Last Autumn I went blackberry picking and made by accident the most amazing Blackberry Treacle (it was supposed to be a jelly but it has the consistency of treacle) Picking the blackberries was in itself a bit of a palaver, the bushes near my home had been well picked so I needed to wander somewhat further afield than I had initially intended. Then once I’d got to the new blackberry picking spot the skies darkened so it was a bit of a race to pick before the heavens opened.
I wasn’t really wearing the right footwear for climbing about in the hedgerow too much and so when I accidentally stepped into a giant nettle patch I was propelled forward into the heart of the bramble bush, came face to face with a huge spider (far closer to my eyes than I like anything with eight legs to be) jumped back with half the brambles entwined around my arms and legs and finally finished off what was turning into a perfect afternoon by stepping in some fox poop. Needless to say I looked somewhat bedraggled by the time I got home and when I saw my reflection in the hall way looking glass I realised I was still half covered in brambles and cobwebs.
Anyway, I then made what was supposed to be a blackberry jam but even after cooking, the blackberries were as hard as bullets, so I sieved the mixture and brought it back to the boil to make a jelly. Only after pouring it in to two jam jars did I realise that I had forgotten to put in any extra water so I was a bit worried quite what I had made. But it was one of those happy accidents, and instead of a gleaming,translucent jelly, I had two jars full of what looked like a dark purple treacle but which tasted the very essence of Autumn.
I was hoping to pick some more this last week before the devil had a wee on them (so my nanny always told me) but the weather has been so wild, wet and windy that I’ve stayed indoors and hoped that that particular gentleman at least had a brolly.
1 kg wild blackberries
800kg granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Pick the blackberries over, and give them a quick rinse in cold water. Strain them in a colander.
In a large pan, mix the blackberries and the sugar, and squeeze the lemon juice over them. Bring to a gentle simmer and then turn off the heat. Pour the contents into a shallow glass bowl. Cover with a circle of baking parchment directly on top of the fruit, and leave overnight in the fridge.
Next day, pour the mixture back into a large pan, and bring to a boil while you gently stir it. Cook on a high heat for about 7 or 8 minutes while you keep stirring it.
Take it off the heat and pour through a sieve (take care as it will be hot) and you can press the fruit with the back of a metal spoon.
Now pour the liquid into a clean pan and bring back to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Check the set, it will be softer than a regular jelly and more like a jam.
Pour the thick dark liquid into sterilised jars and seal the tops with waxed discs.
It might seem a bit of a hoo hah to make but is well worth the effort. It doesn’t make as much as a regular blackberry jelly but it has a much deeper and more delicious taste. It’s really lovely on spiced bread (teacakes, cinnamon bagel etc) and is very nice spread in the centre of a chocolate cake. It seems to keep well once opened if the jar is kept in the fridge.