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bramble jelly

Mon, 21 August, 2017

⯆ JUMP TO RECIPE
Bramble jelly is the most gorgeous thing made from foraged produce. Go raid the hedges!

Bramble jelly

Dream recipe

This must be the ultimate dream recipe: only two ingredients. It’s so easy it practically makes itself. And the main ingredient is FREE.

What are brambles?

Brambles, or wild blackberries, start in late August and continue into October, weather and fellow foragers allowing. They peek through hedges, line fields and meadows, spring up along the woodland paths and by the side of the roads.

Thorny enough not to be messed with – they will grab at your clothes and hair with the power of original barbed wire. Foragers: don gloves.

Blackberries

Forager's dream...

Bramble picking would be the nicest and the most rewarding type of foraging – they are plentiful and in plain view, unlike mushrooms (scarce and camouflaged), wild garlic (masquerading as lily-of-the-valley) or elderflowers (trees are generally daunting). They would – if it wasn’t for the pips.

.. but for the pips!

Even if you aren’t the spoilt type who goes for seedless raspberry in the jam aisle, brambles are REALLY pippy. I grudgingly go for cultivated blackberries in cakes – rich flavour, palatable pips. For jamming though, shop bought fruit is usually too expensive even if you want to make just a couple of jars.

Why bramble jelly, not bramble jam?

Jelly then – which is basically seedless jam, rather than jellied fruit juice. I thought you couldn’t get away without one of those scary wasp nest-like contraptions suspended half a mile above a collecting jar, but you can easily make do with a colander and muslin cloth.

Blackberry jelly

Drip, drip, drip goes the bramble jelly

It should be organic drip, no squeezing of the bag for maximum extraction, for perfectly clear jelly. But a/ I’m far too greedy for that and b/ I was after jam-like pulpy consistency; and anyway Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says it’s okay to squeeze.

bramble jelly

Servings: makes 2 x 1lb jarsTime: 2 hours plus straining overnight

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg brambles
  • 1kg jam sugar (not all may be needed)
  • You will also need a jelly bag or a large muslin cloth and a colander


METHOD

1. Wash the brambles and put them in a heavy stock pot or jam pan with a little water – the residue from the washing will be enough. Bring them to the boil and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, until completely soft.

Cooking brambles

2. If you have a jelly bag, use it according to the instructions. Otherwise place a colander over a tall pot (you can use the same pot you cooked the brambles in, rinsed, while the brambles have been decanted to a bowl). Make sure there is enough clearance between the colander and the bottom of the pan, so the juice can drip freely. Additional scaffolding using a cake tin ring or something similar might be useful. Line the colander with a double layer of muslin.

3. Pour the brambles into the bag or muslin cloth and leave to drip overnight.

4. The next day squeeze the bag with fruit pulp to maximise the yield and decant the juice to a measuring jug. For every 1l of the juice use 750g jam sugar – my yield from over 1 kg brambles was 700ml – so I needed 525g of sugar. Pour the juice and the sugar into the pot again and bring to a gentle simmer. Let it cook for about 30-40 minutes until the temperature reaches 105C – or a blob dropped onto an ice cold plate sets to jam/jelly consistency. You don’t need to skim the fruit scum from the surface but I only bother because it is such a delicious, instant gratification.

5. While the jelly cooks, wash two jam sized jars, kilner or lidded, in hot water. Place them in an oven heated up to 120C and immediately switched off.

Making bramble jelly

6. When the jelly is ready leave it to slightly cool down, about 10 minutes, and then carefully fill the jars. Close them tightly and leave for at least a few days to mature before eating.

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Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Ann - absolutely, it should be an interesting flavour.
8 months ago
Ann Page
Hi there. I was thinking about making a bramble and raspberry jelly as I had a bit of a raspberry glut and they go off so fast. Is it ok to follow your recipe with them mixed together?
8 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Angela - it should easily last until Christmas. Make sure the jars are closed tight and store them in a cool place if possible.
9 months ago
Angela
@Ange
How long will the jelly last for I was wanting to give it as Christmas gifts
9 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Graham - sounds like a good tip.
9 months ago
Graham
@mockbeggar
bring the blackberries to the boil let them boil for a few minutes then blitz them in the pan with a hand blender, then put them in the sainsbury bag. when this is done put the mix back in the pan then add the sugar and continue as normal this way you will have less waste
9 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Karen - thanks for the tip.
9 months ago
Karen
Sainsbury's have a reusable veg sack on sale for 30p. Just the job instead of fiddling with muslin as it has a drawstring top.
9 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
That's true - and a very good tip, thanks. Must try!
9 months ago
Ayson
Hi Anna, If I’m picking blackberries for a tart I select the biggest, plumpest ones that have a better flesh to it ratio, so no, I don’t remove the pips. I don’t pick them (for a tart) if it has rained the day before either as they are too juicy and that will make for a messy pie! You cannot expect a crisp pastry base anyway as there is to much juice. Need to go for taste over ascetics with this one, after all this is rustic peasant food!
9 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Alyson - sounds delicious. I wonder if you sieve them to get rid of the pips?
9 months ago
Alyson
Blackberries are very early this year. I have made 5 bramble tarts already this year.
9 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Elizabeth - that's interesting, they must ripen early around London since they are not ready yet here where I live, and that's just 30 miles north. Enjoy your pickings!
10 months ago
Elizabeth
If you wait until late August in southern England you will have missed them - here in North London I have been picking pounds a day for the last 2 weeks. Blackberry and apple for crumble is in the freezer, bramble jelly is next!
10 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Joyce - if you're using pectin, it's best to follow the instructions on the packet. One 8g sachet of powdered pectin per 1 kilo of granulated sugar is standard (so that would be 2 tsp per 2 pounds sugar). Lemon - juice from 1 lemon per kilo. But in practice you just need to cook the jelly longer if no pectin is added, so it reaches 105C/221F or thickens enough to your liking.
2 years ago
Joyce Webster
If I use ordinary granulated sugar how much lemon juice or pectin powder do should I use?
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
That sounds like a good tip. Thanks, Graham!
2 years ago
Graham
@mockbeggaf
Here is a handy cheat. Put the blackberries or apples in the microwave for ten minutes, to soften them. Chuck them in the pan with the water, bring them to the boil, then use your hand blender to turn the berries and apples into almost a liquid goop.
2 years ago
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