Before I moved to Wales I’d never heard of whinberries but I’ve recently learned that they’re a type of bilberry that grows wild on the mountain sides around here. They’re also very tasty! Depending on where you live, you might know them as Bilberries or Whortleberries instead. If you’ve not encountered them before, they’re related to blueberries and have some similarities – although they’re smaller and I think they have a richer taste which reminds me a little of elderberry wine. A traditional way to use them in Wales is to make Whinberry Tart but, seeing as my pastry making skills leave a lot to be desired, I decided to make jam instead. Here’s my recipe:
makes approx. 3 medium size jars
- 650g whinberries
- 500g granulated sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
First wash the berries, picking out any bits of stalk and discarding any over-ripe berries. Place the fruit in a pan over a low heat and gently crush the berries to release some juice. Add the lemon juice then simmer gently until the fruit is soft and squishy but with some still retaining their shape. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. The sugar will dissolve quicker if you’ve warmed it in a low oven beforehand. Once all the sugar has dissolved, bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Test for set and, when ready, pour into warm, sterilized jars and seal.
I’m quite taken with these little berries and hope to experiment with some more recipes in the next few weeks. As the season is fairly short, I’m thinking of bottling some or perhaps making whinberry muffins which can be frozen. If anyone has some recipes they’d like to share, please do!