Have you ever made your own jam? I did once when I was 16 or 17. I remember it well. We had tons of cherries in our garden and I loved nothing more than cherry jam. It took me a whole day to make ten jars or so. The jam was the best cherry jam I have ever had, but it was a real faff and made an awful lot of mess.
After a couple of weeks, the jam started getting a thin layer of mould on the top. I had sterilised the jars, but with hindsight, I think I had not created a vacuum seal, so bacteria could still get into the jars. Although that jam still brings memories of cherry yumminess, I never considered making jam again. Until last week, that is.
Last Tuesday saw my friend Cé and I head to a girly date sans enfants. We were invited to the Good Housekeeping Institute for a preserving course with Ball. We made blackberry and lime jam in twenty minutes or so from start to finish. Very little mess was involved; with some clever tools I had no idea existed.
There were no arms burnt trying to retrieve hot jars from the oven and after filling our jars, we simply boiled them to preserve. The jam was then ready to be stored for up to a year. The starter kit is a must have if you are considering preserving.
Since last Tuesday, I have been dreaming of blackberry jam, so much so that I asked Hubby to go foraging for blackberries this weekend. Not only would we get homemade jam, but we would make it for free. He went on Sunday morning with Crevette, Beanie and Jumpy. They came back home with a large bucket full of blackberries.
What makes out jam pretty special is that every single family member got involved in one way or another. Wriggly really enjoyed washing the blackberries. Do I need to add that her white pyjamas had to go in the wash straight after?
I would recommend to always rinse berries in plenty of water with a splash of vinegar to get rid of all the impurities, to drain the water after 10 minutes and leave to air dry on a clean tea towel afterwards.
My intention was to follow the recipe below exactly, but of course I did not have any lime at home, so I went for a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste instead. It worked perfectly!
We started by crushing the raw blackberries and Jumpy really loved this job. We like our jam quite smooth so Jumpy crushed them a lot.
After that, there was very little to do other than adding pectin and sugar before cooking the fruit.
We chose to add butter (optional), to prevent our blackberry jam from frothing and give it a nice shine.
Blackberry & Lime Jam (Recipe by Ball)
- For every 4 jars 240ml, you will need
- 1 litre blackberries - wash; crush 1 layer at a time with potato masher
- 7 tablespoons Ball Jam Setting Mix with Pectin 70g
- 6 cups granulated sugar 1.3kg
- zest of 1 medium lime
- 1 teaspoon butter optional
- Prepare water bath preserver, jars and lids according to manufacturer's instructions, if preserving.
- Clean blackberries by rolling back and forth in an open towel. If dirt is obvious on blackberries, rinse carefully in cool running water and drain thoroughly. Crush blackberries one layer at a time using a potato masher. Measure required quantity of crushed blackberries and remaining ingredients for your recipe.
- Prepare fruit and lime zest in a saucepan. Gradually stir in Ball Jam Setting Mix with Pectin. Add butter, if using. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
- Ladle hot jam into hot jars, one at a time, leaving 1/2 inch (0.65cm) headspace. Wipe rims. Centre lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
- Place filled jars in preserver, ensuring jars are covered by 2.5 to 5 cm of water. Place lid on preserver. Bring water to gentle, steady boil.
- Process jars for 10 minutes (adjust for altitude). Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars stand for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seals after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when centre is pressed. Clean and store jars according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Quick Tip: Want even less sugar? Try Ball low or No-Sugar Jam Setting Mix with Pectin.
The starter kit makes sterilising the jars much easier and it is perfect if like us, you are new to preserves. We have a small fridge (and a large family), so knowing we can make food in batch with a shelf-life of up to a year is great for saving money, time and still eating good, wholesome food.
Ball have recently launched their home preserving products in Lakeland. I love their jars. They are prettier than regular jars so I also use them for presents or to serve smoothies.
I used a range of jars for our blackberry and vanilla jam. Three of them are preserves, stored in a cupboard and they will be used as Christmas presents. Another jar is already half-empty and we keep it in the fridge, alongside the tiny jars Crevette is taking in his lunchbox to sweeten his Greek yoghurt.
– I was invited to a preserving event hosted by Ball and gifted a Starter Kit. No payment was received. All opinions and photographs are my own.