Making jam really isn’t that hard and nothing reminds me of growing up in Ireland more than the smell of freshly baked scones and home-made jam. When we were old enough to carry a bucket, we were sent out to pick blackberries from the hedgerows where we lived. I may remember this with rose-tinted glasses but I could swear the weather was better back then. This week when I saw cheap blackberries at our local greengrocer, I couldn’t help wanting to relive the good old days and have been going around with stained fingers and a smile on my face ever since.
For 2 pots of blackberry jam you will need:
- 500 g blackberries
- 400 g caster sugar
- juice of half a lemon
Put the blackberries in a medium-sized heavy based pan. Turn the heat on and mash them gently with a potato masher. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir the mixture. Heat until it starts to bubble and then remove any scum that rises to the top.
When is the jam done? Our trick is to put a plate in the freezer to make it cold, then take a spoonful of jam and put it on the cold plate. Place back in the freezer for a minute or two then draw your finger across the blob of jam. If a thin skin forms, the jam is done. Don’t be tempted to overdo it – you can always put it back on to heat if it doesn’t set but if you overdo it, the jam is never as good. For us the jam took about 30 minutes (but varies with hob, pot type, batch size etc).
To sterilize jars – put in an oven at 170C for 10 minutes. Jam placed in sterilized jars will keep for ages (not that it usually survives that long in our kitchen).
For the fruit scones – Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Allen – Makes 6
- 200 g flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 40 g butter
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 egg beaten and mixed with 100 ml milk
- 10 g caster sugar
- 3 tbsp dried fruit (e.g. raisins)
Rub the flour, baking powder and butter together to form a dry, sandy mixture. Then add the caster sugar and fruit and stir before adding most of the milk and egg mixture. Knead briefly to form a smooth dough. Roll to about 2 cm thick and cut. Use the remaining few spoons of the milk and egg mix to glaze the scones. Bake at 200C for 10 minutes (or until golden).