Sea Buckthorn Jam

Added by Martin on 9 November 2015
I was a bit nervous about this because picking the berries involves a certain amount of commitment, and I wasn't sure it was going to be worthwhile - but it was! The end result is a real jam, great on toast or scones, rather than a rowan jelly alternative. The berries are an amazing yellow-y orange, and form in big clusters. But the trees are very thorny, and the berries tend to pop rather than come off the stem, so picking is tricky. Our approach was to cut off sections of branch and put them in an old chest freezer for a day or two. Some reports suggest freezing for longer to get rid of the bitter taste of the raw berries, but that seemed to disappear in the jam-making anyway. Once the berries are frozen they come off the branch easily, but so do the leaves and bits of twig, so there's still a bit of work separating them from the berries. And one final point before getting onto the jam recipe, sea buckthorn is reportedly (a) highly invasive and (b) a nitrogen fixer. We planted some in a wind break, and hopefully the nitrogen is finding its way to the neighbouring fruit and nut trees. Cutting branches off for the berries helps restrain the trees to a manageable size!
The recipe: add 500 ml of water for every 1 kg of berries, and simmer for 20 minutes. Mash, and then strain - we tried using a jelly bag, but the juice was too thick, so we used a sieve which gave a cloudy jam. Once you have the juice, measure it and add 1.5 times the amount of sugar, i.e. 1.5 kg of sugar to each 1 litre of juice. Sounds like a lot, but the raw juice is VERY sharp. Boil vigorously and pour into warm jars once you've reached setting point. The berries have lots of pectin, so the jam sets easily.


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