Foraged Fruits – by Sarah Leary
My recent move to a village has unexpectedly turned me into a forager overnight. A grimly determined one at that, no fruit or berry is safe from my plundering paws, anything vaguely edible is in danger of being preserved, pickled or fermented.
Only recently I stumbled upon a huge bounty of juicy blackberries quivering enticingly in the hedgerows very close to my house. There’s something intensely satisfying about picking your own fruits returning home with your haul and immediately turning it into something else, somehow you feel more connected to the ingredients.
Foraging can be a great pastime, getting one out into the fresh air and often learning surprising things about quite unassuming plants. The humble nettle for example can be transformed into a flavoursome soup or even beer and chickweed is similar to spinach and can be used in winter salads or stews. It is of course vitally important to know what you are picking and to forage responsibly. The UK’s wildlife relies on wild food, so only pick from plentiful populations and bear in mind that the plant needs to propagate itself for future generations.
I plan to continue foraging fruits responsibly and am delighted to share my recipe for foraged blackberry and Chambord jam. Watch this space, there will be more…..
Blackberry and Chambord Jam
Makes 4-59 450g jars- this recipe is easily halved
Juice of 1 lemon
1 x 1kg packs jam sugar (with pectin)
3 tbsp Chambord liqueur
- Before you begin you will need to sterilise your jars and lids. Heat the oven to 120c/ gas mark ½. Wash the jars and lids thoroughly in hot soapy water and leave to drain. Place on oven trays and dry in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Put a couple of small plates in the freezer.
- Put the berries, lemon juice and sugar into a preserving pan. Heat gently to slowly melt the sugar and release the juices from the fruit.
- Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and using a teaspoon drop a little of the mixture onto one of the chilled plates. Push your finger through the jam, it should wrinkle and have started to set (the wrinkle test). If it doesn’t, boil for 2 minutes more, keep testing and repeating until setting point is achieved. Make sure you remove the pan from the heat each time you test so that the fruit doesn’t overcook.
- Stir the Chambord liqueur into the jam and leave to settle for 10-15 minutes, this will help to prevent the fruit from floating to the top of the jars. Carefully skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
- Pour or ladle the still hot jam into the sterilised jars, top with a wax disc and seal. The jam will keep for 1 year unopened, but once opened, store in the fridge.
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