wasn't actually that much more profitable on the blackberry front, but it was so nice to get out with Alf and have a walk in the peace and quite, with practically no other people. I'm quite specific about picking berries, which probably slightly reduced my haul. I don't like to take too many from one spot, I'd rather pick a few from a bush as a walk past, you need to leave some for the wildlife! I got a fair few injuries too, several pricked fingers, a couple of splinters and a very prickled calf :/
Due to the low fruit yield, and the fact that I had definitely decided I wanted to make jam, I made a quick trip to the supermarket to buy some supplementary blackberries, as well as sugar and pectin, which I also needed. The recipe is not mine to share, I suggest you buy Queen of Crafts as a most excellent guide, but here are some pictures of my jam making fun :)
|Berries; washed and draining (the redder ones came in the supermarket packs)|
|Sugar and Jam (sorry, bit blurry)|
|Berries in water (that spoon ended up very purple)|
|Really hot, boiling jam!|
It was actually really quite easy to make, which I was surprised about. The instructions in the Queen of Crafts book are really simple and easy to follow (but you'll have to buy it to find out how I did it!). I did have a slight issue, having ladled it into jars and leaving it to cool for a while, it was pretty clear to me that it wasn't going to set. Having discussed with my mum, I decided to empty the jars back into the pan to boil for longer and, apparently, lemon juice (plus extra sugar to offset the sourness) helps in getting the pectin to set. Fortunately, after a second boil, with lemon juice, the mixture looked a lot more jammy. I put it all back into jars (unfortunately it had decreased in volume, down from 4 jars full to 3 and a third), sealed and left to cool overnight. Joy of joys, this morning I most definitely had jam :)
I also impressed myself with my resourcefulness as, not owning a funnel and not wanting to get covered in hot, sticky jam, I cut the top off a Pepsi bottle, which served as a fine makeshift funnel!
There was just one final step, dressing the jars up! I have a large quantity of fabric that I have accumulated for non-specific uses, and picked a heart print fabric to make lid covers. I cut out what I thought were reasonably size circles, but when I put them on the jars they were too large and looked a little silly, so I had to trim them up while still on the jars :/ I hope they don't look too scrappy now. I also made labels, I tried making labels by hand, but just couldn't produce anything I really liked, so I turned to my computer, and knocked up some pretty funky labels that I think suit me and my jam down to the ground :p
|Betty's Blackberry Bomb Jam|
I'm really very happy with the outcome. I did a fair amount of tasting during cooking and it was really very, very yummy :) I'm not much of one for jam on toast, so I think I'm going to have to whip up some scones or jammy dodgers or something else that I can include jam in!
Hope you are having a good weekend,
Keep on Jammin'