Gingergirl: ‘Nothing beat the taste of homemade jams’

Helen Keown


Helen Keown

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Hello and welcome to all about food. Fancy some foraging?

Hello and welcome to all about food. Fancy some foraging?

Ask Gingergirl

Hi Gingergirl,

I enjoy all your recipes. Do you have a recipe for blackberry jam or some other blackberry ideas as my little boy loves picking them. Also, can you freeze them?

Thank you.

Siobhan, Raheen

Hello Siobhan,

Fruit picking is probably my favourite part of my work, I still get a thrill out of climbing through trees and bushes, getting scratched and fighting off bees as I fill containers full of precious fruit.

When picking blackberries go for plump, shiny, ripe berries – unripe berries will not ripen once picked. Do not wash the berries until just before you use them as washing makes them prone to spoiling. Arrange the berries on a tray lined with kitchen paper and store them in the fridge for up to three/four days. Blackberries can be easily frozen, simply wash the fruit and place in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. Blackberries are perfect in crumbles, cakes and ice cream and, to bring a little sunshine into your kitchen over the dark winter months, I highly recommend you gather some jam jars and get jam making!

Blackberry and Apple Jam

(makes approx. 8 225g jars)

1 kg of blackberries

400g of apples (crab apples or cooking apples)

Granulated sugar

Roughly chop the apples, do not core and leave the skin on. Put the apples and blackberries in a large, heavy based saucepan and add just enough water to cover the fruit. Simmer over a medium heat until the fruit is soft and pulpy. Allow the fruit to cool slightly, place a large sieve over a bowl and gently sieve the fruit, discarding the skins and seeds left in the sieve. Weigh the fruit pulp, allowing 450g of sugar for every 450g of fruit pulp. Place the pulp and sugar into a large saucepan and heat very gently until the sugar has fully dissolved. Bring the jam to the boil and continue to boil for about ten minutes until setting point has been reached. When the jam has set, carefully pour into warm, sterilised jars and immediately seal with a twist-on lid. Label the jam and store in a cool, dark place.

For more information on jam setting and sterilising jars go to

Savoury blackberry sauce

Blackberries are excellent when paired with duck, lamb and venison. In the dish used for cooking the meat add one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 200ml of stock, two tablespoons of redcurrant or apple jelly and one crushed clove of garlic.

Stir over a high heat and blend the ingredients together. Add the blackberries and cook for a further five or ten minutes or until the fruit has softened.

Contact Gingergirl


Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutney’s made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.

Letters to ‘gingergirl’ c/o The Limerick Leader, 54 O’Connell St. Limerick.

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