I’ve always loved blackberries. They remind me of my childhood in Enfield when I used to go blackberrying in Epping Forest with my mother and grandmother on sunny September afternoons, my grandmother expertly hooking the upper branches with a walking stick to reach the ripest berries. Jars of jam and a freezer full of fruit pies helped preserve these harvests.
With all the hedgerows around Barnet there are plenty of blackberries and you might also have them growing in your garden – we have a couple of bushes that yield loads. I absolutely adore the flavour, but find the pips a bit much at times, so bramble jelly is an ideal way of preserving this fruit.
You can see from the picture that you can easily end up with quite a firm set. Next time I’ll reduce the boiling time for a softer result and trust my thermometer, rather than the wrinkle test on a chilled saucer. However, it was wonderful – pure, vibrant flavour and jewel-like appearance. (I’m very naughty and love it with French fleur de sel salted butter.)
Here is the recipe I use from Basic Basics: Jams, Preserves and Chutneys by Marguerite Patten.
You will also need a jelly bag or muslin and sterilised jam jars.
Wash the blackberries, put into a large pan with the water and simmer gently until very soft. Press the fruit from time to time to release the juice.
Strain through a jelly bag or muslin. For clear, pristine juice, it is important to allow it to drip through as gently as possible. I left mine overnight.
Measure the juice and allow 450g sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice for each 600ml juice. Heat the juice, add the sugar and lemon juice and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Then boil rapidly until setting point is reached (104°C), checking frequently.
Pour the jelly into hot jars and seal down.