Homemade Blackberry and Apple Jam

Take advantage of British hedgerow harvests by picking some fresh blackberries and making this delicious, not-too-sweet blackberry and apple jam!

blackberry and apple jam

Good news! It’s finally blackberry picking season. There is an absolutely huge blackberry bush near us and I’ve been out harvesting. The cold spring this year means that blackberries are taking a little longer than usual to ripen. However, now those juicy, purple berries are starting to appear on the brambles and that means it’s jam time again!

Not as sweet as strawberries, as pretty as raspberries, or as hip as blueberries, blackberries are an underappreciated berry. They’re a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K, contain antioxidants and anthocyanins which promote heart health, and provide your body with fibre, copper, and manganese.

It is a wonder, then, that we don’t take more advantage of them. Brambles and blackberry bushes make up the English countryside: it isn’t unusual to stumble upon sprawling hedgerows studded with deep purple dots.

Maybe their sidelined existence is due to the curious English folklore that surrounds the blackberry. Folklore says that Lucifer landed in brambles after being cast out of heaven and so he cursed them. Blackberries picked after 11th October (Old Michaelmas Day) have been cursed by the devil and so they shouldn’t be eaten. Another folktale says passing under bramble branches will cure a number of ailments. Some traditions state that Christ’s crown of thorns was made from brambles and so the blackberry’s rich wine colour represents the blood of Christ. And if you’re thinking of using any part of the Blackberry plant for protective magic, it should be gathered during the waning moon.

But folklore aside, blackberries make a really delicious and easy jam. Jam should be one of those things that everyone has a go at making once in their lives. With a good recipe, it can be quite simple.

It can be a bit fiddly when you’re faced with pectin and jam sugar and thermometers. Soft fruits, like strawberries, don’t contain high amounts of pectin, so will need added acid like lemon juice, or the addition of a fruit with high levels of pectin, like apples. In this blackberry and apple jam recipe, apple and lemon juice is added to the blackberries to give a spreadable, but not too thick, jam set. Each fruit is different so I’d recommend googling it first, rather than just substituting the fruits in this recipe.

There’s a few sure-fire tests to make sure the jam will set. The best one I’ve found is the frozen plate test. When you think it’s ready, just add a spoonful of jam onto a plate that’s been in the freezer, let it cool, then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles, it’s ready, if it doesn’t, boil it up again for a couple more minutes, then repeat the test.

For jam, my advice is, be brave! Have faith in the jam: my downfall with jam is thinking, ‘one more minute’. This isn’t cake or biscuits- once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. You can’t save it with icing sugar. But if you follow this recipe, and follow the test, you should be completely fine, and you’ll be adding homemade jam to your jam tarts in no time!

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HomeBlackberry and Apple Jam

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: approximately 1.5kg (about 4 12oz jars)

Take advantage of British hedgerow harvests by picking some fresh blackberries and making this delicious, not-too-sweet blackberry and apple jam!

Ingredients

  • 600g blackberries
  • 400g Bramley apples
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 100ml water
  • 1kg granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Before you begin, put a couple of small plates into the freezer. These will be used later to test the set of the jam. Sterilise jam jars by washing thoroughly in hot, soapy water and dry with a clean cloth. Place them on a baking tray and into the oven preheated to 100C/210F/Gas ½, and heat for about fifteen minutes.
  2. Prepare the fruit. Wash the blackberries by running them under some cold water. Peel and chop the apples into small chunks.
  3. In a large, heavy based saucepan, add the blackberries, apples, lemon juice, and water. Heat over a medium-low heat until the mixture begins bubble, then simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fruit is soft.
  4. Tip in the sugar and stir slowly to dissolve. To check if it’s dissolved, coat the back of a spoon with the juice and if it is smooth, the sugar is dissolved. This step can take up to ten minutes so be patient, and don’t be tempted to turn up the heat! Keep the sugar from sticking to the sides by using a brush dipped in water to brush it off the sides and back into the jam mixture.
  5. When the sugar is dissolved, bring to a rolling boil and let it bubble away for 10 minutes, without stirring. (If you are using a jam thermometer, it will need to reach 105°c). Remove from the heat, then remove one of the plates from the freezer. Add a spoonful of the jam to the plate and cool for about 30 seconds. Push the jam with your finger: if it wrinkles up, the jam is ready. If it doesn’t, return to the heat and boil for a further two minutes. Repeat, until the jam is set.
  6. Once it’s ready, cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then ladle into the sterilised jars. Seal with brand new lids to create a airtight seal. If you’re using pre-used lids, place a circle of wax paper directly on top of the jam. Wet a piece of cellophane with a drop of water, then place this, wet side up, on top of the jar and seal with a rubber band. ▪

Once sealed, jam can last up to six months in a cool place.

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