Sunday, 21 August 2011

Blackberry & Apple Jam

During a brief stay in Sandwich, Kent our B&B had an orchard and the trees were laden full of fruit, so much so that the apple trees branches were breaking under the strain. With an invitation and a bag I headed down to the bottom of the garden and picked the most beautiful ripe eating apples and crab apples I had ever seen. This year has been the best for apples and I kept thinking of the Kent countryside providing all the London markets and how lucky I was to be getting these for free. Today I made some jam for my upcoming farmers market.
The crab apples were a bright crimson inside and produced a beautiful colour and tart flavour, a perfect partner for the blackberries. They are also high in pectin so really great for jam making.

Sterilise jars and dry them in a warm oven. 

For the Jam I used 405g of crab apples / 900g blackberries / 1350 sugar / 1/4 pint water / squeeze of lemon over the apples.


1) Prepare fruit. Peel and core the apples. Wash the blackberries.
2) Soften the fruit with half the water for each pan (apples in separate pan as harder than the blackberries).
3) Combine both fruits in larger pan along with the sugar. Dissolve the sugar.
4) Bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for approx 15 minutes. Stirring frequently.
5) Check setting is reached by spooning a little on a plate and checking for wrinkles when pushed lightly with your finger.
6) Pour into your sterilised jam jars. Use a wax disc and seal.

Utensils used to make this jam:
1) Large pan (ex lobster pot) depending on how much you make. But you need at least half of the pan empty as the jam will bubble up the sides during the open boiling process.
2) Two small pans to soften and reduce the fruit.
3) Jam jars washed in warm soapy water, rinsed in warm water, dried in the oven. Keep warm for when you pour the hot jam in.
4) Wooden spoon for stirring
5) Ladel for pouring into metal jug.
6) Saucer for testing setting point
7) Wax discs (I used waxed parchment paper and cut into circles)
8) Wet tea towel to wipe any drips
9) Labels & ties to mark your date of production.

Top tips you might find useful:
1) Preparation really is key. Make sure you have all your jars ready and you are using the right equipment. Nothing worse than trying to pour hot jam into jars without the right utensils. Metal jug is good for pouring.
2) If you run out of sugar you can use brown, honey or golden syrup but be aware this will change the flavour/colour. I had to use a bit of billington brown and you can taste notes of caramalised/molasses.
3) 1b = 450 grams 
4) Check your fruit is high in pectin or else you will need to add lemon juice or citric acid (can obtain from pharmacy). Don't throw away the peel or core of the crab apples - you can use this to make pectin.
5) Keep stirring so your jam doesn't stick or burn to the bottom of the pan.
6) Be patient for setting point to be reached. It took about 10 minutes of rolling boil. You can use a sugar thermometer (i didn't have one). Should reach around 105C for setting. 
7) Two stages to note: First is softening and reducing the fruit before the sugar is added and second is to dissolve the sugar well off the heat and then return to the heat and boil rapidly, whilst stirring until setting is reached. 
8) Over boil means rock hard jam and under boil means runny jam (or preserve). In France, we had some beautiful preserves for breakfast and they were all quite runny. So whatever the consistency enjoy on toast!

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