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Getting stoned

PUBLISHED: 12:37 08 September 2015 | UPDATED: 12:37 08 September 2015

A good haul of white bullaces

A good haul of white bullaces

Archant

Greeny gold bullaces are a free hedgerow harvest, but preparing them is a labour of love. Linda Duffin thinks it’s worth it though

Small, tasty, fiddly . . . but worth it. Linda Duffin picks bullaces to make jamSmall, tasty, fiddly . . . but worth it. Linda Duffin picks bullaces to make jam

My late father-in-law, a Suffolk doctor, often got given jars of bullace jam by grateful patients. He was once given a donkey, too. It was called Hasty, because it wasn’t. But that’s another story.

The joy of bullaces is that they are free. As Suffolk people will know – I didn’t until I moved here – they grow wild in the hedgerows. All you need is a basket, a bit of time and a walking stick to beat down the nettles and hook down tall branches. A pair of wellies helps in our neck of the woods, as they straggle along the stream that borders our garden. But they’re worth getting your feet wet for, because when these white (greeny-gold) bullaces are cooked they taste marvellous, like gages.

The only other drawback is that they are tiny, about the size of a fat sloe, and so they are mostly skin and stone and impossible to pit before cooking. Making them into jam is a bit of a trial as you have to fish all the stones out once they’ve softened. And that, believe me, is a labour of love.

Before we moved to Suffolk full-time I took a basketful back to London and set to work. My husband vanished down to the allotment for the afternoon and when he came back I was still standing over the pan sieving out stones and cussing under my breath. If that hasn’t put you off, read on because this is one of our family’s favourite jams.

The recipe produces a golden amber preserve with a lovely balance of sweet and tart. We generally eat it at breakfast, liberally spread on buttered toast, but it is also good in puddings, cakes and even savoury dishes.

Try using it instead of raspberry jam in a bakewell tart, put a thick layer in a citrus-flavoured Victoria sandwich or stir some into a sauce for roast duck.

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