52 Cookbooks #38: Spiced Blackberry Jam

So having foraged some blackberries the race began on how to use them. I'd pondered pairing them with some apples but decided to add walnuts to my apple crumble instead -

see 52 Cookbooks #37: Apple & Walnut Crumble

I thought about an apple and blackberry upside down cake, but we already had the crumble and some apple compote for breakfast, so I wasn't sure when we'd find time to eat cake as well...

52 Cookbooks: the challenge is to cook a new recipe from one of my (many) cookbooks each week for a year...

52 Cookbooks: the challenge is to cook a new recipe from one of my (many) cookbooks each week for a year...

Obviously though, we'd try our best...

I wanted something that would last longer and decided some jam would be just the thing, so I turned to this lovely book - 100 jams, jellies, preserves & pickles by Gloria Nicol, which I'd dropped very heavy hints about and MOH bought for me.

You know the sort of husband "hints" that go something like "I'd really like this book" followed by "you could buy it for me for x."  That generally tends to work... but is often greeted with a "but x is months away yet" response. 

So jam it was. And a spiced one at that.

The foraged blackberries went into the saucepan with a cinnamon stick, two star anise and three cloves, plus two tablespoons of water (to prevent the berries catching on the bottom).  The smells were divine!


The berries cooked down and I used the back of a spoon to mash them further. At this point in the recipe it was optional to sieve the liquid. As the pips were putting me off a crumble or a cake I knew for the jam to stand any chance of being opened, those pips had to go. So strain it I did - and it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be.

The juice went back in the pan with two tablespoons of lemon juice and 700g of sugar. I used preserving sugar which looks (but doesn't taste) like rock salt - I checked!


With all the sugar dissolved it was time to head for a rapid boil. The colours as it started to boil were amazing, as was the smell...


I was nervous about knowing when I'd reached the setting point - I used the cold saucer method - but each time I tested it, it seemed fairly runny but was clearly thicker than when it started. I gave it a bit longer to be on the safe side and then decanted it into some jars I'd sterilised in the oven.

I poured the jam into a jug and filled the jars from that as if I didn't I had visions of having a very jammy kitchen. It seemed to work but I suspect a tool specifically for the job - like a jam funnel - would have been easier.

Then it was time to add some labels and leave it to cool. It seems I needed have worried about reaching the setting point as later on I tipped the jars upside down to see if they'd set. There was no movement, which was a good thing. But now I'm (mildly) worried that they've set like rubber!

Either way I'm pretty sure they'll taste scrummy if the tasting from the spoon is anything to go by!


The verdict

  • This was easy to prepare and cook and I'm hoping the results match up to the smells that filled my kitchen!
  • The recipe says this makes 1.2kg of jam - my output was these two jars - I thought there'd be more. I guess if I hadn't've strained the fruit there would be more. 
  • Straining the jam was less fuss than I expected, and something I'd do again. 
  • Saving all those old jars throughout the year definitely pays off in autumn!
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