January 28th, 2020
Blueberries are one of life’s simple pleasures. They are quite unlike other berries and a firm favourite in our household. Over summer, we stockpile the freezer with pick-your-own berries, augmented by several small blueberry bushes in the backyard that are finally beginning to earn their keep.
Blueberries have incredible gelling quality. They can be made into a firm jelly by simply pulverising fresh raw berries in a blender until smooth, pour into small bowls and leave to set in the fridge for an hour or so. Give it a go, it is quite magical.
When blueberries are cooked, this gelling quality can be used to produce a thick conserve without the addition of pectin and/or copious amounts of sugar. This results in a thick and rich berry-full conserve that sandwiches perfectly between two spiced cookies. Scroll down for the recipes…
Blueberry & Blackberry Conserve
- 500 g blueberries
- 500 g blackberries or boysenberries
- juice of half a lemon
- about ½ cup sugar or honey
Place the berries into a wide-bottomed saucepan. The larger surface area of a wide base means excess moisture can boil and evaporate as steam to thicken the conserve.
Cook on a low heat for 20 minutes until the berries have softened. Remove from the heat and use a stick blender to puree until smooth (alternatively use a potato masher to macerate the berries). Return to the heat, add the lemon juice and sugar or honey to taste and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Preserve the hot conserve into hot sterilised jars. For a small batch like this, I use the oven method to sterilise the empty jars by placing them into a cold oven and heat to 120 degrees Celsius. After 15 minutes begin to remove the hot jars one at a time to carefully fill with the hot conserve. Meanwhile, boil the lids for 5 minutes and use a tea towel to screw onto the filled jar. Cool the jars on a wooden board. Once cool check the lids have sealed – they will be curving into the jar – and store in a cool pantry for up to 6 months. Once opened, store conserve in the fridge and use within 3 weeks.
- 100 g butter
- ⅓ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 small egg
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1¼ cups standard white flour
- ½ cup ground hazelnut or almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- About ⅓ cup berry conserve
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and lemon zest and beat until thick.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add to the butter mixture in two batches, mixing well between each addition. Tip onto a bench and knead briefly. Place the dough into a covered dish and chill for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured bench roll out two-thirds of the dough to 5mm thickness. Use a 6cm cookie cutters to cut out 12 rounds and place them on a lined baking tray. Spread each round with a teaspoon of berry conserve. Roll and cut out the remaining dough to create 12 more rounds. Use a 1cm cutter to cut out the centre of each round (or use an apple corer) and carefully place on top of the conserve-spread rounds. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container in the pantry and consume with 3 days.