Riverside Cottage is always a wonderful place to come home to, but as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness arrives it becomes even more magical. The light softens, the garden gives up its harvest of blackberries, apples, quinces and lavender, and every riverside walk brings a little more of a glow to our cheeks.
It’s the perfect time of year to dream and plan? Can you downsize, up size or just squeeze your work into a more civilised three days a week? Or perhaps you just want to press into some heels and a little cobalt dress, as Vogue is now describing as this season’s must have blue.
Can we help you share that dream, whatever it is. Every fortnight we will bring you up to date with a little bit of something that makes life that little bit more pleasurable, and invite you to enjoy it with us.
This month we’ve been blackberrying and picking up windfalls. There’s nothing like a bit of foraging for giving you a virtuous frugal glow. You can gather the ingredients in one afternoon’s walk and the scent in your kitchen as it bubbles away will intoxicate you all evening.
We managed to pick 1kg of blackberries, which we paired with just over half as much again of peeled cored and quartered apples (just over 500g). As a general rule you should use as much sugar as fruit and about a 100ml of water for every 1kg of fruit.
Combine all the ingredients and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved then boil away until setting point is reached, roughly ten minutes but test it by dropping a blob of jam onto an ice cold plate – if it wrinkles when cool it’s done. If not, keep going, but take the jam off the heat as you test for setting point so you don’t over do it.
While your jam is bubbling away sterilise the jam jars in the oven (put them in a cold oven and heat up slowly to 180C – it reduces the chance of them cracking). Pop them in the oven just as the jam reaches setting point then as the jam is cooling slightly the jars can sterilise, it takes about twenty minutes. Fill the jars as they come out of the oven and make sure the jam and jars are roughly the same temperature to avoid cracking the glass. Leave the jam to settle for a few minutes then seal with a circle of waxed paper and a (sterilised) screw top lid or cellophane and rubber band. You can play around with gingham circles and raffia later.
And voila, a shelf full of jewel-coloured gorgeousness to see through to Christmas, all you need to do now is splash out on a £3.20 ciabatta from the farmer’s market and a pot of tea and your day is complete.