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 – it will grab at your clothes and hair with the power of original barbed wire. Foragers: don gloves.
Bramble picking would be the nicest and the most rewarding type of foraging – if it wasn’t 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.
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. —Cuisine Fiend
You will also need a jelly bag or a large muslin cloth and a colander.
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.
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).
Pour the brambles into the bag or muslin cloth and leave to drip overnight.
The next day squeeze the bag with fruit pulp to maximise the yield and decant the juice to a measuring jug. For every 1l (4 cups) of the juice use 750g (3 1/2 cups) jam 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/200F – or a blob dropped onto an ice cold plate sets to jam/jelly consistency.
While the jelly cooks, wash two jam sized jars, kilner or lidded, in hot water. Place them in an oven heated up to 120C240F and immediately switched off.
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.