Friday, 28 September 2012

Busy week

Apologies for not posting for a while. It's been a very busy week what with work and home commitments. I'm looking forward to the weekend when all I have to do is run the children round to all their different activities! I'm hoping that the weather will improve a bit so that we can go for a walk and maybe find some blackberries that are still edible.

I've still got jars of blackberry jam that I made last year so I might try something different this time. maybe some blackberry and apple muffins or blackberry compote (just wash the blackberries and save all the insects that decided to come home with you then add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to taste and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes. Great with granola and yoghurt for that healthy start to the day). Blackberry jam is really easy to make and you don't need andy specialist equipment although I must admit that I did buy myself a preserving pan a couple of years ago as I found I was making quite large amounts.

To make the jam, for every 500g of blackberries, add 500g of sugar (I use preserving sugar as it has extra pectin which helps the jam to set but ordinary sugar is fine). Bring this mixture to the boil and add the juice of 1 lemon. Carry on boiling the mixture and put a small plate in the freezer. Sounds weird I know. When the mixture has been boiling for a while (check every 10 minutes) take a teaspoon of it and out it on the plate that you had put in the freezer. Pull your finger through the mixture and if it wrinkles it's ready and it will set. You need to make sure that you put the jam in sterilised jars. All you need to do is add water to clean jam jars (save your old jars as they will be much more use to you than the recycling plant and much cheaper than the shop bought versions) about three quarters full and put them in the microwave for 5 minutes. I put up to 5 jars in the microwave at a time. Once the time is up, pour the water away (being careful to avoid the steam) and there you have your sterilised jars. Told you it was easy.

Pour the jam into the jars (I had a small funnel to avoid additional mess but you might have a really steady hand) and then put the clean lids on. You can sterilise these by boiling them in a pan of water but I just wash them and I've never had any trouble. Wait for the jam to cool and then put them in a cupboard and enjoy your homemade produce. You can use the same recipe for most types of fruit. Just remember to add equal amounts of sugar to the fruit and use 1 lemon for every 500g of fruit. I must admit that sometimes I had to add more lemon juice as the set doesn't work. This is usually because there is less pectin in the fruit. I've made quite a few different jams which have included strawberry (my family's favourite), blackberry and elderberry (there are still some elderberries around at the moment), plum, rhubarb, raspberry and forests fruits (when there is limited fresh fruit around, I buy the frozen packets from the supermarket and they work just as well and are often cheaper). Why don't you have a go and let me know how it went.
 I'm also thinking of having a go at sloe gin this year. I spotted some sloes when out for a walk a couple of weeks ago. I know that you're supposed to wait until the first frost but I'm not sure I've got the patience for that. I have managed to find some time to work on my new design this week for a hanging felt ornament which I'm quite pleased with. Have a look at the picture and let me know what you think. I love the button flower. I'm a sucker for lovely buttons and buy them whenever I see them much to the disappointment of my gorgeous husband. Hope you enjoy your evening.

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