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Food & Drink

Autumn, Food & Drink

Easy Blackberry and Vanilla Jam

blackberry and vanilla jam
blackberry and vanilla jam

Let me share with you my favourite blackberry and vanilla jam recipe.

Blackberry picking is one of life’s greatest simple pleasures that sweetens the summer’s end.  From the plucking of the big juicy jewels to the accompanying blackberry-stained fingers: what could be better?  Perhaps only this easy and delicious blackberry and vanilla jam recipe!

Last week my toddler and I picked a big bowl of blackberries from some wild growing blackberry bushes only a few yards from my home. Food miles – zero!

best blackberry and vanilla jam

After eating a few, I wondering what to do with my foraged finds.  My thoughts quickly turned to jam – that indulgent pleasure that brightens up your morning toast no end. It is also a great way of preserving fruit right the way through the winter.  

I wanted to add an extra kick to my jam, so I thought vanilla might add that extra something something.  Turned out I was right – blackberry and vanilla jam makes for a delicious indulgence!

Before I made jam for the first time several years ago, I thought it was a long-winded and laborious process.  I had watched my gran make jam many years ago when I was a small child. This seemed to take hours and an awful lot of stirring.  Thinking back, my gran wouldn’t have used pectin so it would have taken a long long time to get the jam to set to the right consistency.  Thankfully, jam sugar (sugar with added pectin) is readily available, speeding the whole process up to just minutes!

Blackberry and Vanilla Jam Recipe

Easy Blackberry and Vanilla Jam

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 -5 jars

Ingredients

  • 800 grams of blackberries
  • 1 kilo of jam sugar sugar with pectin added to it (you can use regular sugar and buy pectin separately, or even make your own pectin from apples if you have the time/inclination).
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Several empty jars and lids 4/5
  • A heavy/thick bottomed pot cast iron or similar

Instructions

  1. Sterilise your jars – see this handy guide on how to sterilise glass jars if you’re unsure how to do it correctly.
  2. Now wash and prepare your blackberries. If you want jam with chunky pieces of fruit in it (my personal preference) then lightly mash them with a potato masher in your pan. If you prefer smooth jam, place your blackberries in a food processor and blend them up before placing them in the pan. At this point you can seive them with a fine mesh seive if you prefer seedless jam
  3. Add a tablespoon of vanilla essence and all of the jam sugar to the blackberries, and then over a medium heat, slowly heat up the mixture and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Do not let it boil at this point.
  4. Add the knob of butter, stir well until it melts in, and then bring to the boil.
  5. Once the pot has started boiling furiously set a timer for four minutes, and let boil.
  6. Once your four minutes is up, remove from the heat and test to see if your jam has set. To do this, I always place a teaspoon of jam on a plate, and then place it in the fridge for a minute or two. If the jam is still runny after being in the fridge then return the pot to the heat and boil for another two minutes, and repeat the test. Keep doing this – boiling for two minutes and testing – until your jam sets on the plate.
  7. Once set, give the pot a good stir, remove the jars from the oven, and ladle in the jam into the hot jars, working quickly. You may burn your fingers at this point – be warned!
  8. Wipe any spills off of the rim of the jar and sides with a clean warm cloth. Remove the lids from the water and screw on tightly.
  9. Your jam should then be good for 6 months – keep in a cool dark place for best results.
easy blackberry and vanilla jam recipe

My bounty!

Some Blackberry Picking Tips

Cover your arms and legs unless you want some nice scratches.

Try not to pick from the sides of busy roads – heavy metals can get into them, which isn’t what you want.

Don’t pick from ground level – they may be covered in dog wee.

Don’t pick too high – keep those ones for the birds.

Don’t wash them until you need to use them, otherwise they’ll go soggy.

Keep them in the fridge and use within 24 hours because they spoil quickly.

The best time to pick is from the end of August through to the end of September.  Superstition holds that after the end of September the devil urinates on them, but the truth is that they just don’t taste nice come October.

Will you be jamming this autumn?  If you do then I dare you to try and not sing Jammin’ by Bob Marley as you make your blackberry and vanilla jam.  I have tried many times and found it’s downright impossible!  What jam will you be making?

blackberry and vanilla jam

Food & Drink, Food Waste Tips

How to Test If Eggs Are Fresh – A Simple, Failsafe Technique

egg freshness test

Want to know how to test if eggs are fresh?  Right this way!

I’ve got a really easy way to test if your eggs are fresh.  It’s a really handy tip to keep up your sleeve so that you can avoid binning perfectly edible eggs.

In our house, we always have eggs to hand.  Unfortunately, life happens and sometimes we don’t always manage to use up all of the eggs before they reach their best before date.  I used to throw them away when they got to this point, because, you know, that’s what the date on the box said.

egg fresh test

Now, as you know I hate food waste, and I was always really loathed to throw the unused eggs out, but what else could you do?  Well, when my other half and I first moved in together he showed me a great tip to test egg freshness, that I thought I’d share with you today:

How To Test If Eggs Are Fresh

old egg
An egg two weeks past it’s best before date.

To test if eggs are fresh simply take your egg and gently place it in a large glass of cold water. You’ll want to observe whether the egg sinks to the bottom or floats to the top.

egg glass water test
It sank so it’s safe to eat!

How To Tell If Your Egg is Fresh & Safe To Eat

The beauty of this test, is that it’s really easy to tell if your egg is fresh, and therefore safe to eat.

Eggs suitable for eating will sink to the bottom of the glass.

Eggs that float to the surface have gone off and must not be eaten.  Off eggs float because pockets of air form in them as the egg goes off, making them float in water.

What Else To Look For

If you are in any doubt about the freshness of your egg and the results of this test, then there are a few further tests that you can make to make sure your egg is fresh.

The smell of the egg, once you’ve cracked it open, will also let you know if the egg suitable for consumption. If you’re not sure what rotten egg smells like, then it’s quite a sulfurous smell, not too dissimilar to a really bad fart! You really can’t miss the smell when an egg is off!

If you are still in any doubt, then take a look at the egg once you’ve cracked it open. Visually, if the egg is off then the yellow yolk will also be lying flat, rather than slightly raised. The albumen – the clear part of the egg – will also be very runny, almost like water.

With any egg past its best before date, do ensure it’s cooked thoroughly before eating, due to the risk of salmonella.

But Are They Really Ok to Eat?

I took these photos on the 28th of July. So even though my egg says best before 11th July this egg test suggests the egg is fresh and it’s still safe to eat.  

I admit, I did feel skeptical the first time I tried this test out. Thankfully, I’m pleased to report that I didn’t get ill. And, actually, I have never been ill from an egg since we moved in together thirteen years ago. So my how to test if eggs are fresh method is tried and trusted, let me assure you of that!  And even the NHS says you can eat eggs after their best before date.  Again, just cook it thoroughly.

Would you eat an egg past its expiration date?  Or do you have any other food tips?  Do share in the comments below!  And do check out my failsafe tip on how to tell if milk is bad.