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September 16, 2011

More Autumn Activities – Making Jelly and Jam

by Val Reynolds
Blackberries

Blackberries

I can remember our mother telling us ‘If you get out there and fetch some blackberries, I’ll make some jelly’. We returned hot, scratched and with purple fingers. It was worth it though when we had the luscious jelly on bread and butter. We were also given it in a warm drink by the fire before we went to bed on cold winter nights. Yum. It was such a strong memory that when I was offered a cutting from a thornless blackberry I was over the moon.

A most undemanding plant, the himalayan blackberry was easy to get to grow well and now needs very little attention apart from cutting out dead fronds after fruiting and tieing in new growth. We have had more than 40lbs this year – possibly reflecting the generous dose of manure we gave it last winter. We decided to make blackberry jelly using the Certo recipe, which takes 3lbs of berries. The longest bit is the straining through a jelly bag that takes ages but resisting the impulse to squeeze it is hard the resulting jelly is worth it, clear and delicious, melting sensually in the mouth.

Certo also give a recipe for Blackberry and Elderberry Jelly which we will try next year. Should be interesting – did you know vast quantities of elderberries were shipped down the river Dordogne to Bordeaux to add extra tannin to their wines? Not sure whether they still do it but it’s an interesting piece of information for a winemaker!

And we experimented with Plum and Apple Jam which turned out fine. The texture is thicker than straight jam, but it stays on the bread more easily! Certo certainly takes away the agony of boiling hard with the chance of burning the jam, a taste I remember well from my childhood.

We use the Lakeland recipe for our Blackberry Chutney. It’s a flexible recipe that you can experiment with if you have other ingredients to spare.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped finely
3 cm fresh ginger finely chopped
2 chopped red chillies, remove the seeds for safety’s sake
1lb blackberries
45g sugar
30ml red wine vinegar
Heat oil in heavy based saucepan
Add in onion, ginger and chilli
Fry gently for 4-5 minutes until softened
Add blackberries and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring
Add sugar and vinegar, mixing well
Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened.
Whilst still hot, spoon the chutney into hot, sterilised jars and seal

They obviously suggest you use Lakeland jars, or even their Kilner jars, but we re-use jam and pickle jars which work well, just check the seals are clean and undamaged. Otherwise you could use the waxed disks and cellophane covers using elastic bands that are usually available at this time of year

We didn’t have huge success with wine from our grapes in the past few years and instead made grape jelly last year. Unusual perhaps, but clearly possible! There’s a recipe is on the Certo website. The grapes gave a lot of juice and so we still have rather a lot of jelly left. Not sure what to do with this year’s grapes, I’ll look for ideas on the web.

Lucy Cozzey, Contributing author

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