Bilberry or Blueberry Jam is one of the most delicious things you can spread on your morning toast! Having recently found a spot to pick wild bilberries in North Wales we have made numerous batches of Bilberry Jam and we simply cannot get enough of it! Here we share our very simple, 3 ingredient recipe!
There’s a place in North Wales that we often go to walk our Golden Retriever Sawyer. It has a very poetic name (that we will selfishly keep secret) and beautiful views across the panoramic vale and moorlands. Recently we discovered that not only it provides for a scenic walk, but it is also a great place to forage!
A couple of months ago we went there with Seb’s parents who were visiting. Seb’s dad pointed out that there are a lot of bilberries and cranberries growing in the wild moors. We couldn’t believe it! We have been walking here for years and didn’t even notice the abundance of berries we could pick and make nice things with.
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Over the last couple of months, we rectified our mistake, pickling buckets of bilberries, making pies, jellies and jams. And today we are sharing a very simple (and delicious) recipe for our Bilberry Jam, that is equally as good made with blueberries.
What are Bilberries? Where To Look for Them?
Bilberries are a European variety of berries, closely related to blueberries. Round, small and deep blue in colour, they grow on small shrubs, typically on higher grounds in the North and West of the UK. Whilst similar in appearance and taste to blueberries, bilberries are much richer in antioxidants, vitamin C and manganese and are claimed to be a superfood. They are often quoted to help build a strong immune system and even fight diabetes. When I was a child, my grandmother always told me to eat lots of bilberries if I wanted perfect vision and avoid wearing glasses in the future. I ate lots of them (because they are just so delicious), but ended up needing glasses anyway, so I’d take this piece of folk wisdom with a pinch of salt 🙂
If you are in the UK, bilberries are known by many names: blaeberry, whortleberry, wimberry and whinberry. You can start foraging for bilberries in June up until September. Whilst bilberries are not common to find in many parts of the UK, look for them on acidic moors, heaths and bogs and as an understorey in open woodland, especially in the North and West parts of the country. We pick ours in North Wales, where there’re lots of bilberry shrubs growing among the heather. It isn’t easy to spot the berries as these tiny gems hide amongs the leaves. They can be time-consuming to pick too (maybe that’s why we never see them sold in shops) but the time spent in the moorland foraging your own bilberries is definitely worth it. However, I would advise wearing gloves and old clothes when picking bilberries as they will stain.
Bilberries are delicious eaten raw, but there are plenty of other ways you can use them. A scrumptious topping for porridge or pancakes, a wonderful pie filling and a wonderful berry to make jam or jelly with. Bilberries, just like blueberries, are high in natural pectin, so bilberry jam sets like a dream and there’s no need to use jam sugar (with added pectin) either.
How to Sterilise Jars?
Clean sterilized jars are crucial to the success and longevity of any jams and other preserves you make. Sterilizing is an important part of preserving to remove bacteria, yeasts or fungi, therefore your jams and preserved are protected and safe to eat for longer.
To sterilise your jars, preheat the oven to 120°C Fan. Pour boiling water right up to the top into your clean jars and metal lids. Pour the water out and place the jars and lids apart in the preheated oven. Heat for 15 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave the jars to cool down before removing them from the oven.
How to Make Blueberry (Bilberry) Jam?
Place the blueberries/bilberries, sugar and lemon juice into a large pan and place it over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon from time to time until the sugar has dissolved.
Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium ad bring the jam to a boil. Stirring from time to time to prevent the jam from burning on the bottom, carry on cooking for approx 10-15 minutes.
If you have a kitchen thermometer, your jam should be 95-98 C, when ready. Otherwise, test a few drops of the jam on a frozen saucer and place them in the fridge for a minute. If it sets, the jam is ready to be poured into jars. Carefully ladle the jam into sterilised jars right up to the top and screw the lids on.
For other preserving ideas, have a look at some of our favourite recipes below:
Simple Blueberry (Bilberry) Jam
- Sterilised Jars
- 600 g bilberries or blueberries washed, stalks removed
- 400 g granulated sugar no need for jam sugar with pectin
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Place the blueberries/bilberries, sugar and lemon juice into a parce pan and place it over a low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon from time to time until sugar has dissolved.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium ad bring the jam to a boil. Stirring from time to time to prevent the jam burning on the bottom, carry on cooking for approx 15min.
- If you have a kitchen thermometer, your jam should be 96-100 C, when ready. Otherwise test a few drops of the jam on a frozen saucer and place in the fridge for a minute. If it sets, the jam is easy to be poured into jars. Carefully ladle the jam into sterilised jars right up to the top and skrew the lids on.