Late summer is a great time for foraging, and in many countries, you’ll be able to find an absolute abundance of fruit which can be preserved to last the whole year through. Apples, plums and blackberries are common in southern Australia and much of Europe, so that’s what this recipe includes, but you could add lots of other fruits as well: currants, gooseberries, peaches, apricots, cherries, nectarines, pears, passionfruit, mango, strawberries, raspberries…
If you’re using berries, the macerating step is valuable in helping the fruit keep its shape, so allow a bit of extra time for that. Including some tart apples will help your jam Set, as they’re high in pectin. Foraged roadside apples are often perfect for this, but Granny Smiths will do the job nicely too.
If you’re using currants or gooseberries, add them at the same time as the apples- cooking first helps soften their skins.
1kg tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1kg plums, washed, stoned and chopped
1kg blackberries, washed and stalks removed
Makes 12x 270ml jars
1. Mix 500g sugar with berries and set aside for a couple of hours to macerate.
2. Add apples & 500ml water to wide, heavy/based pot. Bring to boil, then simmer until fruit has turned soft & pulpy.
3. Add plums to pot and simmer until soft. Stir occasionally to stop fruit sticking to bottom of pan. Add a splash more water if needed.
4. Add macerated berries and the rest of the sugar, pop the pan over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Stir occasionally to ensure sugar is completely melted.
5. Keep at a ‘rolling boil’ until jam reaches a Set. Test for a set by dripping a bit onto a cold plate, waiting til it cools, and seeing if it wrinkles/gels when you poke your finger through it.
6. Skim off any scum, then let sit for 5-10 minutes off the heat. This helps berries distribute evenly rather than float at the top.
7. Stir, then pour jam into hot sterilised jars and seal with boiled lids while hot.
Store in a cool dark cupboard for up to 12 months before opening, then in the fridge once you’ve cracked the jar.
* When you’ve filled all of your jars, there will be some scrappy bits of jam left in the pot: scrape it out with a spatula and keep in a little container for adding to porridge, or cakes, or yoghurt, or drinks. It makes a most excellent ‘solid cordial’, and it makes the most wonderful champagne cocktail 🙂
* If you’ve got less apples to add, squeeze in the juice of a lemon or two when adding the sugar to help your jam Set.
* When using foraged apples, watch out for coddling moth grubs. These fat white grubs chew tunnels through fruit, leaving behind crumbly black-brown powder. Cut these bits out, and the rest of the apple is fine to use.
* Save apple peels & cores (if unaffected by coddling moth) to make apple scrap vinegar with. It’s great for lots of things, from salad dressings to cleaning liquid to hair conditioner!
Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 6: Produce no waste; 10: Use and value diversity; 11: Use edges and value the marginal.
Here are some other jams for you to try….