The Summer has been beautiful, but sadly it is drawing to a close.
These last few wonderfully warm and sunny days have been a treat, but I must confess, I do enjoy Autumn too.
Those fresh, crisp mornings as we leave the house for work and school.
The newly spun cobwebs that twinkle with the morning dew upon them, and the huge spiders that are trying to sneak into the warmth of indoors,
and of course, the bountiful finds of Autumn fruit too.
I have a small blackberry bush which I planted a couple of years ago and this year has produced quite a decent little crop of fruit.
We also spent a fun afternoon foraging for wild blackberries, and a friend gave me a bag full of some extra brambles and cooking apples.
So, I sat and pondered what I could do with these little black jewels that gleamed at me from the bowl
and jam sprang to mind.
This is such a simple recipe to make and the wonderfully sweet, deep crimson reward is well worth the effort.
You will need :
1.3kg / 3 lb blackberries, washed
2 large cooking apples, washed, cored and diced
450ml / 3/4 pint water
1 lemon, juice only
preserving or granulated sugar
2-3 tbsp creme de cassis
sterilised jam jars and pot covers
1. Prepare a jelly bag or tea towel by boiling in water for 2-3 minutes. Wring well and leave to cool.
Arrange the jelly bag on a stand or an up-turned stool with a large bowl beneath, ready to drip through.
2 Place the blackberries, apple, water and lemon juice into a preserving pan, or large heavy bottomed saucepan.
3. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the fruit is completely soft.
4. Tip the soft fruit and juice into the jelly bag and leave to drip for around 8 hours or until all the juice has drained.
I tend to leave mine overnight.
Take care here as the fruit and juice is very hot and will splash.
5. Prepare the jam jars by washing in hot soapy water and leaving to dry in a just warm oven.
I set mine to around 90c for 10-15 minutes.
6. Measure the juice.
For every 100ml you will need 75g of sugar.
Put the wonderfully thick, gloopy purple juice and sugar into the clean preserving pan, heat over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved, and add the creme de casiss.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until setting point is reached.
I look for a rolling boil on the liquid and then start timing the mixture.
This indicates that you have reached the optimum temperature for the setting point to eventually be achieved.
To check for setting point, pop a saucer into the fridge and allow it to cool.
Drop a small blob of the jam mixture onto the cooled plate and wait about 30 seconds.
Next gently push the jam with your fingertip.
If it crinkles up, you can see it has set.
If the jam is still quite liquid you need to keep boiling, etc.
7. Skim away any scum from the top of the jelly and fill the jam jars up to the brim.
Cover, seal and label.
This is the really fun bit - you can get some amazing fabrics to make covers, pretty ribbons and you can get very creative with the labels.
I found these labels which are free to download.
Store in a cool, dark place, and this will keep for approx. 6 months.
I have made quite a few jars of this black nectar.
I have some of it ear marked as gifts for lovely people, and the rest we shall scoff on scones or toast.
I hope you get the opportunity to try this recipe with your foraging finds
and until next time, enjoy your day.