It’s mulberry season and the neighbourhood tree is teeming with juicy and sweet purple fruit. I have fond memories of mulberry picking as a child, getting covered in purple stains while stuffing my mouth. Our neighbourhood tree is on a vacant block across the road from our house and is at least five metres high. How lucky are we.
At this time each year the sound of children fill the air, their bikes dropped on the stained footpath, while they climb the giant tree and eat at the same time. Cars often stop and people laden with buckets disappear under its huge leafy branches. I once even saw a neighbour appear with a ladder to get the juiciest fruit higher up.
My mother in-law also has a mulberry tree in her garden and has been handing over containers full for the last week. My usual way to deal with an abundance of fruit (when it’s not humanly possible to eat it all) is to freeze them and pull them out when needed. This year however, I thought I should attempt making homemade jam.
Making jam is surprisingly simple. What do you need?
- Old jars with lids (I used 6 jars)
- Large pot of water for sterilising the jars (I used a 20 litre pot)
- Large pot for stewing fruit and making the jam
- Blender (optional)
- Wear old clothes you don’t mind getting stained
- 1.5kg berry fruit
- 1.5kg caster sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tblsp lemon juice
- 50g pectin (jam setter)
Unfortunately I didn’t have the required 1.5kg of fruit, so I had to adapt my measurements to suit. My mulberries weighed 1.03kg. So I needed approximately 1/3 less pectin. To recalculate how much pectin I needed, I simply divided the 1.03kg by 1.5kg to get the ratio 0.68. Then multiplied 0.68 by the 50g of pectin. The result = 34g. Sorry, I bet you didn’t expect a math lesson in a jam recipe 😊 The same amount of sugar and fruit is required, so 1.03kg caster sugar was used. I’d didn’t bother altering the lemon juice or water amounts.
First things first, sterilise your jars and lids in a large pot of boiling water for at least five minutes. Once removed, place them on a tray and dry them in an 150C oven for thirty minutes.
While the jars are sterilising, blend your fruit in a blender. I prefer my jam not to have big lumps of fruit in it, but if you like yours more rustic, you can skip this bit. I also didn’t remove the mulberry stalks. The blender did a good job of mixing them through, but any stalk survivors were scooped out before cooking.
In another large pot, gently heat through the fruit with the water and lemon juice until the fruit has softened.
Add the sugar and pectin and stir continuously until fully dissolved. Bring it to the boil and continuously boil for 10 minutes.
Pour into the prepared jars while the jam is still hot and bubbling and put the lids on straight away. To create a vacuum to seal the jar, turn the jar over and leave it upside down. Upend the jars and leave them to cool down completely. The jam setting agent, pectin, should do its work and thicken into a jam as it cools.
The jam should last for up to two years in the pantry, but I don’t think they will last that long in my house. Besides they’re great to give away as gifts.