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bramble jelly

Updated: Tue, 20 July, 2021

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

bramble jelly cuisinefiend.com

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.

As most wild fruit, compared to their cultivated counterparts, brambles are tangier, harsher and less sweet than blackberries. They also have quite a hard core that the berry is hard to pull off, unlike in raspberries and farmed blackberries.

The sweetest brambles are the ones eaten straight off the plants, with fingers pricked with thorns and stained with the juice, when only one in four lands in the collecting tub.

But that’s what pick your own is all about, and brambles are the ultimate ‘pick-your-own’ – there is no checkout at the end of the picking…

brambles cuisinefiend.com

Forager's dream...

Foraging seems daunting to an average townie. You have to know where to go and when to go there! You have to recognise what’s edible and what’s poison! And then how to prepare and use your crop! And there’s no use-by date on it!

I agree that picking wild mushrooms (scarce and camouflaged) requires substantial knowledge, though I’m saying it with the sense of superiority, having grown up in a family of seasoned mushroom foragers in Poland.

Likewise wild garlic: it masquerades as lily-of-the-valley and its season lasts all of about five minutes.

And I don’t know much about sloe berries or elderflower - trees are generally intimidating.

So bramble picking would be the nicest and the most rewarding type of foraging since they are plentiful and in plain view. It would – if it wasn’t for the pips.

how to make bramble jelly cuisinefiend.com

.. 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. And thus brambles are the supreme jamming material that comes for free, by way of an enjoyable afternoon of picking.

Why bramble jelly, not bramble jam?

Making jelly is quite similar to making jam except it works particularly well with pippy fruit (brambles!). The jelly my recipe is for is basically seedless jam, rather than jellied fruit juice.

Adding gelatine to fruit juice is just WRONG, after all that organic effort of picking. Pectin is the natural gelatine, occurring freely in fruit and thus giving jams and jellies the setting quality.

For jelly-making, 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.

Brambles should be washed before processing, especially if grown near roads, to get rid of dust and pollution. If you collected them in the heart of the countryside and managed to avoid little insects living on them, you can skip the washing. Add a splash of water to the cooking in that case.

They need to soften, without any sugar initially, for about twenty minutes at a simmer. And then the fun starts.

cooking brambles for jamming cuisinefiend.com

Drip, drip, drip goes the bramble jelly

A colander or a large sieve, set over a large pan with enough clearance for juice to drip freely, lined with a double layer of muslin cloth – that’s all that’s needed.

It should be organic drip overnight, no squeezing of the bag for maximum extraction, for perfectly clear jelly.

But if, like me, you are a/ far too greedy for that and b/ aim at jam-like pulpy consistency, give the muslin a good old squeeze before discarding the pulp the next morning. Anyway, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says it’s okay to squeeze.

bramble juice cuisinefiend.com

When is jam or jelly set?

The collected juice cooks with sugar like ordinary jam, using 750g jam sugar for every litre of the juice.

How to recognise when to jar the jelly? Tediously, with a jam thermometer. When it reaches 105C / 221F, it’s ready to decant. Note: it takes absolutely forever to go from about 102C to 105C, so don’t think ‘it’s almost there!’ and turn it off at that point – it will be too runny. Unless you like runny.

The other method is the frozen plate trick: drop a blob of the jelly onto a plate that has been kept in the freezer while jelly cooks. Wait a moment and prod it: if it looks like jelly and feels like jelly, and most importantly tastes like jelly, it’s done.

bramble or wild blackberry jam cuisinefiend.com

Let it rest about ten minutes before transferring into sterilised jars. It will mature in flavour and set a tiny bit more over a few days, if you can be so patient.



bramble jelly

Servings: makes 2 x 1lb jarsTime: 2 hours plus straining overnight
Rating: (8 reviews)

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.

