Blackberry & Apple Jelly is a classic and delicious jelly that is the perfect way to preserve the flavours of autumn (fall). I will take you step-by-step through the process of making jelly with this simple recipe.
I always have mixed feelings when I start to see the blackberries form on the thorny bramble branches. I love to pick, cook, and eat blackberries, but they herald the end of the summer, shorter days, and the coming of winter.
I like to preserve those delicious flavours so that we can enjoy them throughout the winter and into the spring. Blackberry & Apple Jelly is very much a part of the country tradition and it has endured because it tastes so good!
What is Jelly?
This Blackberry & Apple Jelly is a strained preserve that is like jam but without any seeds or pieces of fruit. In the UK we also refer to a set gelatine dessert as a jelly. And in the USA all fruit preserves, whether with bits or without are referred to as jelly.
What does Blackberry & Apple Jelly taste like?
Tastes are really hard to describe but Blackberry & Apple Jelly tastes less sweet than strawberry jam but sweeter than redcurrant jelly. It has a slightly floral, spicy taste.
According to The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit there are hundreds of different strains of wild blackberry. And a berry picked in one location may taste quite different from another a few feet away. Niki suggests looking for notes of rose, mint, cedar and clove or even tropical fruit as well as the classic berry flavours.
What are Blackberries?
Blackberries are the fruit of a usually prickly bush which is part of the rose family. Each individual blackberry, when ripe, is made up of 20-50 single seeds known as drupelets that are small, juice-filled, and a deep purplish-black when ripe.
Are brambles the same as blackberries?
In Scotland blackberries are known as brambles, the terms can be used interchangeably. Sometimes the long, prickly arching stems are referred to as the brambles and the fruit the blackberries. Whatever you call them, they are absolutely delicious!
Where can I find Blackberries?
Wild blackberries grow in all kinds of places. You will find them growing over ruined buildings, at the edges of woodlands, in parks, and in hedgerows. I even have them invading my garden!
You can buy cultivated blackberries at markets, in supermarkets and green grocer’s shops. You can also grow the cultivated varieties in your garden. One of the advantages of cultivated blackberries is that you can get thornless varieties.
How do I pick blackberries
If you’ve never picked wild blackberries or brambles, then here are a few tips to help you with your foraging and avoid disappointment.
- Blackberries are at their best towards the latter half of summer, peaking in August and early September.
- You will find blackberries in woods, hedges, roadside verges, and possibly even your garden.
- Do not trespass on private property, always ask if you see blackberries in an area that looks private.
- Don’t pick blackberries close to a busy road as the berries will be covered in pollution from exhaust fumes.
- Pick only berries that are fully black and shiny. Mature berries are plump yet firm, a deep black colour, and pull free from the plant without a yank. Berries do not ripen after being picked.
- Once you pick each berry check the core (see photo above) it should be white and not discoloured. If it is brown then the berry is past its best and should go into the compost.
- Pick blackberries during the cooler parts of the day. Once picked, place berries in the shade and refrigerate as soon as possible
- Once you get your berries home, pour them out into trays or baking trays in a single layer, and remove any soft or unripe berries and random leaves.
- Don’t wash the berries until you are ready to use them or freeze them. Washing makes them more prone to spoiling.
Can I freeze blackberries?
Blackberries freeze really well. You simply place them on a tray in a single layer. Open freeze and then put into a freezer-proof container.
How long can I keep frozen blackberries?
If properly frozen, then you can keep them for up to 12 months. I have, however, used blackberries that I have had in the freezer for 2 years without any reduction in quality. Some years are better than others for blackberries so I like to pick extra in a good year and freeze.
What kind of apples can I use?
You can use any sharp flavoured apples to make your Blackberry & Apple Jelly. I use dessert apples from my apple tree, although they are for eating, they are sharp enough to provide enough pectin for the jelly to set. You can also use cooking apples such as Bramley Seedlings.
I sometimes use Crab Apples if I can find them or are given them by friends. These sharp little apples are perfect for making jelly. The ones in the photograph are particularly small, they came from a tree in our field. However, you can get others that are slightly larger and have a pink flush.
Can I freeze apples to make jelly later?
Apples are available pretty much all year round so it’s not usually necessary to freeze them. However, if you have an apple tree you may with to freeze unsweetened apple puree which you can use to make your jelly.
I successfully made some Blackberry & Apple Jelly with apple puree and frozen blackberries in January.
Why make Blackberry & Apple Jelly and not jam?
Blackberry Jam is delicious and I do have a recipe for Spiced Blackberry Jam. However, the jam is better made with cultivated blackberries because wild blackberries have lots of hard seeds which make it less pleasant to eat than the jelly.
How to make Blackberry & Apple Jelly
I’ll take you through the steps to make Blackberry & Apple Jelly. It takes a little time but it’s not difficult, just follow the steps.
Cook the blackberries and apples until soft
Put the washed blackberries and roughly chopped apples ina pan and add water.
In this picture you can see that I used frozen blackberries and crab apples, but the process is exactly the same with fresh berries and other types of apple.
Fill the jelly bag with the cooked fruit
- Line a sieve with your jelly bag or muslin and place over a large bowl.
