Blackberry Jam With No Pectin

The act of jam making is the capturing of the season's spirit; cold summers lead to pour yields meaning that the jars in the larder dwindle and barely touch each other. Warm summers, full of sun and rain that comes in the evenings, falling in your silent dreams results in jars that clink beside each other on the shelves. Bottled memories of yesterday. My Dad made strawberry wine, wine as soft as summer itself that lingered on your tongue and gooseberry wine that blew a summer storm through your tastebuds. He took those recipes with him when he died. There will be no more tales of family dogs found under wine barrels, the faulty tap releasing drips into their open mouths. Making jam to me conjures up everyone that has been in my family, it is the kitchen full of steam and red faces, it is my grandparents and parents coming back from foraging. It is love in a jar because let's face facts for all the energy involved, you could simple buy cheap jam from the supermarket, and if you do, you are missing the point. The act of making jam is a covenant with your future self. Making it is easier than you think it will be, making it will sometimes be more frustrating than you think it will be but it is an agreement with yourself that on one day you sat beside a pan and performed magic. My Dad did this. My Mum does this. My sister does this. My wife does this and my son does too. We are the forgotten magicians in a world run mad with gadgets. This jam takes barely an hour to make and weeks to eat over winter on warm buttered toast.

Jam jars

There is no mystery behind the making of jam. Use jam jars or Kilner jars. Use something that will keep the jam airtight and if you are concerned, a cool fridge will keep your jam going. Just sterilise the jars first. You can see how to do this in a microwave in our strawberry jam with no pectin recipe. Nowadays, we don't have a microwave, so we use boiling water to sterilise our jars. You can do this by placing them in a large pan of boiling water or pouring several kettles of boiling water over them in a super clean sink. We prefer the pan method. To make blackberry jam with no pectin, you will need 1kg of berries. These were freshly foraged by Carol's parents.


Two lemons, unwaxed.


1kg to 1.5kg of sugar depending on how sweet you like your jam. 


Place your blackberries in a heavy bottom pan or jam pan (we are not pan snobs) and add the sugar. Place on a low heat to reduce the berries and sugar to an unctuous mix.

Blackberries in sugar

Now, the fun bit. Juice two lemons by cutting them in half and juicing them on a juicer (see photo to see what a juicer is, it's not fancy, it's not a modern gadget, it's the application of muscle over fruit). Keep the seed and the rind (that's the lemon skin).

Lemon juicer

Lemon juicer

Pour the juice into a jug, save those seeds by putting a sieve over the jug. The juice will trickle through but any pith or seed will be saved.


Lemon juice

Add the juice to the blackberry and sugar mix. You can add other flavours at this point, scented geraniums often work well in jams, just remember to take the leaves out before you place the jam in the jars.


Your jam jars should be sterilised by now. Make sure at this point that you have a jam funnel or a steady hand with a ladle.

Jam jars

Place the lemon rind in the pan and place the lemon seeds in a muslin bag or in a sieve. Jam rind, juice and seeds are high in pectin. When we say no pectin we mean no need to buy those fiddly packets. Sorry, we're not lying, we're just being natural in our products.


Place a plate in the freezer. Bring the jam to a rolling boil, then turn down, then return to a boil, stirring all the time, then turn down. The idea here is thicken up the fruit mix, activate the pectin in the lemons and make jam. You can skim off any scum on the surface if you wish but we have a great tip for taking this away at the end. Taste, remember to blow first or allow to cool, add flavours to the jam if you wish, this is your jam so don't be afraid, rose flavours work well with blackberries.


Take the plate from the freezer after 10-15 minutes of cooking your fruit mix. With practice you will know when the mix will set, the wooden spoon in the pan will meet more resistance as you stir. Place a spoonful of the mix on the cold plate, if it sets to a jam consistency, it is ready to jar.

Jam thickening

Take the pan off the boil immediately and add a knob of butter and stir. This will get rid of any scum left. Now grab your jam funnel or get that person with the steady hand and ladle. Start to ladle the mix into the jars, yes we are being rebellious and using Kilner jars because we prefer them; no we won't be winning any WI competitions with our entry.

Jam funnel

Your mix should fill three 500 ml jars perfectly with a little left to try on some crusty butter bread. It is the memory of childhood, is the history of my family in every bite.

Jam jars, Kilner

If this recipe hits the right tastebuds with you and there are plenty of blackberries to forage this season, can we suggest some other recipes to try? Make your own red cabbage for Bonfire Night here or pickle your runner beans or French beans for Christmas Day here

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