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 1 litre 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.

pouring bramble jelly into jars cuisinefiend.com

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

Julie bidmead
Yum !
12 days ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
I know, it's always a dilemma!
14 days ago
Tony Paynter
@Cuisinefiend
Hi Anna, we bake everything with Half Spoon, whether it's your gorgeous bramble jelly but also chocolate cake, Victoria sponge & my wife's favourite, Lemon Curd. Usually I cannot stand anything like diet colas, with that awful saccharine after taste, so it's really surprising how well it takes the place of caster sugar or standard granulated. As I need to keep my weight down, but loving baking, it's just a little better for me, I suppose.
14 days ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Tony - I'm impressed: four kilos of brambles! Interesting about the Half Spoon sugar, I didn't know you could cook with it. Must try myself. Well done!
18 days ago
Tony Paynter
@Cuisinefiend
Hello again, Anna. I am now on my third lot of bramble jelly. So that's just over 4.2kg of brambles now. Your recipe is so good. I have now added an apple and a lemon during the initial boil. Also, instead of 750gm of jam sugar per litre of juice, I now use half of jam sugar & half of the Half Spoon sugar, from Tate & Lyle. It's the less fattening sugar & it works! I was dubious about whether it would set properly, but it has, so I can eat it with a clear conscience. I hope the halo doesn't slip & strangle me!!
18 days ago
ebrenn Biddiscombe
If you squeeze the bag you get a cloudy jelly
26 days ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi John - thank you for the lovely comment. Indeed, it's absolutely the best on warm toast with butter!
27 days ago
John
My Late mother used to make bramble Jelly she put in cooking apples to help it gel , I have tried it myself and it is a lot easier with the Jam sugar. I find the tricky bit is the correct amount of juice for adding the sugar, you can actually stew any amount of brambles at any time then leave to drip over night. the Jelly once done is a real treat with a buttery or morning rolly just out of the toaster you can't beat it
27 days ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Thank you Tony - I'm so pleased it all ended successfully. Interesting idea with the apple and plum!
1 month ago
Tony Paynter
@Cuisinefiend
I put the solid bramble in the Kenwood, cut up the solid mass & added a bit of boiling water & then thrashed it with the balloon whisk. Put it back in the jars & what a fabulous lunch we had!! Perfect, superb-tasting bramble jelly, just as it should be. Next time I will hold the temp. probe near the edge of the bowl, but this recipe is absolutely superb. I should add that I added an eating apple cut up, a lemon, cut in half & a plum which I also had so it all went in. Gorgeous bramble jelly. Thanks, Anna. I will be using your recipe from now on. My brother has offered some more blackberries from his drive, so I will be making another batch. Can't wait. Home made bread, home made butter & your bramble jelly. Nothing finer.
1 month ago
Angie
Simple and yummy.
1 month ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Tony - you could always cut it up, roll in sugar and make bramble flavoured fruit pastilles!
1 month ago
Tony Paynter
@Cuisinefiend
I kept on boiling mine because it wouldn't even reach 100oC. Eventually, I moved the probe towards the edge of the pan, instead of in the middle & the temp shot up to 108oC. So I turned it off but, now I have got 3 lovely tasting jars of solid purple rubber! It would make a good tasting gumshield. So I might try melting it a little and adding water until it appears the correct consistency. It's all good fun, though. The important thing is, is that it tastes gorgeous, if not a little chewy.
2 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Anthony - it does take a while to get it to that setting temperature. I find most recipes underestimate the time it takes.
2 months ago
Anthony Paynter
@Cuisinfiend
Thanks Anna. Those details are really helpful eg. bringing it to 105oC. That explains a lot about what has happed in the past. I had to add more and more pectin until I ruined it.
2 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Angela - thank you! Lovely to hear that.
2 months ago
Angela Barton
The best bramble jelly I’ve ever made! So simple and delicious
2 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi David - that's right, either jamming sugar or extra pectin needs to be used.
2 months ago
David Vervaet
Had to use pectin to make the jelly set. other than that it went not too bad.
2 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Ann - absolutely, it should be an interesting flavour.
2 years 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?
2 years 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.
2 years ago
Angela
@Ange
How long will the jelly last for I was wanting to give it as Christmas gifts
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Graham - sounds like a good tip.
2 years 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
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Karen - thanks for the tip.
2 years 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.
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
That's true - and a very good tip, thanks. Must try!
2 years 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!
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Alyson - sounds delicious. I wonder if you sieve them to get rid of the pips?
2 years ago
Alyson
Blackberries are very early this year. I have made 5 bramble tarts already this year.
2 years 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!
2 years 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!
2 years 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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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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