How to make Jam/Jelly
Hi again HPR listeners, its the time of the year when I turn my hand to foraging and making Jelly from the local wild brambles.
The season has started early here in the UK so I’ve already produced over 60 jars of bramble jelly this year with more to come. Thankfully I have people who donate old jam jars for reuse during the year which I store for this very time of the year so I have not had any problems with jars for storage.
First on the issue of hygiene, before filling all the jars have previously been de-labelled and on the day of production are given another wash in hot soapy water, rinsed and placed in the oven and cooked for at least 15 minutes at 150° Centigrade (300° Fahrenheit) to sterilise them. All the lids are also boiled in water and kept hot until just before use for the same reason.
The first thing I do in making jelly is wash the collected fruit (Blackberries) and put it in a pan with a little water to start cooking, then mash with a vegetable masher to start the process of breaking down the fruit. I also add 1 Lemon cut in half to each 1½ Kg of fruit both for the acidity and the pectin in the pith of the lemon (this helps setting the jelly as it cools). If there are any available I add wild plums to the mix in about a 10% ratio of plums to the Brambles as these are also rich in pectin.
Once the fruit has boiled and broken down leave to cool, then remove the lemon skins ensuring you scrape the inside to get the gelatinous pulp into the pot as this contains the pectin. Now the fruit needs to be strained to remove the seeds etc. and just leave the juice for making the jelly.
Once this has been done reduce the juice by about a third to concentrate it a little then measure the remaining juice to calculate how much sugar you will need for making the jelly. I use 1Kg sugar to each Liter of juice (1lb/US Pint)
Put the juice in a pan large enough that it only comes half way up after the sugar is added as you need room for it to expand as it boils, bring the Juice back up to a boil and add the sugar stirring until it's all dissolved. This will have cooled it all down again so continue heating the juice and sugar mix until it starts to boil. At this stage you need to keep the juice boiling until it has come to Jam temp (105°C/220°F). If you have a Jam Thermometer you can use that to find the jam/jelly point. I don’t so I use a mixture of visual clues (boiling with lots of small bubbles on the surface) and using a cold plate kept in the freezer to test the Jelly as it cooks until its ready. You need to boil the juice for 10-15 minutes after it gets to temperature then put a drop of the juice on a cold saucer and leave for a minute, after which run your finger through the blob of juice and if it ripples up and stays there without closing the gap created you have Jelly. If not boil for a further 5 minutes and repeat until you have a setting jelly.
Editor's Note: above adjusted in accordance with the comment 2017-08-19
At this point remove pan from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. During this time you can drain your lids and lay them on a clean towel with the inside facing up ready to put on the jars (I’m using recycled store bought jars and lids. If using preserving jars follow the instructions with these.
As this is a jelly you don’t need a fancy jam funnel as it pours well from a jug, just ensure it is clean and dry as the high heat of the jelly will ensure it is sterile on use, but if you're paranoid about infection sterilise it the same way as your jars in preparation.
All that remains is to remove a few jars from the oven, fill with the Jelly liquid, having given it a stir as you fill your jug. Put on the lids of the jars ensuring they are on tightly. If they have the security pop up button as the jelly cools if the lid is on correctly this will be sucked down showing a good seal.
Place the filled jars somewhere to cool, then label with a date and what it is, and you're set to enjoy your own home made jelly until it runs out, or give away as a home made gift to friends and family.
If you want more info about making jams and jellies YouTube is full of how to videos.