Tuesday 19 July 2016

Wild Raspberry Jam ...

... is a really tasty thing. I jest you not. Here in Ireland in the month of July wild raspberries grow at the fringes of the forest that are the sweetest, most raspberriest raspberries in the world. One of our favourite summer afternoon activities is going for a walk, and picking the wild raspberries as we wander. It's our thing in July. And yesterday we went armed with little buckets to harvest enough fruit to make some jam.

We ambled along with our dogs enjoying the hazy summer sunshine, and talking of summers long ago.

The forest was alive with insects. Moths and butterflies fluttered around, bees buzzed and midges nipped. They've got a particularly aggressive kind of biting fly here called a clag, and it is totally not an insect to ignore if it happens to land on your bare skin.

We found a couple of flies who looked as though they were having a party all of their own ... .

And a lazy beetle or two, who were also out for a promenade.

There's all kinds of fungus growing in the forest as well.

We found these logs and couldn't decide whether they were sporting top coats of fungus or lichen. Whatever the way of it they looked pretty amazing.

There were lots of wild flowers: field orchids ...

... purple thistles ...

 ... lots and lots of blossom on the brambles that bodes well for a bumper blackberry harvest later in the year ...

... and white and purple clover.

But the main event was down with the raspberry canes. There were stacks of sweet juicy berries.

And not very long afterwards our little buckets were satisfyingly full. We made sure to leave plenty behind too for the creatures of the forest.

And then we came home, got out my grandma's jam-making pan and made some jam. Raspberry jam is pretty easy. The flavour of the raspberries is so great that you don't need to add anything other than sugar, and there's enough pectin in the fruit so as not to have to use a setting agent. All you have to do is wash them, throw away any not so good ones, twigs, leaves and other bits of detritus that always seem to end up in the bucket. Weigh what's left. You'll need an equal weight of normal granulated sugar per weight of fruit to make the jam.

Weigh out your sugar, and heat it in the oven at about 150 ℃. Wash and sterilise your jam pots and lids.

Boil the fruit for several minutes until it breaks apart. Add the sugar, and keep the mixture on a gentle rolling boil for several minutes longer. Once you see it thickening slightly, and it seems to take longer to drip off the spoon, drop some onto a chilled saucer and test for a skin. It's ready when you start to see wrinkles forming on the surface of the jam when you push gently on it with one of your pinkies.

Bottle it up, add some wax seals and screw on your sterilised lids. And that's it, ta-dah, you've got some wild jam from the hedgerow!

All the best for now,

Bonny x

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