Come beginning of spring, I get antsy like a squirrel in front of its depleting nuts reserve : the count down to September starts as it is only then when I will be able to make a fresh batch of blackberry jam. You’ll think, why tease us with a recipe we won’t be able to make before another 5 to 6 months ? Well, because there is preliminary work to be done ! Finding your wild blackberry spots is the name of the game : you want them accessible enough not to get too many scratches in the process, but hidden enough not to be within everybody’s reach; sunny enough so that you can get beautiful ripe fruits, but not overexposed for they would get dry; also, make a mental note to pray for some rain, to get juicy fruits… Once nature played its part, you can play yours. This is how it goes :
- Wild blackberries of your picking. I hate to be a moodkiller but after extensive market study, I have never seen blackberries I bought to have the same taste as the one we pick ourselves.
- Match the weight of the fruit with the same weight of sugar. You can find sugar that is specific to jams.
- A little of your sweat ( this is needed for the picking )
- Kids come in handy for the picking : we used to do this as a competition of who would bring the more blackberries
- Empty jam jars, a mill (to remove chunks and seeds once the jam is cooked )
Jam recipes are pretty straightforward, there are just a couple of things to bear in mind to make it work : do not be stingy on the sugar as it is what preserves the fruits. The cooking allows a certain amount of water to evaporate, and prevents the fermentation of the fruits. Do not go for brown sugar as the taste is not the same and it can ferment. The cooking is best in a copper pan, if you have one.
- Clean your blackberries, put them in a big preserving pan to rest for at least 12 hours with sugar. They will give out juice.
- Bring to the boil then let it cook for about 20 minutes. You can check if it’s enough by taking a little spoon of jam on a clean plate and see if it sets.
- Remove the foam, use a mill to remove the seeds and hard chunks if any and get a smooth texture.
- Clean the jars and lids : boil them for about 10 minutes, then dry them with a clean cloth. You want them extra dry as humidity is not your friend.
- Use a funnel to fill your jars, or your experts hands and a ladle. Once the jars are filled, close the lids and let them to rest upside down so that they become airtight.
Eat with bread, yogurts….
Recipe from our family books