ISABEL’S RASPBERRY JAM
The high cost of raspberries can make working with them prohibitive. I am not referring to flavorless supermarket berries. I am talking about berries right off the vine, warm from the sun, berries with so intense a flavor that it’s almost impossible to get back home with a full basket. This season I was lucky enough to hit Underwood Family Farm at peak season. Their bushes were laden with fruit and I came home with a groaning flat for under twenty dollars.
Wanting to bottle their delicate essence right off the vine I rushed to make jam. Plunging into my canning library I went first to canning goddess, Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures. She recommends leaving the berries unrinsed so that they retain their flavor. Not an option for me, my berries were rife with bugs, leaves and odd bits. Perhaps, I thought, I should refine my picking skills. I imagined Madame Ferbers pickers, in white kerchiefs and starched aprons, far tidier than I.
Next I consulted the more reasonable and equally exalted jamming guru, Linda Zedrich. She suggests mashing the berries. Once again not an option: my berries seemed far too fragile. Her recipe had what I refer to as the “go to ratio” which I often use: 1 cup of fruit to ¾ cup of sugar. Many older canning recipes favor a one to one ratio, which produces a jam too sweet for my taste.
Wanting to do as little to the berries as possible I employed the old fashioned method of warming the sugar in the oven which means less cooking on the stovetop and therefore less breakdown of the fruit.
Many recipes nowadays say “DO NOT DOUBLE” which I usually ignore, but with fruits this delicate I heed that advice. The objective is to preserve the fruit’s essence and working in small batches insures this.
This is the simplest of jams but I spent more time thinking about it than many others I've made. My daughter Isabel said “Mom this might be your best” as she bit into her third piece of toast. But I don’t think my raspberry jam is so special. It’s just that homemade raspberry jam is truly a rare delicacy.
- Scant two pints
- 4 cups raspberries
- 3 cops sugar
- Juice of one lemon
- Preheat oven to 250. Place sugar in a shallow ovenproof pan and heat in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Warm your preserving pan over low heat, add sugar and lemon juice followed by the berries. Stir gently and increase heat, bringing to a gentle boil. Skim as needed. Cook about 5 minutes until set. With this jam it is better to have a slightly runny jam than an overcooked one.
- Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. Process in a hot water bath 10 minutes. Label and enjoy.
- This stuff is precious so I like to use 4 oz jars, that way there’s more to go around especially if you plan on gifting it to VSP’s (very special peeps).
- Raspberries contain both pectin and acid so it sets up fairly well