Reduced Sugar Bramble Jelly – in the Microwave!

Also see Lucy’s Microwave Jam.

This time I took blackberries.  Mediteranean blackberries, picked in the Med sun at 34 degs C   in the shade!  I really do enjoy living down here.

I took just over a pound of blackberries, washed them and put them into a Pyrex bowl, putting 8 oz of caster sugar on top.  I added the juice of a lemon.  I wish I had zested the lemon and put that in as well.  Perhaps you could try that for me, please.

Mix.  Put the top on – that’s important.

4 mins on 600W.  Mix.

Pop a small plate into the freezer for a test plate.

4 mins on 600W. Mix

…and again…

…and again until it is quite liquid.  Then use a seive to seive off the liquid, pressing the berries with a large spoon so that all the juice goes through the seive.  Discard the solids.

4 mins on 600W. Stir.

….and again….. until it looks syrupy…

Take a blob and pop it on the cold plate, putting it back into the freezer for a inute or so.

Draw your finger through the blob and see if it looks and feels like jam.  If it does……. you just made bramble jelly.  If not, keep on with the microwave.

Pour it into a jar that has been through the dishwasher and voila!  Reduced sugar Bramble Jelly.

You can just pour it into a plastic container instead (cooled a little first) and use it from that.  You ain’t gonna be able to keep it cos it’s too scrummy!

Veggie Pasta with a difference….

In France at the moment, I’m on Galley Slave duties as we have a very good friend staying with us for a while, and she’s veggie.  Just doesn’t like meat.  Fair enough; that’s fine with me.  I wanted to give us all a nice veggie lunch and so decided on a simple veggie pasta.

Ok.  Bung a few veg in a pot, an onion and a couple of cans of chopped tomatoes….. Nah!

I don’t do that sort of thing, so this is what got dun:

For 3, 4 or 5 people, depending on hunger pangs, find:

  • 1 courgette (Cut into quarters lengthways, then sliced across)
  • 2 carrots (I used a mandolin and cut some into tiny matchsticks, and some into thin wide ribbons, just for a bot o’fun)
  • A dozen large French beans (Cut into 1cm long bits)
  • 1/4 of an aubergine (Cuta sa the courgette….. I’m saving the other 3/4 for tonight’s trout!)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 a red pepper
  • 1/2 a yellow pepper (both peppery halves should just be cut into 1/2 CM squares….. (er…. ahem…..don’t actually measure them, silly…… just cut ’em small…… I can see I’m gonna have trouble with you…… stop being pedantic!)
  • 3 cloves garlic (big ‘uns – put into a food processor with the ginger root and blitzed)
  • A a big man’s thumb-sized piece of ginger root
  • 8 large tomatoes (some that were salad toms that were too soft, some that were lovely, solid plum tomatoes – skillfully skinned [See Tricks’n’Tips for method] and each tom chopped into about 8 bits
  • Tomato puree
  • Some sun-dried tomatoes that were lurking at the back of the cupboard somewhere, chopped.
  • Parmesan, freshly grated…. as finely as possible.
  • Oh yes…..and some pasta.  Your choice.
  • A large frying pan (preferably with a nice glass lid, like mine…. but any will do….. but it won’t be as posh as mine….. Unless your name is Anna of course!)
  • A large saucepan for the pasta


  • Boil the shredded/ribboned carrots & French  beans for 5 mins, drain the water into the pasta pan (don’t waste taste) and put aside for now.
  • Fry the aubergine, courgette, onion, peppers in a hint of oil just to et ’em going.  Don’t burn ’em.  After 10 mins, just put a splash of water in the pan and put the lid on (or a plate….. same effect) and turn up the heat.
  • Add the chopped toms, garlic & ginger, sun-dried wotsits and tom puree.  Stir. Lid on.
  • Turn the pan down to the lowest heat possible and let it sit there for a while…… (30 mins or so, yes?)
  • Boil the pasta for 10 mins and drain almost all of the water away.
  • Tip the pasta (of whatever nature) into the frying pan with the mixture and blend it all together (no, silly, not in the blender…..that’d give you soup!)
  • Pop it onto plates orinto bowls, add the parmesan and scoff!

Lucy’s Scrummy Microwave Jam

Cor!    What a disovery!     When Lucy told me that she makes Apricot jam with fresh apricots….in the microwave…. I was interested.  Very interested.

Here it is.  It’s complex; long and involved…. not!

Put a small plate into the freezer and leave it there until I tell you.  Go on…. do it….. you’ll see later why.

Take 4 ounces of whatever fleshy fruit, or thereabouts.  I’m greedy, so I used 7.  Add the same weight of caster sugar.  In France, this is sucre en poudre.  Put this into a Pyrex or similar glass casserole with a lid.  Mix it up with a wooden spoon.  Put on the lid.

Pop it into a microwave.  Now this is where I made a mistake:  I omitted to ask Lucy what power microwave she had used, and, as it turned out, we had a more powerful one, my first attempt came out like boiled sweets.  BUT NO MATTER.  You’ll see later how we got over it…..

Put the microwave on between 600 and 700 watts.  Set it going for 4 minutes.

Take it out and mix.  Don’t get your human flesh anywhere near to sugar at this heat.  You’ll cook.  Yourself.  Use the wooden spoon.

Now set it for 2 minutes on the same power level.  Take out and mix.

You may need to this a few times, but when you think it might look a bit thick and unliquid (if that’s a word….and I don’t really care if it’s not because it describes….) just pop a blob on the plate that’s in the freezer, and pop it back in for few mo’s.  Take it out and run the back of a teaspoon through the blob on the plate.  If it looks and feels like jam…… it’s jam.

Pour it all into a sterilised jar (been through the dishwasher) and screw the top on and you’re done.

Ok….. now what about our jar of boiled sweets….the overdone jam of my first attempt?  Well all I did was to incorporate it all into a mixture that had had its first 4 mins, and did 2 mins more…..and it was perfect.

And all this in twenty minutes that were available before going out to dine at La Pena in Port la Nouvelle.   I’s a clever bugger now’n’then!

(Well, actually, it wasn’t me who was the clever one, but………..!)