Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Blackberry, elderberry and damson jelly

blackberry elderberry damson jelly blackberries elderberries damsons preserve preserves preserving autumn fruit fruits apple apples

It's that time of year again! All the paths around where we live are full of the dark autumn fruits and all waiting to be picked for free! On the school walk I had spotted a couple of damson trees so I decided I wanted to make the best autumn fruit jelly of them all – damson jelly. I found some windfall damsons but frustratingly most of them were still high up on the tree. I was determined not to go home empty handed as I knew there was plenty of elderberries further on the way home plus blackberries. Master JibberJabber was quite tired after his first week at school so he didn't want to hang around for too long which meant I didn't have a huge amount of fruit but just enough it seems to make a jar of jelly.

Elderberries are quite low in pectin which helps jellies to set. I found two sorry looking apples in my fruit bowl (probably Royal Galas) so I added them in as well to help with the pectin levels. Don't forget to add the pips! Also keep the damsons whole with the stone still in the middle. Some people will put all of the elderberry stalk in the jelly mix but I prefer to take them off the stalk as I'm after that rich berry flavour. Don't worry if some bits of stalk fall through as they won't get put the straining process. In my usual haphazard way I didn't weigh out the different fruits individually but just added them all in and it works fine.

Equipment: Large high sided saucepan, jelly strainer stand, jelly bag or muslin square, glass jug, 2 small plates/saucers, freezer, jam thermometer (optional) 1 standard sized jam jar and lid.

1lb 10oz (750g) Mix of blackberries, elderberries and damsons
2 Eating apples, unpeeled and diced, include any pips
1 pint (570ml) Water
450g Granulated sugar for each 600ml of liquid. I had 550ml so used 400g of granulated sugar (rounded down from 412g)


1. Put the fruit into the saucepan and add the water.
2. Bring to the boil and mash the fruit lightly to help extract the juices. Reduce to a simmer.
3. Cook for about 30-45 minutes making sure the fruit doesn't burn.
4. Set up your jelly strainer and put a glass jug underneath.
5. Spoon some the fruit and juices into the jelly strainer. Add small amounts until all the mixture is in the strainer.
6. Leave to strain for about an hour. Do not be tempted to squeeze the bag as this will result in a cloudy jelly.
7. Check the volume of liquid and calculate the amount of sugar required. 600ml requires 450g. 550ml requires 400g of sugar.
8. Put the plates or saucers into the freezer.
9. Ensure the jar is clean and dry. Put into the oven to sterilize at 120°C/Gas mark ½-1.
10. Pour the jelly liquid back in the large saucepan (ensure no bits remaining in the pan) and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and stir gently to dissolve.
11. Keep at a rolling boil for about 10-12 minutes and then try the setting point. If using the thermometer this should read about 104ºC/220ºF.
12. Take one of the plates out of the freezer and drop a small amount of the liquid onto the plate. Push it with the spoon and if it wrinkles and moves it is ready to bottle. If not keep boiling and try again in a minute.
13. Quickly take the pan off the heat and take the jar out of the oven (remember it will be hot!).
14. Pour jelly into the jar. Skim any scum off the top. Put the lid on immediately to ensure that 'pop' when first opened.

At Eco-Gites of Lenault
Hosted by Allotment2Kitchen

Hosted by Lavender and Lovage and Farmersgirl Kitchen


  1. I had added your other blackberry jelly recipe to my 10 Brilliant Blackberry Recipes post link up but have switched it for this one as I think it is more unusual. I also make a similar jelly with blackberries, crab-apples, sloes and elderberries which we eat with lamb and chicken as well as on toast.

  2. Lovely sounding jelly. I've yet to go and pick some blackberries - better hurry up or other hungry foragers will get there first :)

  3. That's a really good way of using so many hedgerow fruits, looks great. Thanks for joining us for The Great British Blackberry Recipe Round Up.

  4. I love foraging for free, sadly I haven't had much time to do it this year with long hours at work. This is lovely and so so seasonal. I adore the colour too. The round up will be up today. PS I nearly missed it as you had not e mailed it to me.


I appreciate your comments. If you have any tips, tricks or tweaks please pass them on!