"Gardening makes my heart bloom" -- mum

"The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat." -- Confucius

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Blackberry and Apple Butter

What does one do when one's freezer is full?  Make jam!  Out of the bottom drawer came 2 kilograms of 'wild' blackberries picked from the back garden last summer. 

These were exuberant and unforgivingly thorny plants which seemed to thrive on pickaxe type clay soil in the summer.  I was very glad to dig these up to make way for vegetables which do not bite at harvest time!
The recipe for this came from a recently published book, The RHS Allotment Journal by Mitchell Beazley which I had come across at the Shoe Lane Library (you've gotta love the name!).  The ingredients: 1kg blackberries, 1kg apples, 1.75kg sugar, 125ml lemon juice and 300ml water.  

Here's how my jam evolved into butter.....

Peel and core two large Bramley apples, these weighed about 1.8 kilograms.
Cover with water and simmer for about 10 minutes to a fluffy consistency.
These blackberries were rinsed a couple of times and left to defrost.
After half an hour, cook these on the lowest heat until soft enough to press through a sieve.
The softened blackberries were sieved directly over the apple pulp.
Press, scrape, press, scrape, press, scrape: slow cooking at its most mind-numbing....unless someone could put a spin on its meditative qualities!  Out of 2 kilograms of blackberries, 500 grams of seeds were eventually extracted.
Here, one was supposed to add a 1:1 sugar to fruit ratio.  I reckoned I ended up with 3 kilograms worth of pulp.  I could only find three 500 grams bags of organic demerera sugar in the pantry, so I figured this would do the trick, plus the blackberries were very sweet.  I added the rind of one large unwaxed lemon and the juice from two lemons, approximately 200 milligrams.
Thought I'd try out this newfangled jam thermometer but things got complicated when the blasted needle hovered forever at 100°C (we all know setting point is at 105°C).  Then after about 15 minutes, the needle started dropping even though the jam was boiling merrily away!?  At this point I reverted to the freezer spoon n plate method which is possibly the most effective after all.
Mmmmm I could dive into this purple black heaven!  After spooning this luscious jam into eight mid-sized jars, I spotted the third 500 gram bag of sugar which I had forgotten to add to the pot.  OMG, the ratio was actually 3:1!  I googled for some answers and found a most enlightening article on the Allotment Vegetable Growing website - I've unwittingly created fruit butter instead of jam.
Butter or jam, the end product is my summer of 2009 bottled and waiting to be savoured on wintry mornings.  The taste is reminiscent of sun-warmed berries with the occasional burst of citrus from the slivers of lemon rind.  Perhaps I'll introduce a thornless variety to the garden next year......maybe a loganberry.....or a tayberry.....or even a sunberry. 


mangocheeks said...

Ah that doesn't matter, as long as it tastes good.

Dim Sum Gardener said...

Absolutely! It has been a fun learning process as I get to taste the end result.

Stevie from GardenTherapy.ca said...

looks delish!!