A simple autumnal Hedgerow Jam can include any combination of elderberries, blackberries, haws, sloes and apples, and it's one of the most delicious and versatile things to make with your haul. Spread it on toast, add a spoonful to porridge, mix it with hot water and drizzle it over ice cream or a panna cotta, or you can even add vinegar and use it as a tart compote to accompany duck or game.
All you need is....
Soften up the tougher berries by mimicking a frost - just stick the haws and sloes in the freezer for a few hours.
Put the haws and sloes in a pot and cover with cold water, then simmer them until they're gooey. Scoop them out into a sieve and, using a large ladle, push the soft red mush through the sieve until you're left with just the hard pips. Collect the mush and weigh it - mine weighted 225g.
Strip the elderberries from their stalks. This is a fiddly job! I think the easiest way to do it is with a fork rather than fingers. Watch out for good clothes, tablecloths and unforgiving carpets: elderberries do stain, and they have a tendency to get anywhere and everywhere, so exercise caution. Peel and finely slice the apples and check the blackberries for beasties. Wash everything and pat it dry.
Take the soft fruit - the elderberries, blackberries and finely sliced apples, that is - and put them in a pot. Cover with water and simmer them until soft - maybe 20 minutes.
Once the fruit has softened, you can add the gooey haw and sloe mush.
Add the sugar. At this point, it's quite crucial to keep stirring as the hot sugary fruit starts to become jam and the mix starts to darken, as it might stick to the bottom a bit. To know if it's ready, spoon a blob onto a cold saucer and poke at the sides of it with your finger. If it wrinkles on top, it's ready. If it doesn't, it's not. Either way, don't let it boil for too long or you'll end up with solid jam that you can't get a knife into - I let mine go for ten minutes. I think that was on the long side and my jam did end up quite solid (though I like that...).
Sterilise some jam jars by giving them a good scrub and popping them in the oven at 50 degrees or so to dry. Then spoon in your jam. While it's cooling, cut out some rounds of parchment paper and pop them on the top.
No jar of homemade jam is complete without a gingham hat and a handwritten label! Thanks to some gingham offcuts, a 3" roll of masking tape and some surprisingly sharp pinking shears, my jam jars are quite sweet.
For a sharper, slightly runnier jam, try this combination of fruit instead: