I’m not a huge fan of blackberries in their original state, but now bramble jelly, that’s a whole different story.
I’ve been promising myself a jar of homemade bramble jelly for years but I’ve never quite made the time to do it. In my new day walking existence I’m finding myself doing so many things which I didn’t have the time, the energy, or just simply the daylight to do during my years of living in the twilight zone as a nightworker, and picking blackberries is just one of the new smiles I’ve found recently.
I’m very fussy about which blackberries I collect, let’s face it, from me you’d expect nothing less, I won’t pick them from the side of the road, I know many, many cars have gone over to unleaded fuel and I’m sure the miniscule amount of lead which you would consume from a serving of bramble jelly made from blackberries picked from the roadside would be no where near enough to enter the brain and cause learning difficulties, but when my girls were little, we “did things” rather than “had things” and one of the things I did was protect them from excess lead by not picking blackberries by a road.
We had this one park we used to go to with Little Sister and her three little ones. It was quite a walk away but that was all part of the fun. We would pack a picnic and go to the park. Then we’d play and eat our picnic, once the food had all been eaten, we’d fill the various food boxes with blackberries and take them home to make jam. I’m not quite sure how the blackberries mutated, but this park became known to us as the strawberry jam park.
Any way, no surprise, but my mind has wandered again. Apart from not picking blackberries from the side of the road, I also avoid train lines, I don’t pick from floor level as you never know quite what’s been brushing past them, and if at all possible a downpour the night before seems to make them so much juicier. So you see, to pick blackberries while working nights I would have had to make a special plan to go on one of my awake days and I needed so much sleep that awake days were very few and far between.
However, during the blackberrying months I wander, walk or plod past the perfect blackberries on my way home from each shift so I just have to pick at my leisure. Now even for me, it would be not quite the norm to take a blackberrying bucket to work but I’ve found the perfect solution. I’ve popped a few little freezer bags into my handbag so that I can pick a little bag full as the mood takes me. The best thing about picking this way is I take the little collection of berries home with me and drop them straight in the freezer. A day or so later, I’ll pick another small bag full and freeze then too. In this way I can collect berries all through blackberry season and make lots of jam at the end.
Of course if you can’t make you own bramble jelly you can always buy a jar instead. I’ve bought many a jar from many different places but the one which I find comes closest to my homemade taste is from a supermarket where “Every little helps”. I’ve been wondering if blackberries grown by the seaside, weathered by the salty sea air are going to taste different.
I’m guessing you know that bramble jelly is blackberry jam, but made from just the juice of the blackberries, but do you know how to make it? I use my mum’s old jam recipe, first I boil up my blackberries in a large pan and simmer until they’re all mushy, then I strain the berries overnight in a nylon stocking or similar purpose bought such item. One important point here, just collect the drips given to you here. Don’t try to squeeze an extra few drops from the berries, any squeezing or scraping of the straining bag might well produce a little more juice, but it will give you cloudy jam. In a nice fresh pan, put one pint of juice to one pound of sugar, then simmer until setting point and put into jars – simple.
Incidentally, one pound of sugar and one pound of fruit works wonderfully for most jams too .