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Blackberry and apple jelly best recipe

a ripe blackberry

Fat juicy blackberries in our garden

The blackberry season is just starting here in Cheveley and it’s time to make our first batch of blackberry and apple jelly. I think that this is definitely the queen of jellies, so good that it can be spread on toast in the morning for breakfast or dolloped on plates and eaten with mild soft cheese.

Try and pick the blackberries when the sun has been on them; midday is ideal. For the apples, we use windfalls because they are bruised and will not keep even though they might look perfect. Blackberry and apple jelly is sometimes referred to as hedgerow jelly.

If this is the first time that you have made jelly, check out the tips and tricks below, as some of the terms are a bit quirky. Making jelly is easy, you can cook the fruit one evening and make the jelly the next. (Generally, with jam and chutney, the whole procedure has to be done in one sitting).

We also have an old family recipe for blackberry and apple jam here.

You will need a heavy bottomed saucepan or Maslin pan.

Recipe for Blackberry and Apple Jelly

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs/900gms of apples (windfalls or any apples are fine for this recipe)
  • 2lbs/900gms of blackberries
  • water (see method below)
  • White granulated sugar (the amount depends on the volume of juice extracted from the simmered, drained fruit. Ipt/500ml of juice to 1lb/454gms of sugar. I always make sure that I have a 2 kilo bag of sugar in the larder, just in case I fancy making jelly).

Method:

  1. Wash the apples, cut out bruised bits and chop roughly. There is no need to peel and core the apples.
  2. Pick over the blackberries, reject any that are tatty and remove any stalks.
  3. Place fruit in a large deep heavy bottomed saucepan, or preserving pan. Add water to cover ½ of the fruit.
  4. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer very gently until all the fruit is soft and squishy. This takes about 15 minutes, depending on how ripe the fruit is.
  5. Pour the cooked fruit into a jelly bag and leave to drip into a bowl overnight. (What is a jelly bag? See tips and tricks below). This is traditionally a piece of sterilised muslin. (How do I sterilise muslin? See tips and tricks below). We use tall buckets to catch the drips from the jelly bags. Rather than hang the bags (conventional method) I find it easier to line a large plastic sieve with the muslin. This clips neatly onto the top of a clean bucket. The sieve is covered with a clean tea cloth to protect against flies.
  6. The next day, measure the extracted fruit juice and pour it into a deep heavy bottomed saucepan. Add 454g/1lb of white granulated sugar for each 570ml/1 pt of juice. Try to avoid squeezing the jelly bag as this can make the jelly cloudy.
  7. Heat the juice and sugar gently, stirring from time to time. Make sure that that all the sugar has dissolved before bringing the liquid slowly to the boil. Continue to boil hard for about 5-10 minutes before testing for a set. (What is testing for a set? See tips and tricks below). If the jelly hasn’t set, continue to boil and teat for a set at three minute intervals. Occasionally a jelly or jam will set very quickly, when this occurs you will notice that the sides of the pan have a coating of jelly and the back of the spoon is coated too. If you spot this, remove the pan from the heat immediately and test for set.
  8. Toss in a nugget of butter towards the end to reduce the frothing that often occurs.
  9. When jelly has reached setting point pour into warm sterilised jars using a funnel and ladle. (How do I sterilise jars? See tips and tricks below).
  10. Cover immediately with plastic lined screw top lids or cellophane tops secured with a rubber band.
  11. Label when cold and store in a cool, dark place. Away from damp.

Tips and tricks:

  • What is a jelly bag?
    A jelly bag is traditionally a piece of muslin but it can be cheesecloth, an old thin tea cloth or even a pillowcase. The piece needs to be about 18 inches square. When your fruit is cooked and ready to be put in the jelly bag, lay your cloth over a large bowl. Pour the fruit into the centre of the cloth and tie the four corners together so that they can be slung on a stick to drip over the bowl. Traditionally a stool is turned upside down, the stick is rested on the wood between the legs and the jelly bag hangs over the bowl. We experimented and now line a sieve with muslin, place it over a bucket and cover the lot with clean tea cloths (against the flies).
  • How do I sterilise muslin/the jelly bag?
    Iron the clean jelly bag with a hot iron.
  • How do I remove stains from the jelly bag?
    Your jelly bags can also look like new, after you’ve used them. When drained, remove the fruit and put it in the compost bin. Rinse the fruit residue from the cloth with cold water. Put the in a saucepan, cover it with cold water and a good dash of washing powder. Bring the saucepan slowly to the boil. Turn off when boiling point is reached and when cold rinse out well. Magically all stains will have disappeared!
  • Jam “set” or “setting point”:
    Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method. Before you start to make the jam, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm jam can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make jam we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the jam, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The jam is far more delicious if it is slightly runny.
  • Sterilising the jars:
    We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated screw-top lids in an accessible place. The sterilising method that we used is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c/140c for fan assisted. When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while. I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.

