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recipe

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 wondered 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

Make this deliciously indulgent blackberry and vanilla jam

Course Preserve
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.

jars after canning

My blackberry and vanilla jam 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 them 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, Summer

How To Make Alcoholic Rhubarb Cordial

rhubarb ideas

Let me show you how to make my favourite rhubarb cordial with this easy recipe.

Aah, rhubarb, that seasonal summer delight.  Field grown from April to September, August is a good month for finding fresh local rhubarb in the shops.  But what to make with it?

rhubarb cordial recipe

My rhubarb repertoire recently extended to a rhubarb crumble. However, the secrets to a good crumble often elude me. As such it quite often ends up a bit too wet. Any tips on how to avoid this are gratefully received!  

After too many soggy crumbles, I was after a foolproof rhubarb-based recipe about as far removed from a crumble as you could get.  Then last month I came across this really easy no-cook boozy rhubarb cordial recipe on Food 52, which sounded amazing and crucially, foolproof! The rhubarb cordial does take a whole month to make so it’s not one for the impatient. But trust me, patience really is a virtue on this one!

boozy-rhubarb-cordial
My rhubarb cordial after one month

Alcoholic Rhubarb Cordial Recipe

Boozy Rhubarb Cordial

This alcoholic rhubarb cordial is the perfect grown up treat – tasty, sweet and decadent, it’s perfect on the rocks or mixed with tonic, soda or sparkling lemonade.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 500 ml

Ingredients

  • 900 g of rhubarb stalks roughly six large stalks
  • 750 ml of vodka
  • 250 g of granulated sugar
  • A sterilised 1 litre capacity large jam jar.

Instructions

  1. Wash your rhubarb stalks and chop roughly into one inch pieces.  There’s no need to peel the rhubarb.
  2. Place your chopped rhubarb pieces into your jar, and add the sugar.
  3. Pour in the vodka, until all the rhubarb is covered. You’ll end up with a fair bit of vodka leftover – that’s ok – as long as the jar is filled to the top with vodka.
  4. Give it a good shake until as much sugar is dissolved as possible, and then leave the jar in a cool dark spot for 4 weeks.  Give it a shake every now and again to help dissolve the sugar.
  5. After four weeks sieve the mix into a bowl and discard the rhubarb (we tried to eat it.  In one word: don’t!).  Decant the liquid into a sterilised bottle and enjoy responsibly!  Bottled up, it can last for around 12 months, meaning you can enjoy a taste of summer on the dullest darkest days of winter!
boozy-rhubarb-vodka-cordial

The rhubarb cordial is deliciously fruity without an overt vodka taste. On a hot day, it’s particularly refreshing when served with a dash of lemonade or tonic water.  And when served neat, it’s smooth and warming and makes for a good autumn and winter treat to warm up cold evenings.  Alternatively, for a sophisticated Bellini-type drink, you could add a shot to a glass of Prosecco or Champagne.

If you’re looking for any other boozy cordial inspiration, try my cranberry and orange infused gin recipe, or my boozy elderflower cordial recipe.

Sidenote: I used demerara sugar as it was all I had to hand, so mine has coloured up a bit differently to how it will when you use granulated sugar.   Yours should be a little bit lighter and more pink in colour.