At this time of year, we seem to fall into two camps: those who aren’t quite ready to let go of summer: of ice lollies, bare feet on hot sand, BBQs and picnics, Pimms in the park; and those who are longing for the soothing arrival of autumn and its promise of hot chocolate and crumpets and crumbles, cosy nights in with box sets, crunchy-leaf-walks and woolly cardigans. If pressed, I would probably have to say that I fell into the latter category (autumn is the introverts’ season, after all).
But this year, I’m making a conscious effort to relish the time in between: very late summer, with its blessedly cool breezes, still-ripening tomatoes, changing colours, and golden light. There’s a shift in the air, prompting notions of jam-making and slow-cooking, but we don’t need to say goodbye to summer just yet. Here’s a lovely, nostalgic way to preserve the season. For tips on blackberrying, have a look at my guide here.
Recipe: Bramble jelly
- 500g blackberries
- 500g granulated sugar
- Juice of one lemon You will also need:
- 2 sterilised jam jars (approx. 250-300ml capacity) and 2 waxed discs
- Gently rinse the blackberries, transfer into a heavy-based saucepan and add 180ml cold water. Cook over a very low heat, with the lid on, for 20 minutes – the berries should start to simmer but not boil. Every 5 minutes, give the berries a squish using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the sugar and lemon juice, replace the lid, and continue to heat gently for a further 10 minutes, in which time the sugar should have fully dissolved.
- In the meantime, prepare for the next stage by preheating the oven to gas mark 4/350°F/180°C. Pop a large heatproof bowl into the oven.
- Next, remove the saucepan’s lid, turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a quick boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the bowl from the oven, and place a large sieve, lined with a large piece of clean muslin or gauze, over it. Carefully pour the (hot!) jam mixture into the lined sieve, allowing the liquid to strain through into the bowl.
- Finally (and quickly, before the mixture starts to set), transfer the strained jam into your sterilised jars, cover with a waxed disc, replace the lids and allow to cool and set before slathering on toast or a warm, fresh scone. The jam should keep for up to a month in the fridge.