Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam

This Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a firm early autumn favourite recipe. It’s tangy and not too sweet and best of all contains no added pectin. There are just four ingredients: wild blackberries, granulated sugar, limes and a couple of bramley apples to help it set. The flavour is superb and just an hour or so of work from start to finish will result in the most deliciously versatile jam you can eat all year round.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

Blackberries must be one of my favourite fruits as it was only when I was skimming through my archives that I realised how abundant my blackberry recipes are compared to other fruits. That is mainly because of our household obsession with foraging. I am not the worst culprit believe it or not, Luke, who has to be pried out of bed most mornings with a chisel, casts aside the duvet with giddy abandon when those first blackberries start bursting through the hedgerows. All our foraging is done at dawn whilst walking Billy Buddy, much to his chagrin. As Luke delves deep into the blackberry bushes, poor Billy hops from paw to paw, barely bearing the wait until Luke is back on more solid ground again.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

We only have a small freezer but dollars for doughnuts you will always find this time of year the blackberries have stolen all the space. This Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam though has to be the recipe which you brandish victoriously when you’ve over indulged with the foraging. It was the first jam I truly loved as the juicy tartness of the blackberries and the zesty zing of the lime cut through all the sugar to create a really complex taste which is perfect for toast, for sandwich cakes, jam tarts and as a replacement filler in these oat bars.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

I have always made this jam seedless and it’s a little bit of a faff but there are pros and cons to it. The pro is that you don’t need to prepare the bramley apples, bar a bit of rough chopping, which get thrown in a preserving pan with the blackberries straight off the bat. Once the fruit has softened then they get passed through a sieve which is the faffy con bit. However, if you do a lot of preserving then I seriously recommend a food mill which make very light work of removing the skin and seeds from the fruit without losing any fruit pulp.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

If you don’t have a food mill and are de-seeding by hand and sieve then you might have a bit more substantial seedy pulp left behind in the sieve. Don’t you dare throw this away you lucky ducks as it’s marvellous for making blackberry vinegar or blackberry gin.

Print Recipe
Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam
This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.
This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
10x 180g jars
Ingredients
  • 1.5 kg blackberries
  • 500 g bramley apples
  • 3 limes zest of 2 and juice of 3
  • 1 kg granulated sugar
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
10x 180g jars
Ingredients
  • 1.5 kg blackberries
  • 500 g bramley apples
  • 3 limes zest of 2 and juice of 3
  • 1 kg granulated sugar
This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.
Instructions
  1. Firstly place 5 saucers into the freezer and then sterilize the jars and lids by placing them in an oven heated to 100°C for 20 minutes.
  2. Roughly chop the apples without peeling or coring, then place in a large preserving pan with the blackberries. Heat gently until all the fruit has softened.
  3. Remove from the heat, then pass everything through a sieve or food mill.
  4. Replace the seedless fruit pulp back into the saucepan and keep the seedy fruit pulp for another purpose (like blackberry gin or vinegar).
  5. Add the lime juice and sugar to the saucepan and heat gently so all the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and place on one of the cold saucers from the freezer. Leave for 1 minute then push the jam with your finger. If the jam wrinkles on the surface it’s ready. If not, then turn the jam back on a boil for a further 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and try the saucer test again.
  6. Once the jam is ready remove the scum from the surface of the jam and then stir in the lime zest.
  7. Decant the jam into the sterilised jars, screw the lids on tightly and store until ready to use.
Recipe Notes
  • The jam can be kept for up to 12 months if kept in a cool dark place

Chinese Damson Sauce

Chinese Damson Sauce
If you are looking for me lately then it’s more than likely you will find me stuck up a damson tree, waist deep in blackberry bushes or halfway down the ravine on Parkland Walk checking on the inconveniently placed crab apple tree. At the moment I’m sitting patiently waiting for the rosehips to come into their own as my empty jam jars are crying out for a bit of rosehip jelly. I might have mentioned once or twice that I’m really getting into this foraging business and it has been so surprising to me how much wonderful fruit is available to us on our urban doorstep. 

