Jam making is one of the oldest ways of preserving fruits for the winter, and of course these days it is readily available in supermarkets, corner shops, farm shops and specialist shops and it's usually there throughout the year.

In this article I'm going to tell you how I made Blackberry Jam and I'll try to describe how good it tastes, not easy without a sample.

Firstly of course you need your Blackberries and the good news is they are free if you are prepared to pick them. Blackberries grow on bramble bushes and are available from early August through to September. Just remember when picking that there are lots of thorns so try and invest in some protective gloves and wear long sleeves to at least minimise the danger of scratches to your arms.

Jam is a simple mix of fruit and sugar boiled together and there are many recipes available but the principles are the same.

I always wash my fruit, pick out anything that looks suspicious and weigh it using good quality kitchen scales. I always use the same amount of sugar as fruit and for Blackberries you'll need high pectin sugar. I always use a good quality Preserving Sugar. Start by heating the fruit in a large pan, I invested in a Maslin Pan which whilst it is more expensive than a large saucepan, it is designed for large quantities of fruit and sugar and it will withstand the high temperatures required. Once the fruit is beginning to break down add the sugar, stirring the mixture and making sure that all the sugar dissolves. Its worth remembering that the jam mixture will boil very vigorously so you need to keep and eye on it don't be tempted to walk away and do something else and leave it boiling on its own!

It is important to determine the setting point for jam, and whilst trial and error may be ok it does frustrating seeing if your jam sets on a cold plate (and it makes a lot of washing up!) Once again I use a good quality jam thermometer you can get them from most good cookshops. You need to take the mixture up to 105º Centigrade once this temperature has been achieved turn the heat off and allow it to cool for a few minutes.

Whilst the cooking is proceeding it is essential that you sterilise your jam jars, again I've invested in good quality Kilner preserving jars, these jars require new seal lids each time they are used but the investment is worth it, however if this is your first time you can use your old jam jars. The jars should be washed, rinsed and then I place mine in an oven at about 120º Centigrade for ten minutes (don't put the lids in).

When the jam mixture has cooled a little it is ready for pouring into the jam jars, be careful it will still be hot. Use a jam funnel with a wide tube about 10cm in diameter and make sure you fill the jars to within 1 cm of the top. Screw the lids on and leave to cool completely don't be tempted to move the jam before it has gone completely cold. You can eat the jam straight away or keep it until the winter.

When the jam has cooled completely put a nice label on it and you're done. If you want to give jars of jam for presents put a circle of nice material over the lid and tie it on with a ribbon or piece of raffia. People do appreciate jars of homemade produce. Enjoy!!