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Louise Le Boutillier’s Foraged Jam

I would like to share my obsession for making jam with anything I have foraged. There is something hugely satisfying about squirrelling away a stash of fruit preserves through the warm summer and early autumn days, ready to pull out in the winter and spread on hot home made toast for an intense reminder of summer and autumn flavours. I find making jam is wonderful for anxiety and depression, particularly for giving a sense of achievement when there’s a dry patch of work.

We have several fruit trees in our garden, with hedgerows full of blackberries and I can’t stand to see any of it go to waste so I will usually make at least 30 pots of jam over the season. I like to make small batches because it is immensely satisfying to produce three pots of jam, but hugely boring and hot work to try and make a vat of it! The basic recipe just involves boiling equal quantities of sugar and fruit, and pouring into sterilised jars when it reaches setting point. For soft summer fruits like raspberries and strawberries you will need to add pectin or use “jam sugar” which has pectin in. For strawberry jam I use 100% jam sugar but for raspberries I use half and half, and blackberry & apple or plum/damson jams don’t need jam sugar. For a lovely Christmas gift add a teaspoon of cinnamon or mixed spice to the basic recipe here.

A thermometer is pretty essential. I use a digital meat thermometer.

Blackberry and Apple Jam

300g freshly foraged blackberries

300g diced cooking apples (peeled/cored weight)

600g granulated sugar

Make sure your apples are chopped very finely, and wash your blackberries twice, picking them over for unwanted visitors between washes - or the jam will not be suitable for vegetarians! Add the fruit to a heavy based metal pan (not non stick) and mix in the sugar. Leave to macerate before you start to heat or the sugar will burn. Once the mixture looks juicy, gently heat, stirring with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until the sugar is melted. Turn up the heat a little, and prepare your jars while you wait for it to boil. I like to put three jars of various sizes in a tray and fill the jars and lids with boiling water. Leave them in the boiling water while you finish the jam.

Keep stirring as the steam bubbles off, and stick your thermometer in. When it goes above 100 degrees the jam can spit so be careful not to burn yourself. As soon as it reaches 104 degrees take it off the heat and allow to cool a bit while you empty the water out of your hot jars. Give the lids a wipe out with kitchen paper to make sure they are really dry. Pour the hot jam into hot jars and screw on the lids. As they cool the buttons will pop down. Draw a beautiful label and give it to your aunts for Christmas.

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