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82 Comments

  1. Mrs Gillian Sutherland

    Sorry I wrote down jam instead of jelly. I still need help!

  2. Mrs Gillian Sutherland

    I’ve just discovered your website and love it.

    I want to make some blackberry, crab apple and elderberry jam but do not know the quantities. Can anyone help please?

    Gillian

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Hils

    Thanks for the tip – I must try experimenting with pectin enhanced sugar.

    Hi Kate (uk)

    Thanks for all your help. Thank goodeness someone with your experience reads the comments.

  4. kate (uk)

    Ails- yes, you can make Blackberry jelly with just blackberries- to ensure it sets you need a mix of ripe and unripe fruits. If you only have ripe fruits, then use Jam Sugar (has added pectin in it) which you can get at most supermarkets, or add pectin to your ordinary sugar – again, this can be found in most supermarkets near the sugar/baking section at this time of year, I bought some in Asda this week, or add some lemon juice with the sugar.
    Blackberries freeze like a dream, but there is no need to wait for ripe apples, if you use unripe apples now with your fresh blackberries, your jelly will set really easily as the fruit mix will be more acidic.

    Natasha, if you really want to re-heat your jam to make it runnier you can do so, but it is an awful pain doing it ( I speak from experience…) and it is better to do it with fruit juice, not water as you need a) the flavour of the fruit b) the acid in it to make the jelly set. It is also a somewhat inexact and unpredictable enterprise- too much juice and the jelly won’t re-set…I would suggest keeping the jelly as it is and using it to flavour and sweeten fruit dishes such as crumbles or pies or jam and fruit tarts, replace each ounce of sugar in the recipe with a generous tablespoon of jelly,break it into little pieces, put some boiling water on it and whisk it up to liquidise it and it will make your fruit puddings even more gorgeously fruity.
    If you want the jelly to spread, remove some from the jar in advance ( say the night before wanting to use it) put it into a warmed bowl and leave in a warm place- airing cupboard for example- the warmth should soften it nicely.If it is mega stiff, add a little boiling water too!

  5. Hi there, fantastic recipies, off to pick blackberries this afternoon! I dont know if it’s widely available in the UK but here in France the supermarkets are stocked high (as are my cupboards), with ‘confisuc’ and ‘gellésuc’- jam and jelly sugar.they are packed with pectin so if you are making anything, that doesnt contain apples, it doesn’t need anything added to help with the setting, the ‘gellésuc’ is much finer grain, but i have used jam sugar for jelly and it was fine. cant wait to get making. the apples are throwing themselves off the tree at a rate of knots!
    Hils

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Ails

    You need the apple to make the jelly set. However you could add pectin (I’ve seen it in Waitrose) and experiment.

    You can freeze blackberries and use them for jelly later.

  7. Loving the website and have just this afternoon made my first jelly – greengage (ripe, ready and free from my in-law’s garden). In our own garden we’re having a wonderful crop of blackberries this year and having discovered that we didn’t quite make it through all we froze last year I wanted to do something more than just freeze this year’s donation. This does lead to two questions:
    Can I not make blackberry jelly without the apple? or will it not set? (I know that there’s something to do with pectin but still unsure of which fruits have high pectin and which ones don’t).
    Or, if I have to wait a little for the apples to be ready, can I freeze my blackcerries just now and then just defrost them before adding to the jelly recipe above?
    Cheers in advance

  8. I made a batch of the jelly in August after gathering a few carrier bags of berries.
    It turned out perfectly,so I went to gather more berries which I then washed and put in the freezer.
    I have just made my second batch!
    10 jars altogether.
    I love your site and refer to it regularly.
    Made the lamb cutlet recipe for lunch today which was superb!(the one with the white wine and balsamic vinegar).

  9. Natasha

    I just made a batch of the jam and it is to thick to spread! Do you know if I was to re heat it with some water would I be able to reset it again? Also can you double or triple the quantities, I read on a different site that to much fruit would not let it set well?

  10. Belinda

    Just to update you, I went ahead and made the jelly using ‘normal’ sugar. Turned out perfect and got 3 half pound jars. Jelly set in no time at all, in fact so inspired I have just made apple and blackberry jam using a sieve to get rid of pips etc. Even easier and I got 6 jars out of it.
    I am now a jam freak and eyeing up may neighbours crab apples draping over my fence. Must go and have a word!

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