Tag Archives: Jam

First jam of the season!

Last year I was lucky enough to be able to make many jars of blackcurrant jam with the bountiful berries harvested from the bushes in my sister’s garden. Unfortunately, as my sister no longer lives at that house, my blackcurrant picking this summer was not to be. Not to be thwarted, I have been keeping my eyes open for berries growing wild. I have my eyes on a vacant lot with loads of blackberry bushes which I am hoping will bear loads of fruit, as blackberry is my favourite jam of all!

Last night, on my way to work, I spotted a tangle of wild raspberry bushes and decided to pick some on my way home. Unfortunately, it was quite dark and I had to pick what I could without being able to see much. I planned to make jam using them along with the pears and plums I had in the fridge.

Sadly, on seeing the raspberries in the light, they were pretty rank and couldn’t be used. Not to be deterred, I pressed ahead and made pear and plum jam (sans raspberries) instead. I was a little worried it wouldn’t set properly, as I don’t add pectin, instead relying on the pectin naturally present in the fruit.

Fortunately, the jam did set and although it’s a little sweet for my personal tastes (it could do with being just a touch more tart), it’s pretty tasty. As you can see from the photo, I got just shy of four jars filled. I look forward to trying some on a slice of toast, or perhaps a home-made scone!

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At the weekend, we discovered that my sister had squillions of blackcurrants ready to pick in her garden. Since she doesn’t like blackcurrants and I’m no fan of eating them as a fruit, something had to be done. There was NO way we were leaving them all to rot on the bush or get picked over by the birds, so I came to the conclusion that I had to learn to make jam. Immediately.

So we picked 6 lbs of blackcurrants and then figured we could, in good conscience, leave the rest to wildlife as there was just no way on the planet we could pick them all (we were literally just reaching into the bushes and stripping off handfuls of berries, some almost the size of grapes!).

During my quick research, I discovered that blackcurrants are naturally high in pectin, so I wouldn’t need to add any. All I needed was the fruit, sugar and water – I was assured that I could not possibly fail with blackcurrants as it ALWAYS sets. This made me feel a whole lot more confident, as I’ve never made jam, and I hadn’t seen anyone make it since I was a very small child!

I knew I had to make the jam in several batches, as none of my pans were big enough to deal with all 6 lbs of berries, plus the water, plus the sugar that was required. Just as well, really, or I might have risked ruining the entire lot!

The first simple recipe I found called for 2 lbs of blackcurrants, 3 lbs of sugar and 1.5 pints of water. I found this recipe rather too sweet for my tastes and the jam set extremely thick, so I decided to tweak it a little. The second batch had 2 lbs of fruit, 2 lbs of sugar, 1.5 pints of water and 1 tbsp of lemon juice. This tasted way better. The third batch was made with 2tbsp of lemon juice, but I found this made no significant difference to it (although I have a marginal preference for the second batch, the recipe for which is below).

Kell’s Simplest Possible Blackcurrant Jam
Ingredients:
(makes 4 x 1lb jars jam)

  • 2 lbs blackcurrants
  • 2 lbs white granulated sugar
  • 1.5 pints water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Simmer the blackcurrants in the water for around 45 minutes till the fruit is soft.
  2. Add lemon juice and sugar.
  3. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes and test to see if it will set (drop a little on a refrigerated plate – if it wrinkles when you push it around, then it’s ready!)
  4. Pour into still-hot sterilised jars (boil jars and lids for 10 minutes) and seal immediately if using screw tops, or top with wax paper disks and let it cool before sealing with cellophane toppers.

The jam should be kept in a cool, dry place (and refrigerated after opening) and should b good for 6-12 months.

I plan to go back to my sister’s house to pick all her blackberries for jam when they’re ripe, and a colleague of my hubby knows where there are cherry plums almost ready for picking. I can see my jam-making continuing for many years to come!

Oh, and I’ll be getting hold of a jam funnel ASAP, as I made a bit of a mess trying to pour the jam int othe jars!

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