Are you ready for the most mouthwatering recipe made from foraged produce? Look no further than Bramble Jelly – a heavenly treat that practically makes itself with just two ingredients. And the best part? The main ingredient is completely FREE!
What Exactly Are Brambles?
Late August to October marks the season of brambles, often referred to as wild blackberries. These little wonders can be found peeking through hedges, lining fields and meadows, and springing up along woodland paths and roadsides. But be warned, they aren’t easy to handle! With thorny branches that grasp onto your clothes and hair like original barbed wire, it’s best to don a pair of gloves before embarking on your foraging adventure.
Compared to their cultivated counterparts, brambles have a tangier, more robust flavor and are slightly less sweet. Their hard core makes them a little trickier to pick, unlike raspberries and farmed blackberries. The sweetest brambles are the ones enjoyed straight off the plants, with fingers pricked by thorns and stained with their luscious juice. Embrace the true essence of “pick-your-own” – there is no checkout line at the end of this berry-picking journey!
A Forager’s Dream
Foraging may seem intimidating, especially to those of us who grew up in cities. But fear not! Bramble picking is the perfect gateway into the world of foraging. Unlike scarce and camouflaged wild mushrooms or elusive lily-of-the-valley-mimicking wild garlic, brambles are plentiful and easily recognizable. The only downside? The pips.
The Pesky Pips
Brambles are seriously pippy! Even if you’re not one to fuss over seedless raspberry jam, you might find yourself grudgingly opting for cultivated blackberries when it comes to baking. However, when it comes to jamming, store-bought fruit can be quite expensive, making brambles the ultimate free jamming material. Plus, spending an enjoyable afternoon picking brambles adds an extra layer of satisfaction to the whole process.
Why Bramble Jelly and Not Bramble Jam?
Making jelly is similar to making jam, but it works particularly well with pippy fruits like brambles. The recipe below yields a deliciously seedless jam, rather than jellied fruit juice. After all the effort of picking organic fruit, adding gelatin just feels wrong. That’s where pectin comes in – the natural gelling agent that occurs freely in fruits, giving jams and jellies their perfect set.
You might think you need one of those intimidating, wasp nest-like contraptions suspended above a jar to make jelly. But fear not! A colander and muslin cloth are all you need. Simply wash the brambles before processing, especially if they were collected near roads, to rid them of dust and pollution. If you picked them in the heart of the countryside, you can skip the washing and add a splash of water during cooking instead.
Drip, Drip, Drip Goes the Bramble Jelly
To create your bramble jelly, set a colander or large sieve over a pan with enough clearance for juice to drip freely. Line it with a double layer of muslin cloth, and let it drip organic goodness overnight for perfectly clear jelly. However, if you’re like me – far too eager to taste the results – gently squeeze the muslin cloth in the morning to achieve a jam-like, pulpy consistency. Don’t worry, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall approves of this small deviation from the traditional method.
Determining When Your Jelly is Set
The collected juice mixes with sugar, just like ordinary jam. For every liter of juice, use 750g of jam sugar. To determine when the jelly is ready to be transferred into jars, you have two options. The first is using a jam thermometer – patiently waiting for it to reach 105°C (221°F). Beware, it feels like forever for the temperature to rise those last few degrees, so don’t be tempted to turn it off early unless you prefer your jelly on the runny side.
The second method is the frozen plate trick. Drop a blob of jelly onto a plate that has been kept in the freezer while the jelly cooks. Give it a moment, then prod it. If it looks and feels like jelly, and, most importantly, tastes like jelly, it’s done! Let it rest for about ten minutes before transferring it into sterilized jars. Over the next few days, your bramble jelly will mature in flavor and set just a bit more – if you can resist devouring it right away.
So, grab your gloves and head out to explore the bountiful brambles nature has to offer. Enjoy the thrill of foraging and the art of preserving this delightful fruit into a mesmerizingly sweet Bramble Jelly. For more foodie inspiration, visit BDK Restaurant. Happy foraging and happy jelly making!