How To Make Wonderful Healthy Wild Berry Jam
Introduction: A Jam full of anthocyanin - Food for the Brain
This recipe for a healthy wild berry jam is a classic but I've given it a fresh twist using ingredients my Nan used when she lived at Apley Head farm here in the north of England.
All the ingredients save for the sugar are free. You just need to make sure you pick the right berries! As a family we love to wander the hedgerows and choose the juiciest fruit from our favourite places. If you're watchful you can tell which are the best quality.
Timing is all important. Keep an eye on the seasonal clock and be certain to harvest your fruits when at their ripest, fullest and most tasty.
If you've ever tasted commercial wild berry jam (jelly) you'll know how rich and complex it can be. But wait until you've made your own - with controlled sugar input - your taste buds will never be the same again!!
If you're uncertain about the setting point of jam don't worry, I've included a video which clearly shows you how to achieve great results!
Ingredients For 4/5lb or 2kg Jam
500g/1lb crab apples/cooking apples
125g/4oz Rowan berries
1 cup = 225g/8oz
1. Wash all fruit with warm water.
2. Cut up apples into small pieces.
3. Put apple pieces, rosehips, rowans and sloes into a large pan. Cover with enough water.
4. Cook until soft enough to pulp. You may add a little more water if necessary.
5. Strain the pulp using a wooden spoon and sieve.
6. Add to blackberries and elderberries. Cook up. Simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Add sugar, let it fully dissolve, then stir in.
8. Boil until setting point is reached. This should be between 10-15 minutes. Test the setting point by removing a spoonful of jam and letting it slide down the surface of a small cold plate. Push with your finger. It should start to gel, wrinkle and firm up and not be runny.
9. When ready pour into washed, sterilised jars and seal. Jars can be sterilised on a tray in the oven for 20 minutes at 120 degrees C. Alternatively boil in water for 5 minutes.
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Three Important Tips
- Let the sugar dissolve slowly in your hot jam. Make sure all of it has dissolved by carefully stirring the mixture. If not you may get lumps in your jam.
- Turn off heat whilst testing for setting point! Then you don't overcook your jam.
- If not set on first try, heat again for a few minutes, turn off and re-test. Take your time, try not to scorch your jam. Let settle for 5-10 minutes when set.
All of these fruits are health giving and contain amazing amounts of vitamins and minerals. This jam is a potent source of vitamin C especially, but you'll notice other prominent ones too. Rowan berries and sloes benefit most from cooking as this reduces bitterness and allows the goodness to come out.
Elderberries - contain iron and potassium plus vitamin B6, C and A.
Blackberries - contain Manganese,vitamin K and C.
Rosehips - contain potassium and vitamins A, D and E.
Rowan berries - contain antioxidants and vitamins A and E.
Sloes - contain magnesium,potassium and sodium plus vitamin C.
Anthocyanins are present in most fruits that are red, blue or purple. It is one of the most effective antioxidants known to science and is found in most of the ingredients for this recipe. Elderberry and blackberry in particular have a strong anthocyanin presence.
According to the US National Institute of Health:
The purple-black fruits of elderberries are one of the richest sources of anthocyanins and phenolic compounds among small fruits and have strong antioxidant capacity.
When included in the human diet, they exhibit a wide range of antioxidant protection and therapeutic benefits including reduced risk of coronary heart disease, reduced risk of stroke, anticarcinogenic activity, improved visual acuity, and improved cognitive behavior.
Be sure not to burn your fruit with too much heat. Take your time and build up the boil gradually, checking the mixture by stirring very occasionally with a wooden spoon.
If you need more water pour in small amounts, stir and let the mixture settle to boiling again.
Check with a spoon or fork for softness. When the apples are ready they should become fluffy and easily mashed.
Picking Your Wild Berries
When picking the berries make sure you choose a quiet, out of the way bush or tree which is not on private land. Double check before you start picking as many folks these days are alert to would be trespassers!
You also need the fruit to be some distance from the road, as pollutants can affect the quality of the berry. Best bets are footpaths, the edges of woods or wild trails and tracks well away from machines.
Once you've found some good quality ripe berries pick those above dog peeing height!!! I'd say about a yard or a metre.
Be safe when picking. Watch out for snarling on thorns and spikes and be aware that barbed wire might be lurking in some areas.
© 2013 Andrew Spacey