My French copper preserving pan has been put to good use already, and made three batches of yummy jam. Here’s two of the recipes I made:
Blackberry and Apple Jam
Really, this should be a jelly. However, lacking a muslin jelly bag and space, and being rather concerned that even if I had said jelly bag, I would get glorious purple stain all over our rented flat, I decided that jam was the best option. It is a bit seedy, but not unbearable. The flavour is exquisite: just how I remember my grandmother’s jam tasting.
Bramley cooking apples
Ripe blackberries (but not over-ripe – mine were on the squishy side so the jam took longer than it should’ve to set)
Sugar (I use white granulated; preserving sugar takes too long to melt and anyway, there’s plenty of pectin in Bramleys)
Weigh your blackberries, and use the same weight of apple (when prepared), or a bit less.
Peel, core, and chop the apples.
Put into preserving pan with a little water – not more than half an inch. Don’t worry, they won’t stick if you stir them.
When they’re almost all mush, mash them with a potato masher, then add the blackberries.
Stir until the juice starts to come out of the blackberries and you’ve got a nice deep purple mixture. Don’t let the blackberries disintegrate completely, or your jam will be very seedy.
Turn the heat off, and measure the fruit mixture into a bowl. For every pint of fruit, you need 1lb of sugar. Once the fruit is back in the preserving pan, turn the heat to medium and stir in the sugar until it has all melted.
Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes and DO NOT STIR.
After 10 minutes, spoon a little bit of jam onto a saucer, and put next to an open window/doorway for a couple of minutes. If the jam wrinkles when you push your finger through it, setting point has been reached. You may need to do this a few times before you get it to wrinkle, but don’t let the jam boil for more than about 15 minutes.
Don’t worry if your jam still seems runny; by the time you’ve skimmed the scum off, and melted a knob of butter around the surface (to dissolve the last bits of scum), you’ll probably find that the scum you’ve removed is starting to set around the edges already.
Pour the hot jam into warmed jars (I put mine in the oven on the lowest heat for about 15 minutes), and seal with wax discs and cellophane.
A word of warning about boiling the jam for any longer than 15 minutes: two things could happen – one, is that it goes beyond setting point and won’t ever set; two, is that the sugar begins to caramelise and you end up with very dark, sticky jam, with a burnt flavour. Neither is good, so turn off the heat. If you find that it’s quite a runny set even the day after, you can always call it ‘conserve’ instead of jam!
I made my hedgerow jam with the fruit I had to hand – more apples and blackberries, and some damsons from my mum’s huge old tree. Traditionally, hedgerow jam has several more interesting ingredients (hawthorn berries, sloes, elderberries, rowan berries, rosehips) although any combination of them will do. I just didn’t have the time to go and find these before my blackberries went mouldy! This is a really tasty jam with several layers of flavour – and would probably have more the more different fruits you put in.
2 1/2 lbs Bramley apples, roughly peeled, cored, and chopped
2 1/2 lbs blackberries
2lbs damsons/wild plums, quartered, stones left in
Sugar (white, granulated)
Put all the fruit in the preserving pan with a little water, and stir until mush. Mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth apart from seeds and stones.
Press the mixture through a sieve. This is time consuming and hard on your arms, but is the best alternative to using a jelly bag (see above recipe for my reasons for not using one!) It produces a jam without the seeds and coarse bits, but with more texture than a jelly.
Measure the juice back into the pan, and discard the seedy pulp into the compost bin. As above, 1lb sugar for every pint of juice.
Melt the sugar, bring to a rolling boil, test the set, and pour into jars. (See the above recipe for details and more direction.)
The weights of fruit in this recipe can be varied depending on what you want the predominant taste to be, or on whatever appropriate fruit you have to hand.