It is that time of year again when the blackberries turn a beautiful purple and my children start filling up cups and containers whenever they can.
They seem to get a real pleasure from finding ripe berries and of course picking them. Some are eaten straight from the bush but many are ‘collected’.
Of course I am not complaining. This means loads of vitamins, picked from a bush by the kids so they will actually want to eat them. On top of that, its organic and free!
Making jam with kids – What berries to use?
We like foraging as a family. So most often we use blackberries as they are easy to find, recognise and pick. Sometimes we use damson, which are a plum like fruit.
Other times of year we use frozen fruit which you can buy in any large supermarket. You can then mix the fruit as well. We often use strawberries with raspberries or with blackberries. But you can experiment with this and to be honest, I think all berries go nice together!
Making jam with kids – Where to find berries in nature?
The berry picking season is in full swing at the end of summer.
Many berry bushes are found in the hedgerows along paths and lanes. You might be able to find blackberries, damson, wild strawberries and sometimes plums.
Read more on foraging here: Foraging with Kids – a Great Starter Guide
Making jam with kids
When we have enough berries we wash them and put them in a pot with a tiny bit of water. I normally add just enough water to cover the bottom layer of berries in the pot.
Bring the berries to the boil, then turn to low and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes (or until the berries are soft).
We then add some sugar to sweeten the jam. I recommend to taste the berries first as some are sweeter than others. Strawberries might be fine for example, while blackberries tend to be more sour. We use the taste test here to decide how much sugar to use. This makes it more interacting and fun for the children too.
If the fruit we used have pips, we put the mixture through the sieve and push it down with the back of a spoon. My children love this part of the jam making process! Probably because it can become messy and there is lots of chance for ‘taste testing’ the jam!
Some recipes use thickeners for the jam. To be honest, I like to keep things simple with everyday items so we can make it whenever we want.
NOTE: Should you have used too much water – no worries – we have done this often. Instead of jam, you have made yourself a cordial! Use it like squash, or for a more festive alternative use sparkling water or lemonade.
Making jam with kids – What do we eat the jam with?
The freshly made jam does never lasts long in our house. The longest it ever lasted was when the kids made ice creams with them. And only because they had to wait for the ice creams to set!
To make ice creams use the plastic popsicle moulds and fill these directly with the jam or alternatively mix the jam with yoghurt. My children like filling the ice cream holders and create their signature ice creams by creating layers with jam and yoghurt.
Often we just eat the jam with plain natural yoghurt. Making our own fruit yoghurt full of vitamins and minerals and a fraction of the sugar!
Tip: If you layer the yoghurt and jam in a glass, it makes a great desert for those special occasions! (see image above)
As always, please let me know in the comments below how your jam making went! What fruit did you use and did your children enjoy the activity?
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