Late January through to February is Blackberry time in Australia. Blackberry bushes have long been recognised as one of the most noxious weeds in Australia and are the bane of many a farmer because of their tendency to take over valuable pastures
However for those of us who delight in the bushes sweet succulent fruit it is a different matter. Over the past 150 years or so, children have delighted in heading out to pick the berries in the summer time and bring them home for their mothers and grandmothers to make jam, pies and other delights.
As I outlined in my recent post, Sharing Memories - It's Blackberry time! blackberry picking in our summer school holidays was something we really looked forward to.
We would head out early in the morning and pick the berries, bringing them back to our Nanna, Christina Carriage's kitchen, ready for her to make her jam. The obvious next part of this story is the actual jam making, so today I would like to share with you Nanna Carriage's Blackberry Jam.
Nanna Carriage's Blackberry Jam
6lbs fresh firm blackberries
1/2 cup of water
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
Sort berries, to check there are no old, overripe or damaged berries. Wash in a colander, drain and place into a large preserving pan or saucepan. Add water and lemon juice. Press the berries with a wooden spoon to release their juices. Place on a low heat and bring slowly to boil. Continue to boil slowly for approximately half an hour until the fruit is soft and liquid reduced.
Add sugar (which has been preheated) to the berry mixture. Stir till dissolved, then turn heat up and boil quickly until the jam sets when tested.
Pour the jam mixture into warm sterile jars and seal with airtight lids or jam papers. Label, date and store in a cool place.
Nanna had some other tips for making good jam:
1. If you didn't have lemons, a peeled green apple can be added to the berries when cooking and this will aid in setting the jam.
2. Cook the fruit slowly, and only bring to the boil once the added sugar is dissolved. Remember it is the fruit that requires the cooking not the sugar, so low heat when cooking the fruit to soften, when the sugar is added heat is turned up to cook quickly.
3. To test if the jam is ready, drop a little jam into cold water in a saucer and push with finger, if the mixture is set and surface wrinkles it is ready.
4. To sterilize bottles wash in hot water, dry thoroughly and then place into warm oven before filling with jam.