Capture the taste of autumn with this delicious Sloe and Blackberry Hedgerow Jam recipe.
The sweet blackberries and sharp sloes make the perfect partners.
Updated post, originally published in 2016
I do love a wild blackberry jam and, with sloes in season at a similar time of year, sloe jam is also a favourite way to use those wild crops.
However, for me, I can think of very little better jam than blending delicious hedgerow fruits.
A hedgerow jam recipe is generally a combination of seasonal wild fruits, which can include apples, crab apples, haw berries, elderberries, wild blackberry, sloes, damsons and more.
This wonderful wild blackberry and sloe jam combination is one which I have been really wanting to share with you.
I honestly feel a bit of a fraud bringing you a jam recipe, as in the past I have had more jammy failures than I have successes.
The elusive setting point that is talked about so freely is something that has to date eluded me completely.
The one time my jam did set I think was by pure luck.
However, I now have a couple of tricks in my arsenal that makes me confident of nailing any future jam making extravaganza.
Firstly, and controversially within the hardcore jam making community, I used a jam sugar.
This sugar already has pectin added and it’s an easy balance between equal amounts of fruit and sugar.
You can find jam sugars in the supermarket quite easily these days, and as 1 kilo of sugar makes about 3 large jars of jam it doesn’t work out too pricey either (I used the Tate & Lyle brand).
My second little trick is using the Thermapen digital thermometer.
This British-made gadget is essential for those that are into making preserves as it takes away any guesswork.
How to Make Sloe and Wild Blackberry Hedgerow Jam
1/ let’s go foraging!
Firstly you need to grab your basket and head outdoors.
Blackberries were top of my agenda, but I was open to anything else I could throw in my basket.
I ended up with a good crop of sloes, a few damsons and a handful of elderberries.
2/ preparing the fruit
When you get home, weigh out your fruit.
Scatter it out on a tray or baking sheet and pick out any bugs and debris.
I didn’t wash my fruit as I didn’t want to add any water to the mix but if you feel the need, be sure to dry it well afterwards.
3/ prepare your equipment and space
When making jam it’s good practice to get all your other supplies ready before you start work.
- A large, preferably stainless steel, jam pan
- Kitchen scales, preferably digital for accuracy
- a large wooden spoon
- A jam or digital thermometer
- small plate placed into the freezer
- Sterile jam funnel. These are often plastic, but I would invest in a stainless steel one that will last forever
- Sterile glass jars, jam discs and cellophane lids with rubber bands, or self or locking jars like Kilner jars.
- Jam jar lifter
- Labels to mark on the contents and date the jam was made
- Fabric jam covers if you wish to make your jars of jam extra pretty.
- Clean cloths and tea towels
I also like to clear all the kitchen counters, put away any washing up, and wipe down all the kitchen surfaces.
And I half fill the kitchen sink with hot soapy water so I can quickly rinse hands or sticky equipment as necessary.
4/ heat your jam
Pop the fruit in a jam pan, or a very large heavy bottomed saucepan.
Weigh out the equal amount of jam sugar and tip that in too.
Heat the contents over a medium high heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
Your soon-to-be hedgerow jam will start out looking crystal-like and then turn soupy as the sugar dissolves and the juices flow from the fruits.
5/ boil your jam
When you stir your jam and there are no sugar crystals left on the back of it, turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
At this point get ready with your thermometer.
Keep the mixture boiling until it reaches the magic number of 105c (220f).
Happily, it only takes 3 seconds to record the correct temperature with a Thermapen thermometer so I could dip in and out safely until I got to temperature!
6/ test if your jam has set
Another way to check if the jam is done is to take the small plate out of the freezer and dab two or three drops of jam syrup from your pan onto the ice cold plate.
The cold will quickly chill the jam. Then you can simply push your finger tip into the jam – if it wrinkles, it’s ready to put into jars. If however it’s still wet and your finger runs through it, it needs cooking for a little longer.
7/ pour your jam into jam jars
Lay a clean tea towel out on your work surface, and place your hot sterile jars on it. Be careful not to touch the rims or insides of the jars with your fingers, you need everything to stay sterile.
Always use hot jars for jam making. The jam is so hot that if you pour it into cold jars, the glass may shatter.
Place the sterile jam funnel into a jar and creafully pour or ladle your jam in.
8/ seal your jam jars
If there’s any jam splatters on the rim of your jars, wipe away with a clean cloth dipped in a little hot water.
Tightly screw on your lids, or use the wax discs and cellophane jam lids to seal the jars.
Leave until cool before testing the lids have sealed and wiping your jars down with a hot soapy cloth.
Finally, add a label with the name of your jam and the date.
Tips to making jam with sloes
Sloes have small stones in the centre, much like plums.
Ideally you’d remove them before making jam, but they are small and not juicy like plums so it’s not an easy task.
As it’s only my Mum and I that eat this hedgerow jam, I usually leave the stones in the fruit.
During cooking they will mostly float to the top of the jam. They’ll look yellow against the mass of purpley black jam and I hook them out with my wooden spoon a I see them.
Inevitably some will still be in the jam when you bottle it up, so you may wish to put a little safety warning on the label.
Also, it would be wise not to feed this jam to children if you can’t be sure you removed all of the sloe stones.
How do I get rid of the scum on top of my jam as it cooks?
You can simply scoop it away using a clean ladle or wooden spoon.
Some people add a small knob of butter to their jam as it boils which apparently clears the scum away. Personally, I didn’t bother as I wanted to keep mine fully dairy free.
The scum doesn’t affect the taste at all and is perfectly safe to consume but it doesn’t look particularly pretty.
What does blackberry and sloe jam taste like?
Whilst overall this jam recipe is very sweet. It also has an amazing sharpness, which it gains from those sloes.
It’s like a bitter marmalade, the perfect balance of sweet and sour.
If you give it a go, do let me know what you think!
Sloe and Blackberry Hedgerow Jam Recipe
I’ve recently made a fun little video of this recipe whilst foraging the hedges on our little farm in Cornwall.
Hopefully, it’ll prove just how easy this hedgerow jam is to make!
If you’re looking to use up your blackberry haul this season, you will find lots more tasty blackberry recipes on the blog.
I’d love to hear what you make with yours!
- 1 kg hedgerow fruits - bugs, leaves & stems removed
- 1 kg jam sugar - or an equal amount to the fruit you have
- 1 tsp butter - optional
- Heat the fruit & sugar together in a jam pan or very large heavy bottomed saucepan.
- When the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil until the jam reaches 105c (220f).
- Test for setting point by dabbing a little jam onto a cooled plate and doing the 'wrinkle test' once it has cooled.
Pop in a dab of butter if using which will clear the scum from the surface. I don't bother as I like to leave my jam totally dairy free.
- Pour the jam into pre-sterilised and hot jam jars before placing a jam disc and cellophane lid on.
- Let cool before labelling with contents, date and a warning about the sloe stones.
Huge thanks to Thermapen for sponsoring this recipe and allowing me to continue bringing you tasty new recipes, for free. As always all thoughts, and leftovers, are my own.