Sunday, 12 September 2010

Blackberry and Apple Jam

Jam jam jam, jam jam jam, nom.... eugh....

Black Books quotes aside (if you don't know what I'm talking about, go and find out) this jam is definitely not eugh.  It is my mother's own recipe, and I have been highly aware of its production since a very young age.  I first remember picking blackberries specifically for jam at a place called Hole Cottage, once owned as a holiday home by the Landmark Trust but now I believe sadly sold.  It was during our stay there, chopping and fetching wood for the real fire, reading a lot of books, going on a lot of walks and drinking tea from the (always identical) Landmark Trust tea-set, that the Blackberry Jam Song was first composed.  The brambles, as always, were full of spiderwebs, the path, as always, along which they grew was strewn with the detritus of passing dog-owners, and Mum sang out to us wee ones as we worked:

'Spider-jam, spider-jam,
nur-nur-nehneh, Spider Jam
Mind the poo - on the path
or you'll have to, have a bath
Watch out!
Here comes the Spider-Jam,'

to the tune of Aerosmith's Spider Man.  It became a firm favourite immediately, and in honour of the incident I have labelled the first two bottles of my blackberry liqueur 'Créme d'Araignée,' or 'Spider Liqueur.'

Mrs. Dawson's Blackberry and Apple Jam (proportions)

4 lbs (spiderless) blackberries
1/2 pint water
1.5 lbs peeled, cored, finely sliced cooking apples
6 lbs caster sugar
(knob of butter - I missed this by accident, but it seems to be optional.)

EDIT: Thanks to the interwebs, I now know that the knob of butter is apparently added at the last minute to reduce the appearance of scum, but I didn't spot any on mine, so do as you like.

Put a small saucer in the freezer with a couple of icecubes on it.  Trust me, you'll need it later.

Simmer the blackberries in 1/4 pint of the water until soft, which won't take long.  Simmer the apples meanwhile in a larger pan in the rest of the water until soft, then mash them.  Add the blackberries and the sugar to the apple pulp, stir til the sugar has dissolved, (then add the butter.)  Bring to a rolling boil and boil 10 mins.

TOP TIP:  At this point the whole thing will become Extremely Bubbly as you can see in the pictures and difficult to stir without injuring oneself.  I ended up wrapping a teatowel around my hand to protect myself from boiling sugar splats.  It disturbed me somewhat that I never saw Mum doing this, but perhaps she used a longer spoon.

After 10 mins take the saucer out of the freezer and blob some of the jam onto it.  Does it bind together into a  proper jammy blob when cooled?  If not, just keep boiling a bit more.  If so, skim any scum off the top of the jam, and pot into clean jars.  If you don't have clean jars, as I didn't, endeavour to make some, as I did:

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