Over the past few weeks I have been slowly filling my freezer with an absolute mountain of blackberries, I'm up to about 4kg now. I'm lucky enough to live a short walk from a massive supply of them and it's become a bit of an obsession to head on up there with my wellies on and wade waist deep into the brambles. I quickly discovered that the best ones grew off the beaten track and if I was going to get to them then I had to put up with being prickled a little bit! I found that a plastic 4-pint milk bottle was the best thing to collect them in as there is less chance of dropping the lot when a sudden thorn in the hand makes you jump. I tried using a plastic carrier bag but they get caught and rip. I've lived here for 7 years and it's the first time I had thought of going to pick any! What a waste. It doesn't appear that I have had much competition for them either, apart from the birds. So what have I done with my haul?
This is the first thing I made. I discovered this Cider Crumble Slice recipe on the Caked Crusader blog a few weeks ago. I was intrigued by a cake with so little butter and made with cider and made it straight away. The mixture looks strange but oh my word, it is one of the best desserts I have ever eaten (added smugness points for making it myself!) It is still nice cold, but it's best when it's still warm and served with cream or custard. Mmmmmmm! As a variation on the original I made it with blackberries instead of the raisins and used an Apple and Blackcurrant cider made by Rekorderlig. I thought the cake might turn out a bit purple but it didn't.
Secondly I made some jam! I've only made jam once before and it was a disaster. I found a proper jam pan from the car boot sale for £4 but it was finding some jars that caused me the most headache. I ended up going to Ikea twice to get some of these. Never believe the online stock checker! For giving away jam as gifts the Ikea jars are a little bit big so I need to find some smaller ones before my next batch. The recipe was one I got from The Cottage Smallholder. It was full of handy tips about sterilising the jars and setting the jam and the blog owner has helpfully replied to her blog comments so it is well worth reading if you are new to jam making like I am. It gave me just a little more confidence.
I put 1kg of blackberries with about 400g of bramley apples (also bought from the car boot for 40p for a big bag)
I cooked them till the apple was soft. This smells absolutely gorgeous!
I don't like any seeds in my jam so I passed the mixture through a sieve, once through the one above and then through a finer one. I wish I had a food mill! It took ages.
Then you are left with this. I weighed the juice and pulp and it came to 1.480kg so I added the same amount in sugar along with the juice of one lemon.
Then it was time for the cooking! I didn't get chance to take any more pictures after that as it was a bit manic getting cold saucers out of the fridge and wondering if it had reached setting point or not. I think I overset it just a little bit but not so much that you need a knife and fork to cut it. Then there was the juggling of hot jars and hot jam. The kitchen has never been in such a mess! We had some of the jam for breakfast and it was lovely. I'm so pleased with it. Yay, I made jam!
I'm hoping to make some blackberry vodka as well but am having a bit of trouble sourcing some empty bottles. Beer and jam making supplies seem so expensive. It's not too bad if you are keeping it for yourself but if you are wanting to give some away you lose the jar or bottle and it's worth more than the contents. I think I have been too efficient with my recycling and should have saved some empties.
My yarny mojo is still missing. Beginning to wonder if it will ever come back.