Self-Sufficiency and Jam

The Good Life

Maybe it was that quirky TV sitcom from the seventies; The Good Life, that led to my hankering for a life of self-sufficiency. It’s a hankering that’s existed for the longest while and one I feed frequently with articles about growing your own fruit and veg, preserving it through the winter and stocking your own pantry with all manner of homemade paraphernalia. Of course this has never actually translated into reality. I have skirted around the edges of self-sufficiency with great aplomb, but actually living off the land completely doesn’t really sit with my very cosy suburban life. So I practice supplementary living, where I supplement bought goods with homemade ones, which includes jam!

I foraged the blackberries (see above) from a spot a few yards from my house in Dublin 14 and had bramley (cooking) apples donated to me from a neighbour’s garden. And of course being a zero waster I have an endless supply of empty jars stockpiled, so all I had to supply was some lemon juice and sugar. This is my version of a recipe for blackberry and apple jam that I found on-line. The original recipe asked for 500g of each fruit but I only had 370g blackberries so adjusted it.

Blackberry and Apple Jam

  • 370g of blackberries, stepped overnight so that any hidden mini beasts can be identified and removed, along with any leaves, husks etc.
  • 370g of bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • 740 g of granulated sugar. Original recipe asked for jam sugar but I’m a cheapskate / lazy so just used granulated


  1. Simmer fruit in a large pot with 75ml of water and lemon juice for 15 mins to soften.
  2. Pop a couple of saucers into the freezer to chill.
  3. Add the sugar to the pan and cook, stirring to dissolve. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes or until the sound of the mixture starts to change to, what I call a ‘lava plopping’ sound. Remove from the heat.
  4. Put a teaspoonful of jam onto a chilled saucer for 1 minute. Drag your finger lightly over the jam. If it wrinkles, it has reached setting point; if it doesn’t, boil for a couple more minutes, then turn off the heat and try again with another chilled saucer. Set aside to cool for 1 hour.
  5. If you have greaseproof or baking paper cut some seals to put on directly top of your jam after it’s been jarred. It helps prevent the growth of mould.
  6. Thirty mins after jam has been set aside to cool, sterilise your jars. To do this preheat the oven to its lowest setting and while it heats wash the jars in warm soapy water. Then place the jars and lids clean and facing upwards on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Sir the jam and ladle into each jar.
  8. Treat yourself to a nice slice of bread with warm homemade jam!


Ps – If you’re not into cooking this freezer jam recipe might interest you.

Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

3 thoughts on “Self-Sufficiency and Jam

  1. Jam sugar isn’t necessary if you throw in an apple like you or other high pectin fruit. I’m super uncomfortable reusing jars because they aren’t tested for boiling temperature, which I prefer to do when canning jams, but I know Irish people think I’m mad for that :).

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