There has to be some compensation for the disappearance of summer and the sunshine, and one such is the abundance of beautiful autumn fruits, vegetables and berries which do an excellent job. From September onwards it is possible to pick from fruits including sloes, bilberries, plums, pumpkins, and wild mushroooms and fat juicy blackberries.
Blackberries are perfect for making a blackberry jelly, a delicious jelly to serve at an afternoon Tea or as an accompaniment to cooked meats and game.
The recipe below uses cooking apples and these add not just flavour, they deliver a hefty amount of pectin, which is a starch (a heteropolysaccharide) which when cooked with and acid and sugar forms a gel, hence its use in jam and jelly making.
- 3 pounds blackberries (washed)
- 2 Bramley apples (or cooking apples, washed, cored and diced)
- 1 pint water
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 1 pound sugar (more or less; see step 5 of recipe)
- Take a tea towel or jelly bag and wash in boiling water (the tea towels may be tainted with food or detergent smells and these can spoil the jelly). Leave to dry. Suspend the tea towel or jelly bag on an up-turned stool with a large bowl underneath for the juice to drip through unless you are lucky enough to have a jelly bag stand.
- Place the blackberries, apple, water and lemon juice in a preserving or large, heavy based saucepan, big enough to hold both fruit and sugar.
- Bring the fruit to a boil and simmer for 20 mins or until the fruit is soft.Avoid stirring as this will reak up the fruit.
- Gently place the fruit and juice into the jelly bag or tea towel and leave to drip overnight. Do not be tempted to squeeze the bag, at any time, this will make the jelly cloudy.
- Measure the juice; for every 600ml (2 1/2 cups) of juice weigh 450g (1lb) of sugar.
- Place the juice and sugar into a preserving pan and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 - 15 mins or until setting point is reached (see note below). Clear away any scum from time to time.
- Fill clean, sterilised jars with the hot liquid, cover, seal and store in a cool, dark, place.
To test for setting: Place a small plate or saucer in to the fridge for 15 mins. Pour a spoonful of the hot jelly onto the plate and return to the fridge for 5 mins. Push the edges of the jelly with your index finger, it is set when it all wrinkly and crinkly.