In my head, making jam is the preserve (sorry) of grown-ups. It is the sort of thing that you learn just by turning 40. Which unfortunately didn’t happen for me.
It is one of those things that I love to watch people do on Bake Off. Kitchen science carried out by highly skilled people.
It is also one of those things that people seem to usually do in bulk. This might just be nature of how my dad makes jam -delicious smelling vats on the cooker producing 20 jars at a time. But it has always seemed a bit scary to me, particularly as I am not scientific, or precise.
However, I have recently discovered you can make a small amount of jam, one or two jars at a time. This is a revelation.
Now, I’ve not yet been invited to join the WI, and I don’t expect to be on Bake Off any time soon, but my new discovery has been awesome. I have learned that I can pretty much do this with any soft fruit – strawberries, blackberries, maybe even a combination. I can make it fancy or keep it really simple. And now I have another deceptively simple humble brag that I can add to my list of domestic skills.
Of course, I’m sure this isn’t the proper way to make jam. It doesn’t involve jelly pans or special thermometers. But it does taste bloody lovely on toast with peanut butter, on porridge, on yoghurt, even stirred into gravy. It also looks like the most thoughtful gift ever if you pop a ribbon and handwritten label on it.
Here is my quick and easy recipe, not authentic, but still good. It is even better if you have managed to pick the blackberries on an autumn walk. Double points.
Simple Apple and Blackberry Jam
300g (about 2 punnets) of blackberries
250g cooking apples ( about 2 middle sized cooking apples. Peel and chop into small pieces, about the size of a berry)
500g granulated sugar
Juice of a lemon
Put empty jam jars through the dishwasher to clean and sterilise.
Put a saucer or ramekin into the freezer.
Put the chopped apples, juice of a lemon and water into a large pan (my biggest pan from the set of 3 cooking pots works fine). Simmer gently until soft, usually about 5 minutes.
Add the blackberries. Simmer for about 10 minutes, mashing the berries with the back of a wooden spoon. (This is very satisfying)
Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the sugar and stir.
Return to gentle heat, stirring until all the sugar crystals have fully dissolved.
Bring to the boil and boil hard for 2-3 minutes.
Test if the jam is ready by spooning a small amount onto the saucer/ ramekin that was in the freezer. Allow to cool and do the crinkle test to see if it is ready. (It is really hot at this point so be careful not to splash)
If the jam is too runny for your liking, boil for another 2 minutes and check again. I like it runny personally.
When you are happy with the consistency, remove from the heat.
Use a clean slotted spoon (or similar) to remove any of the weird scum that has formed on the surface of the jam.
Ladle into your clean jam jars.
Store in the fridge and eat within two weeks. (It never lasts that long in our house)