Damson Tree

When a friend told me about the damson tree on Lancaster road, which is just your regular residential North London street, I was there in a flash. By the time I arrived I was already a bit too late for some of the fruit which had fallen heedlessly from the branches to be squashed underfoot by busy pedestrians. Gah, that was at least two gallons of jam right there on the pavement.

Whilst we were shimmying up the tree trunk we were informed by a passer-by that everyday there is usually someone picking the damsons, so we are certainly not the only ones benefiting from the tree’s generosity. We’ve visited it a few times now and it could probably provide fruit for the whole of Stroud Green, there are just so many damsons. Although picking the fruit from the branches is no easy task. We had two methods, shaking the tree so all the fruit dropped below into waiting golf umbrellas and on our heads, but that wasn’t shifting the fruit at the top so my husband gallantly flew up into the tree, nifty as you like, whilst I waited below with the basket and a grumpy puppy.

Damsons

The pleasure in picking your own food is immense, despite what the puppy thinks, and I could just imagine how much fun it would be to have an allotment. That is, if I could stand the 15 year waiting list, and then if I could also rope someone else in to plant the seeds, water the soil, nurture the seedlings and tell me when it’s all ready. At that point I would be more than happy though to swoop in and claim all the glory for harvesting the produce. Anyone up for that, I might give you a pot of chutney or a few radishes for your trouble?

Chinese Damson Sauce  |  Stroud Green Larder

The funny thing is that until this year I’m not sure I had even had damsons before, except in vodka which kinda counts, no? The best way to look for damson recipes is to search under plums. Anything you can do with a plum you can do with a damson, although it would be wise to add a touch more sugar as damsons are rather tart; they are not the sort of fruit you would eat plucked straight from the tree. The other issue with damsons is their stones. They are practically impossible, as far as I can tell, to de-stone them before cooking and I’ve worked out the best way is to cook down the damsons, sieve the juice out of the way, then sift through the pulp by hand to remove each stone. It’s a bit of a labour but worthwhile if you like your damsons which I am now happy to say I certainly do.

This chinese damson sauce is an absolute winner and is of course a natural fit for duck and pancakes, but it’s more versatile than that. I am not a fan of the bottled stir-fry sauces you can get from the chinese supermarkets as the ingredients list doesn’t fill me with joy but you can happily drop a spoonful of this into any stir-fry instead of oyster sauce or black bean. It also works as a dipping sauce for wantons, sesame toasts or for grilled chicken.

I was quite reserved on the sugar in this recipe, adding only as much as I needed to remove the upfront damson tang. For someone who practically lives on cakes I don’t like anything to be overly sweet, but if you wish to add more sugar to the below recipe after tasting then go for it.

Chinese Damson Sauce  |  Stroud Green Larder

Chinese Damson Sauce
Inspired by Liana Krissoff’s Chinese Plum Sauce from Canning For A New Generation

1kg damsons
150g pitted prunes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and diced
225g soft light brown sugar
120ml rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tsp cinnamon
1 piece star anise
¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp schezuan pepper
1 tsp salt

  1. Place the damsons in a large preserving pan and cook them for about 10mins with 100ml water, until they are soft and the stones popping out.
  2. The easiest way to remove the stones is to strain the damsons, spread the pulp out on a large plate then pick through all the pulp carefully with food grade gloves to remove each stone. Place the de-stoned pulp and the damson juice back into the preserving pan.
  3. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Pour everything into a blender and blitz until smooth.
  5. Pour the sauce back into the preserving pan, taste for seasoning and bring back to a gentle boil.
  6. Remove from the heat and decant into sterilised jars.

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup with Mussels and Clams

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup with Mussels and Clams
With this soup I wanted to recreate a wonderful velouté I had at Bonnie Gull at the weekend.  Bonnie Gull is a lovely cosy self-proclaimed seafood shack just north of Oxford Street.  We treated ourselves to a lunch there on Saturday and had such a relaxing time.  We forgot entirely that we were just a few minutes from the crowded hubbub of tourist town; instead it felt like mere footsteps from the bracing coastline.  We got thoroughly involved in trying all manner of catches of the day such as razor clams, hake, teeny tiny queenie scallops and this lovely wild garlic velouté with shellfish.  At Bonnie Gull they served their version with flakes of Arbroath Smokie along with squid ink gnocchi which added a rich and sweet smoky depth to the velouté.

