Monday 25 August 2014

Bramble Jelly Jam

Following our Family Foraging Foray, Bramble Jelly Jam was definitely on the agenda.

The last time we foraged I had a go at making Blackberry Jam, but wasn't that impressed with it.  It was just too 'pippy'. It was definitely time to up the ante and have a go at making a jelly instead, which I knew would be a bit more effort, but hoped it would be worth it.

There are loads of different recipes for Bramble Jelly on the Internet, with lots of conflicting information, especially when it comes to the pectin content of blackberries.  This is really important as not enough pectin and your jelly won't set.  Too much and it will be too firm.

There were so many recipes and so much differing information that I got a bit overwhelmed with choosing which one to go with.

In the end, I reverted to a book on preserving that a good friend had given Martin for Christmas a number of years ago and this is what we did.

Makes sufficient jelly to fill 7 small jars
There are 3 distinct stages to making this jelly
Stage 1 - Preparing the juice for the jelly - takes about 1 and 1/2 hours
Stage 2 - Straining the juice - 3-4 hours
Stage 3 - Making the jelly and bottling - 1 hour

1.35kg/3lb blackberries, washed
Juice & pips of 2 large lemons
Sufficient water to cover the fruit when in the pan
Approx 1kg preserving sugar

  • Stage 1 - Put the fruit, lemon juice & pips in a large pan. Pour over just enough water to cover, we added about 1.2 litres. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 1 hour.
  • Stage 2 - Mash the fruit and leave to cool slightly.  Pour into a scalded jelly bag suspended over a non-metallic bowl and leave to drain.  You can leave to drain overnight, but we found ours had fully drained within 3-4 hours.  Do not squeeze the bag, to speed up the process, as this will make your jelly cloudy.
  • Stage 3 - Place a small plate in the freezer to help with testing when your jelly has reached setting point.
  • Measure the strained juice into a preserving pan.  It is really important that you use a large enough pan, as when boiling, the liquid will rise rapidly in the pan.  If your pan is too small your liquid will either boil over, or will not reach the temperature required to set.  Add 450g/1lb preserving sugar for every 600ml/1 pint of strained fruit juice. We had 1.2 litres of juice, so added 900g of sugar.
  • Heat the mixture, stirring, over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for 10-15 minutes, or until the jelly reaches setting point (105C).  You will need to watch the mixture constantly as when boiling there is the danger it may overflow, though if you turn it down the temperature will not reach setting point.  We boiled our jelly for about 30 minutes before it reached this point.
  • You can test whether your jelly has reached setting point by placing a drop onto the plate that you put into the freezer earlier.  If at setting point the mixture will ripple when pushed with your finger.
  • Once your jelly has reached setting point then remove the pan from the heat and skim off any scum, using a slotted spoon.  Ladle into warmed sterilised jars and seal.  Leave to cool, then label and store.
Definitely not as easy as making Strawberry Jam, but well worth the effort.  We have a really tasty silky Blackberry Jelly that we will be enjoying well into the Winter months.

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