There's something satisfying about making your own jam. I think it's the pride you can take in your own sheer organisation as you stack neatly labelled, hand-written jars in the larder, ready for numerous breakfasts to come. Or the notion that you have taken something that may have gone to waste, and turned it into something delicious. I once came home from a holiday in Nice to find two huge bowls of green figs on the kitchen table. My mum's boss had given them to her from his tree in the garden. Unfortunately, given that none of my family share my wild enthusiasm for figs, they had been left to fester. Some were beyond salvaging, and went in the compost (it was with a heavy heart that I put them in there). The rest were too far gone to be edible as they were. Desperate not to let such gastronomic potential go to waste, I jumped on my bike and rushed to Tesco to get some jam sugar. An hour later, and I had four jars of beautiful fig jam.
Jam-making is at its most rewarding if it involves parting with no money at all. The apples for this came from the tree in our garden, the blackberries from the bushes in Yorkshire. I've made apple jam before, and can't understand why it isn't made commercially. I've never seen apple jam in the shops, but mine was delicious - just apples, sugar and raisins, with a bit of sourness to it that sets it apart from sweeter jams. I would definitely buy it if I could find it (though I'd rather make my own). Apples have a high pectin content so the jam sets easily - I just use ordinary granulated sugar to make apple-based jams, rather than special jam sugar with added pectin.
The recipe for this is so simple you could probably do it with your eyes closed. I wouldn't advise it, though, because being in close proximity to a vat of boiling sugar is probably one of those times where you should have full visual capability. Put 500g blackberries and 500g apples (peeled, cored and diced weight) in a sturdy pan with the juice of a lemon and 100ml water. Simmer until the fruit has softened and turned blood-red. Then pour in (you might want to close your eyes for this bit, as the amount of sugar that goes in is rather shocking) a 1kg bag of granulated sugar. Stir and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes. To test if it has set, put a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes to chill. Dollop some jam onto it, leave it for a minute, then drag the back of a spoon over it. If it wrinkles, it's done. If not, keep boiling until it sets - it can take anything from 5 minutes to half an hour. If it really isn't setting, add the juice of another lemon.