Bonnie Gull

After our lunch at Bonnie Gull it was sheer chance that Alexandra Palace Farmers’ Market had bunches of wild garlic on offer the next day as I’m sure I haven’t seen it before, or maybe I was just a bit more susceptible to noticing it on Sunday.  I swooped in to buy a bag and next to it were some garlic chives so I picked up some of those as well to bring another dimension.

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chives  |  Stroud Green Larder

I also deviated from the original dish by making a soup rather than a velouté.  The difference being that a velouté is one of the five classic French sauces, with a roux base loosened with hot stock.  I didn’t really fancy the flour so instead diced up a potato to use that as my thickener.  There is a definite difference in texture and taste.  The potato based soup tastes a little more homespun and less refined but that also achieved the right rustic charm I was after in my particular dish.

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup

Any meal involving shellfish feels like a treat and this is no exception.  The vibrancy of the wild garlic and garlic chives provide the perfect bedrock to the seafood.  The plump mussel and clam morsels nestle deep into the soup, their shells catching hold of the liquid so you can merrily scoop up some smooth garlicky gravy when you dive in for a clam.

Now is the perfect season for wild garlic and garlic chives and in more rural areas they are easy to seek out and forage for free, so if you know where to pick some I encourage you to make haste and make this soup.

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup with Mussels and Clams  |  Stroud Green Larder

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup with Mussels and Clams
Serves 2 for a main dish and 4 for a starter

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 floury potato (about 225g), peeled and diced
40ml vermouth
1 litre chicken stock
80g wild garlic
50g garlic chives
2 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tsp butter
300g mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
300g clams, scrubbed and de-bearded
40ml vermouth
1 tsp butter
½ clove garlic, crushed

  1. In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and butter. Once melted, add the onion and celery. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the potato and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the vermouth and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the wild garlic and chives and cook for a couple of minutes until wilted.
  5. Remove from the heat and pour the soup into a blender. Blend until completely smooth.
  6. Return to the saucepan and add the crème fraiche and butter. Stir in on a very low heat until the crème fraiche and butter have melted in.
  7. Prepare the seafood by heating the vermouth, butter and garlic in a saucepan, when it has come to a gentle simmer toss in the mussels and clams and put the lid on. Cook for 2-3 minutes until all the shells have all opened. Discard the ones that haven’t opened and serve on top of the soup.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart

If you are up for a bit of very easy foraging, now is the perfect time to hunt, gather and eat nettles.  That’s right, stinging nettles.  Granted the ‘stinging’ part of their name doesn’t make them sound the most appealing prospect but I urge you to give them a try.  Between March and early April nettles are plentiful and everywhere.  The freshly sprouted nettle leaf tops are what we are looking for, they are sweet and delicate and can be substituted in almost any recipe that calls for spinach.

stinging nettles

Nettles have the most protein of any green, including broccoli and spinach.  And now we’re all being ordered to eat 7-a-day, I think I need to bring something new to the table. I don’t think they even do 7 different types of fruit and veg at my Sainsbury’s Local, so gathering up a bit of free greenery crammed with nutrients seems like a good way to pack that veg into my diet.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart

I’m so lucky that I live moments away from the Parkland Walk, the old railway line that used to run from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill.  Since 1984 it has been maintained as a nature reserve, looked after by the local community.  As well as a lovely spot to walk the puppy or go for a pleasant run, it is a treat to be so close to nature whilst North London bustles around outside the tree lined enclosure.  You can barely hear the traffic so it’s easy to forget you are in the city.  It is also perfect for a bit of foraging if you know what you are looking for.  I don’t really but even I can spot stinging nettles a mile away.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart

