Preserving Memories

Enlisted the help of some younger family members to gather blackberries at the weekend. I had gathered a trayful of fallen apples and thought blackberry and apple jelly would be a great recipe to use them up. Having convinced the picking force that blackberries did not have to be eaten on the spot but could be used in other ways sufficient blackberries were picked for the task.B and A Jelly crop

No time like the present for using the fruit so it was weighed, washed and added to the pan with the chopped apples and simmered gently for a while to soften the fruit. As we all enjoyed the sweet fruity aroma I was soon transported back to my own childhood.

Every year relatives would visit laden with bags of cooking apples. Much as we loved apple pies there had to be other uses found that would preserve them as we had no fridge let alone a freezer. The solution was to go blackberry picking and for the black enamel cauldron used as a preserving pan to be dragged out to boil up the fruit for jelly. I loved it on bread instead of our usual jam but it was the smell that pervaded the house as it cooked that brought back these memories this weekend.

The strained juice just needs to be boiled up with sugar to reach setting point and then the jars of deep maroon jelly can be lined up in the cupboard just as my mother used to display them on the larder shelves. I suspect that I won’t be salting beans or bottling tomatoes as she did, however.

Sometimes we overlook how important our lesser senses are in evoking memories. Smell, taste and touch are just as important as sight and sound.

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6 Responses to Preserving Memories

  1. Bob Scotney says:

    Just last week we made apple and blackberry jam – apples from our tree and blackberries picked by me.

  2. Ann Williams says:

    Nothing like home made jams and jellies is there, Bob, and when it comes from your own trees or through your own efforts you appreciate it all the more. I have never liked pips in jam so my Mother always made jelly with raspberries from the garden and later the blackberries with apples but is the smell of it cooking that brought back all those memories.

  3. Patsy says:

    My granny used to make blackberry and apple jelly – it’s a long time since I’ve tasted it, but I’m sure if I had some now I’d be instantly reminded of her and the pantry full of jars.

  4. You’ve just reminded me to go collecting blackberries! I love freezing the berries and then using them for blackberry and apple crumbles. I’ve , never made jams or jellies but perhaps I’ll try that this year.


    Here’s Seamus Heaney’s famous Blackberry Picking poem :)

  5. Ann Williams says:

    Definitely a childhood favourite. Suspect lots was made in WWII as people made use of what was available and the habit continued. Not difficult, just time consuming.

  6. Ann Williams says:

    That’s a lovely poem, Marion. I had not come across it before so thank you for the link.
    I often freeze small amounts of berries and save them until I have sufficient to make the jelly. You need twice the weight of blackberries to apples. There are plenty of recipes around so hope you give it a go. The smell of it cooking is worth it alone and takes me right back to cycle rides to collect the berries.

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