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!
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, and is 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, which 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
- 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
Sterilise your jars - see this handy guide on how to sterilise glass jars if you're unsure how to do it correctly.
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
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.
Add the knob of butter, stir well until it melts in, and then bring to the boil.
Once the pot has started boiling furiously set a timer for four minutes, and let boil.
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.
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!
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.
Your jam should then be good for 6 months – keep in a cool dark place for best results.
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 in to them, which isn’t too pleasant.
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 jam. I have tried many times and found it’s downright impossible! What jam will you be making?