Spurred on by my earlier success I decided to experiment further. My neighbours have rallied to my request for jars, and I have now built up quite a stock.
There was an elder tree just the other side of the bridge dripping with ripe berries. I decided this must belong to Iona and Hedley who live in the house on the other side of the river to us and went to ask if they wanted the berries. On arriving there I was greeted by Iona's mother - Iona had been taken to hospital and she was expecting news of imminient third grandchild. She thought it would be fine to pick the berries as they would have other things to worry about.
On our 4 p.m. walk Hedley was driving back and stopped to let us know that Iona had had another boy, Wilfred, at lunch time and both were doing fine. I could pick as many berries as I liked...
After the walk I wandered over and picked about half a carrier bag full. I spent the evening removing the berries from their stalks with a fork, and ended up with about two and a half pounds.
I went brambling the next morning down the path to the field opposite our neighbour Margaret. I got about two pounds in about half an hour - they are so abundant. The recipe I had seen suggested equal amounts of elderberries and blackberries so I got another half a pound from the patch at the bottom of our drive.
I was all set after lunch to go. This was when I realised there was a major problem. I still don't have a jam pan, and was using a large saucepan. However, the saucepan was not large enough for the volume of fruit I had picked! I decided to process the elderberries first, and just extract the juice. I then measured how much I had - a pint and a half. Okay- reduce the recipe by about a third. I used one pint of juice and added a pound and three quarters of blackberries. Quickly calculated I needed about 3 pounds of sugar - recipes vary between three quarters and a pound of sugar per pound of fruit. The pan was still very full, and although I was trying to be very careful it still boiled over at one point. But it eventually reached the setting point, and I was fully prepared this time with jars ready. I got about four and a half pounds of jam this time.
I tried some today - it has a very distinctive strong flavour, presumably from the elderberries, and is a lovely deep red colour. It should last a long time as you don't need to use much to get the taste. The rosehip and apple has a much subtler flavour, and is a lovely orange colour - although Paul described it as vibrant.
I may use the spare juice with crab apples next...
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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