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How to make bramble (blackberry) jam

  • Makes approx. two jars.

Bramble jam is perfectly delicious on hot buttered toast, smeared onto scones or adding a dollop to flavour to yoghurt, ice cream or rice pudding.

Jars of bramble jam. © Caz Buckingham

It’s a hot day in late summer and you’ve returned home with a punnet of inky purple blackberries. What next? It doesn’t take long to turn them into pots of delicious bramble jam, ready to eat at once or to savour as a taste of summer in the colder months ahead.

Every part of the bramble plant has been used by humans – for treating health problems such as bleeding gums; for dyeing cloth; but perhaps best of all, for making pies, jellies, cordials and, of course blackberry jam.

Did you know that bramble or blackberry actually refers to hundreds of microspecies which are all very slightly different from one another and which can produce seeds without being fertilised? This is the reason why one blackberry may be plump and juicy and taste absolutely delicious, while one from a nearby plant tastes … less so!

Using the ingredient measurements below, this recipe will make a small batch of perhaps two jars. Simply double or treble the recipe as required. You will also need wax discs to put on the surface of each jar.

Bramble jam in a jar. © Caz Buckingham
Bramble jam in a jar. © Caz Buckingham
Blackberry vodka. © Elena Kirey/Getty

How to identify blackberries

Blackberries are one of the most distinctive wild fruits, growing on the very widespread bramble plant. Blackberries start green in colour, progressing to red and dark purple, before turning a glossy black when ripe. They can be confused with wild raspberries (red when ripe) and dewberries (waxy black when ripe).


When to pick blackberries

Depending on the location in the UK (with the south normally seeing ripe fruits first), the first ripe blackberries are usually seen from mid to late July onwards, but the real harvest is typically from mid August onwards into autumn.

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus). Faba Photography/Getty
Blackberries. © Faba Photography/Getty Images

Traditionally, blackberries shouldn’t be picked after Old Michaelmas Day on 10 October (used to be 29 September until the calendar reform in 1752), as this is when Lucifer was expelled from Heaven and landed in a bramble bush. He cursed the thorny bush, stamping and spitting on the blackberries.


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Ingredients

  • Blackberries 350g
  • Preserving sugar 350g
  • Lemon juice From 1 lemon

Method

  • Step 1

    Put a small plate into the freezer and wash some jam jars and lids thoroughly. Once clean, place the jars onto a baking tray in the oven on a low heat for 10 minutes in order to sterilise them.

    Sterilising jam jars in an oven. © Christopher Hopefitch/Getty
    Sterilising jam jars in an oven. © Christopher Hopefitch/Getty Images
  • Step 2

    In a preserving pan or large, wide saucepan, mix the sugar, lemon juice and blackberries, stirring the mixture over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.

  • Step 3

    Now turn up the heat until the jam has reached boiling point and continue to let it boil for about 15 minutes. Place a teaspoon of the jam onto the cold plate, leave for a few minutes, and then push a finger into the side of the mixture. If wrinkles appear on the surface, then the jam has reached setting point. You could use a jam thermometer instead!

    Home made blackberry jam reaching boiling point. © Sharon Vos-Arnold/Getty
    Home made blackberry jam reaching boiling point. © Sharon Vos-Arnold/Getty Images
  • Step 4

    Let the jam rest in the pan for about 10 minutes and then pour it into the prepared jam jars. Place a wax disc on the surface of each jar and then seal with the lid. After your jam has cooled, label, date and store your jars somewhere cool and dark until they are needed.

    Jars of bramble jam. © Caz Buckingham
    Jars of bramble jam. © Caz Buckingham

This recipe has been adapted from The Little Book of Wild Flowers by Andrea Pinnington and Can Buckingham, produced in association with Plantlife, £7.99.

Caz Buckingham and Andrea Pinnington have collaborated on over 40 natural-history titles. When they are not making books, they can be found outside – cameras in hand – closely observing our wild world. They founded Fine Feather Press in 2010 with the aim of bringing nature closer to everyone.

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The Little Book Of Wild Flowers jacket
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