First on my list was to make blackberry jam. I was anxious, I have never made jam before and the only thing I knew about making any kind of jam were my grandmother’s words in my head: “For any amount of fruit, use the same amount of sugar”. Well, this is a start I thought. A bit of research on Google showed that blackberries are low in pectin, which is why you need to add lemon (or lime) juice for jam to set. I added juice of three lemons. Next worrying point was to find the jam “setting point “. I didn’t have a sugar thermometer and to be honest I hadn’t even heard that jam has a setting point but I remembered my grandma again and her wrinkle test. I put three plates in the freezer 10 minutes prior to testing, anxiously awaiting the right moment. I dribbled several drops of jam onto a cold plate, and then did it again…and again until the surface of the jam wrinkled when pushed with a finger. In the end I made two sets of delicious jam: seedless and with seeds. I enjoy them both, but if you would like to make seedless blackberry jam, strain juice through a cloth (or metal strainer) before moving onto step 2 in the recipe below.
- 1.25kg blackberries
- Juice of 3 lemons
- 1.25kg sugar
Makes approximately 5 x 500g jars
1. Put the berries and lemon juice into a large stainless steel pan and cook over a low heat, stirring every now and then, until the berries are soft and plenty of juice has been released. Press gently with a potato masher to release even more juice and break up some of the fruit, but don’t reduce all the berries to pulp.
2. Add the sugar, then stir for about 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves. This is important to prevent the jam from crystallising during storage. Increase the heat, then boil steadily for 10 minutes until setting point, 105°C, is reached (or perform the wrinkle test!)
3. Remove the pan from the heat, skim any scum off the surface, then leave for 5 minutes for the fruit to settle into the syrup. Stir well, pour the hot jam into warm sterilised jars, then immediately cover with lids. Label, then store in a cool dark place.
Original recipe is from Delicious Magazine.
Next step for me was to up my game a bit with a recipe for blackberry vodka! I adapted the recipe of blackberry cordial from Syrup & Biscuits blog. It was relatively easy to make, the only time consuming part was straining the blackberry juice. I used a metal strainer together with some cloth bought in Poundshop. Vodka had an amazingly punchy taste with a distinct blackberry flavour but I should warn you it was not very strong. When my Russian friend tasted it, he asked me “Sasha, it is really nice, but can I add vodka to it?” 🙂
- 4 cups blackberries
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/4 cup vodka
- 1 cup sugar
- spices (adapt to taste): 4 cloves, 4 black peppercorns, 4 cardamons, 1 bay leaf
- Place blackberries, water and spices in a saucepan. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring often and mashing the berries.
- Remove from heat and strain through a cloth (or strainer). The yield will be about 4 cups of blackberry juice. Stir in sugar while the liquid is still warm until sugar dissolves.
- Let cool completely. Stir in vodka.
- Pour blackberry vodka into sterilized bottles, screw on lids and store in a cool dark place for at least two weeks before serving.
Last item on my recipe list was blackberry cake. Since watching The Great British Bake Off, I liked to make Mary Berry’s Lemon Madeira cake. The cake has a distinctive crack along the top and the most wonderful and warm fragrance of lemon. Its simplicity is what makes it great. So when I was searching for blackberry cake recipes I wished to find one close to Mary Berry’s recipe. Luckily I found one on Flours in your hair website. Flours in your hair also has an Instagram account with lots of interesting Christmas recipes, so make sure to check it out. Apart from ricotta cheese and blackberries, the ingredients and method are almost identical to the lemon cake recipe. Creaminess of ricotta and tartness of blackberries go great together but other berries can also work well. I don’t have a stand mixer so I mixed my cake batter by hand. It’s easy!
- 1 cup Blackberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 1/2 cups Flour
- 1 1/2 cups Ricotta cheese
- 1 3/4 cups Sugar
- 3/4 cup Butter (softened)
- 3 Eggs
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (gas mark 4). Butter a loaf pan and line the bottom with baking paper; butter the baking paper.
- In a bowl mix together butter, ricotta, and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour, baking powder and vanilla extract and mix well.
- Sprinkle blackberries over batter and stir gently to combine.
- Pour batter into loaf pan and tap on the counter a few times to ensure there are no air bubbles.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then lower oven temperature to 325 degrees (gas mark 3). Bake for another 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch.
- Let cool completely, and serve with tea!
Have you got any of your favourite recipes to share? Comment below and let’s create a tasty list of garden recipes for New Grow Your Own Year together!
With warmest wishes for Christmas and New Year, Sasha.