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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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68 Comments

  1. This looks lovely, thanks for all the tips and advice.

    Can you give any idea about quantity made? I’ve picked about 1.3kg of blackberries and have no idea how much liquid jelly I will end up with, or how many jars I might need.

    Sorry if this is already listed and I’ve missed it. Thanks for your help!!
    Ellie

    • Nigel Spelman

      I used 1.5kg blackberries and 1.5kg apples and a small amount of water, which made 900 ml of juice.

      Then added 800 gm of granulated sugar and it made about 1.6 kg (3-1/2 lb) of jelly. Suggest you go easy on the sugar as the jelly has come out a little sweet, but has set well.

      Of course it’s regrettable the yield is only around 1/3rd the total weight of ingredients because so much pulp, seeds and skin gets discarded, even after a good overnight strain. But it is worth it as the end result is delicious. Try blackberry and apple jelly on toast with crumbly Wensleydale cheese!

      Tip: I recommend the Kitchen Craft Jelly Strainer, now in its 3rd year in our household – much easier than the improvised upturned kitchen stool I used previously to suspend a muslin bag over a drip bowl! The Lakeland version also looks good.

  2. Margaret Lawrenson

    This is indeed the queen of jellies. We stumbled upon a fantastic blackberry crop this morning (note to self: remember always to have a spare box in the car for serendipitous moments like this), and with a bag of windfalls winking at us reproachfully, the jelly’s almost on the stove as I type.

  3. Sylvia Fraser

    Have you any tips for removing labels from recycled jars. I have tried soaking, dishwashing, rubbing the old labels with rubbing alcohol, nail varnish remover…. but some labels just won’t come off properly? Sylvia in Scotland.

    • Sarah Skeldon

      Using a damp, clean cloth, wrap it round your finger and dab it into dry Bicarbonate of Soda. Rub the “sticky” area with it and leave for a couple of minutes. The sticky stuff should come off easily, but if it’s stubborn, try using a green (nylon) scourer. Repeat as required. Rinse jars with clean, hot water and sterilise as usual. Works for me!

    • Eva Mathis

      I have started using oil. Mostly from jars that have veggies in oil, like dreid tomatoes or artichokes. I soak a piece of kitchen paper in it and rub the glue off with it. Works quite well.

    • Cheryl laycock

      White spirit will do the trick

    • Marcel Moulin

      There’s a product called “Sticky Stuff Remover” which smells of lemon juice so it may be citric acid though I am not certain about that point. A 250 ml plastic bottle cost me under £2-00 and lasts for years as so little is required. It works by removing the sticky residue after the paper label is removed/scraped away. It works perfectly every time – including just now before putting Blackberry and Apple Jelly into jars.

    • Lynn thornton

      I have read somewhere but not tried, use a hairdryer

    • Palstre

      hi
      The easiest way in my opinion is to use a wire wool pad. Just wet the label and scrub( doesn’t take too much effort and doesn’t scrape the glass ) Good luck !

    • Sharon Moulding

      There is a product out there called ‘sticky stuff remover’ it comes i a spray and liquid and works in seconds. I always have some in the house.

  4. Hi Fiona, Can I use unrefined sugar in your recipe? I found your recipe and site last year and loved the result when I made the jelly however I prefer to use unrefined sugar if possible.

    Thanks
    Susan

  5. A couple of tips:

    To test your set, put a large metal or glass plate on top of a plastic covered ice block such as you get with lots of freezers or can be bought cheaply at the supermarket. This stays very cold through numerous testings.

    Put jars and covers in the dishwasher (together with any dishes that need doing) and run it. Leave the door closed until ready to pot up and the jars will be sterile and hot when you take them out

    Label jars with luggage labels and tie around the jar under the cover with a nice bit of string or ribbon. No labels to scrape off and they look good as gifts. You know who your true friends are when they give you back the empty jar for next year’s jam/chutney/jelly.

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