- Use a ladle or large spoon to put the fruit and juice into the jelly bag.
Hang the jelly bag overnight
You can leave the jelly bag or muslin over the sieve to strain but you will get more juice if you hang the bag overnight.
Traditionally, you hang a jelly bag from a broom handle laid across two chairs. However, this takes up a lot of space and not everyone has a broom!
I use the doorknob on one of the cupboards in my utility room as a convenient hanging place. My jelly bag has loops but you can tie up a muslin cloth with string and leave a hanging loop.
Measure the juice
- Measure the juice
- Weigh the sugar
- Add both the pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved
Bring to a rolling boil
- Boil for 15 minutes then remove from the heat
- Test for set using the wrinkle test (see below)
- If not set, return to pan and boil for a further 5 minutes, then re-test.
Fill jars with Blackberry & Apple Jelly
- Scoop off the froth on top of the pan of jelly with a large spoon OR add a tsp of butter which will disperse the foam.
- Use a jam funnel and ladle the jelly into the sterilised jars. If you don’t have a jam funnel then simply use a large spoon.
- Seal the jars with lids or waxed discs and cellophane covers.
Note: The eagle-eyed among you will see that there is foam on the top of my jars. The foam is perfectly edible but, of course, the jars do look better if you remove it.
Jam & Jelly Making Tips and FAQs
In this section you will find tips and techniques to help you to make any jam or jelly.
Why do I need a large pan to make jam or jelly?
You need a large pan to make jams because when the sugar boils it rises in the pan. It will boil over if you don’t have a big enough pan.
How do I sterilise my jam jars?
I sterilise my jam jars and metal lids by thoroughly washing and rinsing them. I then put them, still wet, upside down onto a baking tray and place it in the oven at 150C just before I start to make the jam.
The water creates steam which helps to sterilise the jars. I take them out of the oven and fill them with the hot jam, then put on the lids. There are other methods but this is how I sterilise my jars.
Do I need to water bath my jelly?
No. I have never water-bathed jam or jelly. All my jams, jellies, and marmalade stay in good condition for at least a year kept in a cool dry cupboard.
In some countries, water bathing is common practice and often used for lower sugar recipes
What does a rolling boil look like?
I learned about jam-making from my Mum and my grandmother. A lot of what you learn in cooking and baking is very visual. It’s much easier to understand when you can see what you are aiming for.
So here is a little help with the main techniques for jam and jelly making. The video above will show you what a ”rolling boil’ looks like.
The Wrinkle Test – is the jam or jelly going to set?
Once the jam has boiled, you will need to check if it will set (firm up) once cooled. There are many different ways to test for setting point.
- Use a jam thermometer
- The ‘flake’ test where it drips off your spoon
- The wrinkle test
I always use the wrinkle test it is simple and has not failed me yet.
How do I do the wrinkle test?
Place some saucers in the fridge before you start making the jam because the cold plate helps speed up the cooling of the jam or jelly for the test.
Boil your jam or jelly for 15 minutes, take the pan off the heat, and put a teaspoon of the jam onto one of the cold saucers.
Place the saucer in the fridge and leave for 5 minutes. Then remove the saucer and push your finger across the jam or jelly. If it wrinkles, you can skim off the froth and pot up your jam or jelly. See the quick video above.
How do I serve Blackberry & Apple Jelly?
Blackberry & Apple Jelly is delicious on bread, toast, scones, and Scotch Pancakes. This jelly is elegant enough for a fancy afternoon tea with your best china. It also works well as a filling for a simple sponge sandwich cake.
Or warm gently and serve as a sauce over ice cream for a decadent dessert
More Jam & Jelly Recipes from Farmersgirl Kitchen
More Blackberry Recipes
More Fruit Jellies
- Kavey’s Apple Lemon Verbena Jelly – Kavey Eats
- Crab Apple Jelly – Fuss Free Flavours
- Rochelle’s Grape Jelly – It’s Not Easy Being Greedy
- Plum Jelly: Sunshine in a Jar – Kavey Eats
Blackberry & Apple Jelly
- large pan
- long wooden spoon
- jelly bag or muslin
- ladle or large serving spoon
- jam funnel (optional)
- 3 glass jam jars with lids
- 1 kg blackberries
- 500 g apples
- 150 ml water
- 1 kg sugar (approximately) You will need 450 grams of sugar for every 550 ml of juice.
- Wash the blackberries in a colander and remove any stems that remain on the fruit.
- Wash the apples and cut them out roughly without peeling.
- Put the blackberries and apples in the pan with the waterand simmer until the fruit is soft.
- Hang your jelly bag over a large bowl, and ladle the fruit mixture and juice into the jelly bag.
- Leave to strain overnight.
- Measure the juice and weigh the sugar. You will need 450 g of sugar for every 550 ml of juice.
- Put the juice and the sugar into a large pan and heat gently untill all the sugar has dissoved.
- Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat before testing for set using the wrinkle test.
- If not set bring back to a boil and boil for a further 5 minutes before testing again.
- Skim the bubbles from the top of jelly and with a large spoon OR add a tsp of butter which will disperse the froth.
- Fill the jam into sterilised jars using a jam funnel or carefully ladling the hot jelly into the jars and seal.
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