11 Sep 2014

Friendly Foraging and Homemade JAM!

At Wildly Woolly we're all about handmade, ethical and eco-friendly, so I wanted to share with you the tips and tricks to friendly foraging. It's so satisfying to make your own, especially when the main ingredients comes FREE!

So I'm taking Blackberry or Bramble Jam - an easy and delicious example.

What you need:
  • Old clothes - you will get blackberry juice on them!
  • 2 recycled tubs - one smaller for picking into (I use an old flapjack mini bites by M&S cylindrical one H12cm, W10.5cm), one larger (large enough to decant all your berries into).
  • A reusable bag, again an old one you dont mind a bit of a stain on.
  • A hedgerow near you, I use the side of the local golf course.
  • And of course - TIME - Don't rush, enjoy it!
So armed with your tubs, decked out in you old 'glad rags', head off to your chosen hedgerow. Don't forget to keep an eye out along the way for other bramble/blackberry bushes tucked away. It wont take long to find a great patch and once you have, put down your bag and take out the smaller tub, this will be your collector. VOILA - Start gathering!! Go for the big, juicy, dark purple ones, as the redder they are, the more sour they will be. Once you have filled the container, empty it into the larger one and carry on! Beware you will gain a few scratches in the process, just do it carefully and take it slow, the reward will be worth it.

I am a huge believer in being an eco-friendly or environmental forager, so remember the wildlife and insects that also roam that patch. If you see a spider or an insect allow them to escape before you 'jam' his berry-seat into your pot. Better to leave him there than wash him down the sink at home. I always try and leave some for the birds, they love them too so don't pinch the lot.

In August-September time the hedges are brimming with these delicious fruit so once you've filled your containers its time to head home. I gathered 3kgs from one small patch this year, a bumper crop, and that wasn't even half the hedgerow.

When you get home make sure you give all the berries a good rinse under the tap, this removes any leafy bits and sadly any insects remaining. I always pick out any floating ones, as I find these are usually not such nice ones. Measure your weight in berries... I used a receipe from the internet but I have my trusty River Cottage Preserves handbook for all the other tips and tricks to jam making.

Generally its 1kg berries to 1kg granulated sugar. Here's what I did:

1kg Blackberries
1kg Granulated sugar
1 packet of pectin (from any local supermarket)
1 Lemon

1 Large saucepan/soup pan
7-8 glass jars (ask family, friends and neighbours to save their old jars for you)
1 Jam funnel (optional but less messy!)
1 jam/preserving thermometer (optional)

Here I added some apples for extra pectin, but the receipe I am giving you here doesn't need these. Feel free to experiment though!

First you need to sterilise your jars, I just boil them in a large pan. But you can wash them in hot soapy water and then dry them in a warm oven. Otherwise a hot wash in the dishwasher does the trick. Dont forget them lids too!

So put all your berries into the large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, simmer until all the fruit is soft and pulpy. Bring it to the boil adding the sugar as it begins to boil, stir constantly until the sugar has all dissolved. Add the squeezed lemon juice. Allow it now to boil without stirring until it reaches the 'jam' temperature on the preserving thermometer (otherwise boil for a minimum of 5 mins. It must have reached 104.5degrees c to set).

Skim any foam off the top and then pour into the jars and seal as quickly as possible. Use within 12 months.

TaDahhh!! Enjoy!