Slow September Days - Blackberry & Bay Leaf Jam
Mother Nature has certainly turned down the thermostat. Dark nights seem to have arrived out of nowhere and it's blooming chilly at bedtime. Socks and blankets are much needed and appreciated. I simply love this time of year and I'm most definitely an Autumn girl - jumpers, woolly hats and coats make me very happy. I never know what to wear or how to dress in Summer. I'm always too hot, I hate showing my arms or legs, sandals always give me blisters and I never feel comfortable. Autumn is all about covering up and getting cozy, so hurrah for that! Being outdoors is even more special at this time of year - the leaves are changing colour or dropping gently from above, the branches heavy with fruits, nuts, berries and rosehips. The morning sun casts beautiful light in my home and I've already seen a spectacular mist over a field on my way home from the school run. Autumn is glorious and I say bring on the hot water bottles.
September is my birthday month and I celebrated being 44 last week. I went for a lovely meal in Leeds with my husband, made a cake of almond and elderflower (it was so good and the recipe is from here) then finished the day with a movie on the sofa. As I got a little spending money I did treat myself to a couple of houseplants (the fern in the right picture is a really pretty shade of blue/green and was from @theplantroom and the string of pearls plant from Forest London which hangs next to this beautiful brass circle candle holder from Plumo. Little changes to my home that make me very happy.
I've spent many happy hours foraging for berries, sloes and rosehips. The berries and the sloes are going into gin and vodka to see me through the winter. The rosehips I plan to make a syrup with as I remember my Granny feeding me this when I had a cold as a child and it being a great help in making me feel better. I've managed to fill my giant bowl with blackberries several times over and the freezer is stuffed with them. I've been planning on making jam for so long and finally I got around to giving it a go. Jam making takes time and it's great for being present and focused. Stirring the jam slowly and enjoying the heady scents of the berries and bay leaves as it cooks is heavenly, concentrating on getting the right temperature and keeping it at that point can be hard but it helps if you have a cooking thermometer. For a first time jam maker I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I left some of the seeds in which I know isn't ideal for everyone but you could easily sieve them all out as part of the process. I bought these French jam jars from here, a pack of six and with the measurements below it filled all the jars. I'll be doing another batch and giving these away to family for gifts at Christmas. Adding the bay leaves to the berries creates something softer - an almost floral yet warming flavour. I used four small leaves that I'd previously picked and dried from my garden. Bought ones from a packet tend to be a bit bigger so I'd only pop two of those in to the the pan. We've been eating it smothered with butter on toast, sandwiched with cream between a sponge cake (my own personal favourite way to eat jam) and on a freshly baked scone. Recipe is below.
Finally if you are in need of some Autumn inspiration then go check out my lovely hashtag on Instagram - #slowautumndays. There are over 4,000 images on there now which is incredible. What I love most about it this little project is that you can find lots of ideas for craft, days out, slow living, food and of course bringing a little of autumn into the home. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the hashtag. Enjoy the rest of your week. xx
Blackberry & Bay Leaf Jam
1.5kg blackberries, fresh or frozen
1kg jam sugar
1 lemon, zested
4 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
2 dried bay leaves
In a large, heavy saucepan mix together the blackberries, jam sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and bay leaves.
Bring to the boil, stir until the sugar is all dissolved and lighting mash the blackberries.
Lower the heat a little and simmer until the fruit is soft. It should take around fifteen minutes. (I use a jam thermometer for this part as it is a good idea to keep an eye on the temperature).
Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Press the jam through a sieve if you want to get rid of the seeds at this point. I left half in and removed half. Return the strained jam to the saucepan.
Boil again for a couple of minutes then remove the bay leaves.
Spoon the hot jam into hot sterilized jars and cover immediately with sterilised lids.