Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Blackberries, Bugs & Burns to Berrylicious Jam

So it's taken me a few days to get my head around the blogging world, but finally my first post has made it live!!
And a nice nostalgic, although slightly chaotic project to kick it off with too...
With September here the school run for Little King has begun again. So far, we've had two weeks of cold, wet, & windy walks. But watching the juicy berries ripen has made it a little easier :)
Then finally a sunny weekend!!
I went to bed on Saturday night with fingers crossed for a sunny morning (sad I know), desperate to re-live the childhood memories of blackberry picking passing the sticky yummy fun on to the munchkins =D
Lucky (For Once!!!) we woke up to a bright and sunny Sunday so with breakfast scoffed we grabbed some lil baskets and in little Kings words set off "to steal the bears berries!!" (awww) before returning home to make jam.
Remembering Mothers words to always wash the blackberries first or you'll have maggots in your belly we poured our pickings (minus a handful that despite the warnings Little King couldn't resist eating right away -  but boys will be boys) into salt water to draw out the bugs despite my skeptism that there would actually be any. Of course, Mother was right, as always - the salt water was soon wriggling with tiny white maggot like bugs - ewwww leaving me more than a little reluctant to carry on with the jam making. But a promise is a promise so i rinsed them off and gave them another soak and tediously picked over each berry with a pair of tweezers ;) before spending the rest of the afternoon going through the thousands of recipes for blackberry jam that the net has to offer and still not being able to pick one to use haha
At 9pm on Sunday I gave up and decided I was clever enough to just wing it - WRONG!!!
My idyllic Nigella stylee jam making turned into something more like the omlette contest on Saturday Kitchen Live!!!! Picture numerous burns on hands and tongue, jam almost boiling over, my hob turning into a sticky red mess and Big King (hubby) laughing at me in the background - Nice!!
By 10.10 pm my jam was still bubbling away on the stove. After frantically searching online and carrying out all the 'setting point' tests I could find my jam still didn't seem to have reached 'setting point'. Fed up I chucked in another cup of sugar, brought it back to the boil and poured it into sterilsed jars, leaving them over night to cool and hopefully set.
Returning from the school run on Monday morning I eagerly cracked open one of the jars to find the jam totally solid!! After all the hard work there was NO WAY I was throwing the lot away so I set to work melting the jam (after checking the net for jam troubleshooting tips) by loosening up in the microwave and mixing with boiling water to mash through a seive leaving me with a nice big bowl of apple and blackberry syrup which unfortunately tasted truly yucky :(
Just as I was starting to think my jam mission was destined to be a complete failure I remembered an easy fifteen minute microwave jam recipe I had found courtesy of Swirlyarts cute blog - Swirly Thoughts which seriously saved the day. I chucked in some mixed spice and some lemon juice, to hopefully get rid of the funky taste and chucked the bowl in the microwave for 6 minutes, stirring half way through, and poured into some fresh sterilised jars.
On Tuesday I awoke to some SET but still spreadable (yay) absolutely delish apple & blackberry (with a hint of spice :) ) jam. Which after labelling and tarting up the jars I think look kinda cute. Unfortunately through all the chaos I didn't take any pics to share but you can see the end result below and you can find the Amazing - Should Be Famous - microwave recipe here.
We will defo be off to collect more berries this weekend (stinky English weather permitting of course) but this time I will be sticking to the recipe like, well like jam hehe

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