You should pick nettles before they are waist high.  When you go nettle picking wear heavy-duty kitchen gloves – not the flimsy food grade gloves as the stingers are tricksy and somehow manage to wheedle into the thin plastic gloves.  Take a good long pair of scissors and a large carrier bag.  In order to garner the 200g of nettle leaves I needed for this recipe I filled a whole carrier bag with nettle tops. Not the hoary old timers that are the size of your palm but the fresh shoots from the top of the nettles.  And no I did not look like a weirdo decked out in my marigolds and wellies, knee deep in the bushes and surrounded by stinging nettles.  This is London, so odd behavior is expected.

stinging nettles stinging nettles

To prepare the nettles I filled up my kitchen sink with water, put on my rubber gloves and dunked the nettles in, swishing around to wash out the grit and bugs.  I then plucked each nettle from the water, snipped off the leaves using scissors and popped them onto the scales.  Once I had 200g of nettle leaves, I plunged them into a large saucepan filled with boiling salted water and, after bringing the water back to the boil, simmered for 2 mins.  The sting is subdued within the first 30 seconds of cooking so after this you can discard your rubber gloves and use your hands.  The first time you do this you do tend to think the whole world is playing a bit of a joke and you are just about to get your innocent little hands completely ravished.  But trust me, the nettles are perfectly placid by this point so feel free to naked up those paws.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart

The resulting tart is lovely and mellow but with a gorgeously distinctive nettle flavour.  I used a very light cheddar which I don’t normally do but I didn’t want to overpower the nettles since I went to so much trouble in my foraging expedition. I’m all about the bacon salt this week so I seasoned the tart filling with a touch of the good stuff. If you haven’t yet succumbed to its delights then normal salt will do just fine.  Like any self-respecting British tart I served it warm with a handful of oven baked chips.  Utterly delicious.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

Pastry adapted from the Flaky Pie Dough recipe in Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s Alternative Baker
Serves 6

For the pastry:
80g rice flour
25g oat flour
45g buckwheat flour
30g cornflour
15g tapioca starch
15g ground chia seeds
½ teaspoon sea salt
115g cold unsalted butter, cut into very thin slices
1 egg, medium, lightly beaten
2-4 tablespoons iced water
A few tablespoons of a gluten-free flour blend for rolling

For the filling:
200g nettle leaves
2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
200ml crème fraiche
1 tbsp chives
100g mellow cheddar, grated

Equipment: 20cm round tart tin with high sides

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, chia seeds and salt.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour in between your fingertips so it resembles very rough breadcrumbs then stir in the beaten egg with a fork.
  3. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and start to bring the dough together with a pastry scraper. It should start to form quite quickly.
  4. Tip the dough onto the work surface and quickly bring the ball into a round ball with your hands. You don’t really need to work the pastry as there’s no gluten to activate. The pastry should still be a little sticky.
  5. Wrap the pastry ball in greaseproof paper and flatten it slightly.
  6. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  8. Dust the work surface with a gluten-free flour blend then roll the pastry out into a circle large enough to line a 20cm tart tin.
  9. Once you have lined the pastry in the tin and neatened the edges with a knife, place greaseproof paper over the pastry, so it comes up over the sides, then fill the tin with baking beans.
  10. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven then remove the baking beans and parchment and brush the surface of the pastry with the beaten egg.
  11. Place back in the oven for a final five minutes to seal the pastry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature before adding the filling.
  12. Place your nettle leaves in a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Bring back to the boil then simmer for 2 mins.
  13. Drain the nettle leaves and douse in cold water to stop them cooking any further. When cool enough to handle, ball up the nettle leaves and squeeze out the excess water. Chop finely then set aside.
  14. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and egg yolks with the crème fraiche.
  15. Add the chives, then the cheddar, then the nettle leaves. Season with plenty of salt and pepper or bacon salt if you have it.
  16. Pour the filling into the tart shell and place back in the oven for 25-30 mins.
  17. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature before trimming the edges off the pastry and taking it out of the tin. Serve warm.

NOTES: This recipe was updated in 2017 to be gluten-free, so the resulting pastry will not be as light in colour as those in the photos.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart