Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bramble Jelly-Part 2

I know, I know, this post has been a long time coming since I actually finished the Bramble Jelly over two months ago, but I finally have the time to sit and write the rest out. 

The second half of this process was accomplished with my two good friends Ashley and Kristi. We kept scheduling and having to cancel our plans for different reasons and when we finally found the best time for us to do this I got a migraine earlier in the day but pushed on through anyway. This is all to explain why there are no pictures of us- picture me in pj bottoms and slippers with crazy sleep hair- and why I've neglected to capture most of the process by photograph. We had a good time anyway and ended up with a nice product!

Here's how:

We ended up doing 3 batches with all the juice that we had and Ashley brought some berries to make a batch that had seeds in it. We put the juice (or straight berries) and sugar (1 pint juice per 1 lb jam sugar) in a large pot on low heat and added a few squeezes of lemon juice (real lemon) to help it set better as blackberries are a low-pectin fruit. Juice and sugar was stirred until the sugar dissolved. 

At the same time we sterilized our jars and lids. The oven was heated to gas mark 1 (275°F/130°C) and we put the jars on a cookie sheet and heated them in the oven for 20 minutes. Lids were put into boiling water for 10 minutes. 

The juice and sugar mixture was then brought to a boil and simmered. We made sure to test the jelly every 5 minutes to see if it had set. This took about 10-15 minutes. The setting point is 105C/220F. Scum was skimmed from the jelly after the setting point was reached. (The pot can sit off of heat for up to 15 minutes after the setting point is reached) 
It was at this point when having three of us was very helpful as hot jelly needs to go quickly into hot jars. Ashley removed each hot jar from the oven, I filled each with jelly, and Kristi quickly closed each lid. The lids need to be closed quickly to provide a good seal and to prevent mildew! Success!!

The jars were left on the counter to cool overnight and almost all of our seals depressed leaving us with jam that could be stored at room temperature. 

I added labels to my jars and a little bit of jelly flair! Now they are all ready to be given as gifts! Don't worry, we saved some for ourselves too!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bramble Jelly- Part 1

Blackberries are in season here in Britain and they are everywhere! It is not uncommon to see people beside the road picking and eating these sweet berries and we are no exception. Last week, Todd and I went to do some picking in a little grove near our house where the dogs could run around. Not surprisingly, there was very little dog exercise and lots of blackberry eating.  

In first one hour of picking we got over 2kg of blackberries (that’s about 3 quarts)! Its a perfect amount for making blackberry jelly (a.k.a Bramble Jelly).

Growing up, we had black raspberry bushes in our yard and I can remember summer afternoons picking berries and whining about the thorns that would prick my fingers! My mom would make black raspberry jelly every summer (in my recollection) and we loved homemade jelly! So, with my new project I called my mom for a few jelly making tips! 

One of the details she told me about jelly making is that you can juice the berries and save the juice to make your jelly at a later time! Perfect!

I took the 2 kg of berries and put them in a pot and filled the pot with roughly two inches of water. The blogs were a bit inconsistent about the amount of water to use. Some add less water and others add more to the juice in the end. It’s a bit confusing, but I went with the 2 inches and assume the water will boil off later during the cooking with sugar phase.

I brought my berries + water to a boil  and simmered for 20 minutes.

At this point, my beautiful assistant helped me to squish the berries in the hot pot.

Once the berries were adequately smashed, we let the pot sit and cool for an hour or two. After sterilizing my jam bag in boiling water for 2 minutes, we not-so-delicately poured the berries into the bag to hang and drip overnight.

A bit of a warning here that this process is really messy and most likely stains everything! I’m still finding splatters of this juice that I’m cleaning from my kitchen. In the morning, my jelly bag had stopped dripping and there was quite a lot of juice. Utilizing the sound advice from my mother, I restrained myself from squeezing the bag to get out a few more bits of juice. This, apparently, just adds more scum to the juice that needs to be skimmed off later and I’ve read that it makes your jelly cloudy. I weighed my juice and put it into freezer bags for hopefully a short stay in the freezer.
I ended up with 5.25 cups of juice from my berries!


The rest of the jelly making process I'm planning to do with two friends and their bramble juice. I'll post the rest of the project once we get together to make the final product.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A day in St. Boswells, Scotland

Todd and I felt like getting out of Durham yesterday so we packed up the car and the pups and headed up to Scotland for a 24 hr trip to a town called St. Boswells in Scotland. The two hour drive was very pretty and we had beautiful weather throughout the day.

I have created a video of our trip to try to bring you along with us. Hope you enjoy!