Just when I think there is a reprieve in the summer produce harvest, I walk down a different garden path and discover the blackberries are ripening early.
I haven’t seen anything quite like it this season. These thornless blackberries are always a wonderful producer, but this season I predict the harvest will be double that of previous years.
Don’t get me wrong, I love gathering produce, but sometimes it is a struggle to keep up. The combination of higher temperatures in the early season, and the perfect amount of rain, has resulted in a record summer. Everything is early by at least a month.
The children are back at school and so the lunchbox routine returns. Even as a foodie this is something I don’t always find the most exciting task. Maybe it is the monotony of it, and the polarising likes and dislikes of each child. But the inclusion of home baking is a mainstay, and this recipe has morped in the making to satisfy each child’s tastes.
Apricot jam would also work well, as would the addition of chopped nuts, if your school allows – I have included a variation in the recipe for this reason.
BLACKBERRY & PRUNE JAM
This low-sugar jam is best made in small quantities as it only keeps for two weeks in the fridge. Larger quantities can be prepared if you have excess berries, and frozen into one-cup portions to thaw as needed.
The addition of apple gives the jam a silky texture, and the prunes lend a complementary flavour to the berries while thickening the sauce without the need for adding extra sugar. If you are not a fan of prunes, dried dates can be substituted.
Makes a 300ml jar
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 cups blackberries (or other berries), fresh or frozen
10 prunes, finely chopped
1 small apple; peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
Squeeze of lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat. Cook, uncovered, until the fruit and prunes are soft and the jam has thickened. About 20 minutes.
Mash any larger lumps with the back of a spoon, check the taste, adding extra sweetener if needed. Pour into a clean 300ml jar, cool, then store in the fridge. Consume within two weeks.
Any berry jam can be used for these bars. My choice would be a 100% fruit conserve available from most supermarkets as they are lower in sugar and have a full berry flavour. With a hint of autumn in the air I have added a touch of warming spices to the mix.
1 ½ cups rolled oats
1 cup ground almonds or desiccated coconut
50g dark chocolate (70 per cent), finely chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Pinch of salt
½ cup berry & prune jam (see above recipe) or 100 per cent fruit conserve
75g butter or coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 free-range egg
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 22cm square tin with baking paper.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and use a fork to whisk together while incorporating the dry ingredients until combined. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press evenly.
- Bake for 20 minutes until golden around the edges. Using the baking paper to lift, transfer the slice to a cooling rack. Once cold, use a sharp knife to cut into 18 bars. Store in a covered container in the fridge and consume within five days.
*Recipe first featured 14th February 2018 on Stuff.co.nz.