September 10, 2009



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
  1. Preheat oven to 250. Place sugar in a shallow ovenproof pan and heat in the oven for 15 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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


  1. nice call Izzy! i am so ready for fall and toast n jam. nina, keep up the great and inspiring stuff you put up... d.

  2. I just canned (strawberry jam) for the first time this evening and I'm now inspired to make this raspberry jam. I'm hooked.

  3. Please tell me what kind of jar you used for that jam... it all looks so yummy... the jam color and the jar shape... Wow!

  4. Mary B,

    Your question has inspired me to do a post on jars. The jar in question is a Weck jar. In my post I will list resources and my fave jars. Coming soon...

  5. That's a very smart idea, to preheat the sugar in the oven to avoid excess damage to the fruit! I'll have to give that a try.

  6. HI - this will be my first time making jam. Is it necessary to process in a hot water bath ????

  7. Dear Anonymous,

    Don't be afraid of a hot a hot water bath. It is an extra step of precaution to insure that you kill any nasty little spoilers that might linger in your jars and it provides a secure seal ensuring the shelf life of your goods. It sounds complicated but it’s really pretty simple.
    Find your largest stockpot and fit the bottom with something the jars can sit on an inch or so away from the bottom of the pan. I have used on various occasions, a vegetable steamer, a round cake rack, jar lids right side up etc. You do not need to buy a canning pot, but if you really want one check out, the Ball web site.
    Fill the pot about 2/3rds up with water and turn on low heat. Meanwhile your lids should be in hot water on the stove and your clean jars should be waiting (I like mine warm out of the dishwasher).
    When your jars are filled according to instructions, your lids are on and sealed, carefully lower them into the pot. The one tool I do recommend getting is a jar lifter, also available at BALL. I have made do with tongs many a time, but be careful, we don't want any burns. Fill the pot with more hot water to cover your jars by an inch. Cover and bring to a boil. Start timing at the boil. After required amount of time turn heat off. Let jars rest in pot for 5 minutes. Carefully remove jars to a heat safe surface (wood, folded towels etc. not a cold counter top).
    Consult the National Center For Food Preservation for more detailed instructions.

    I hope this helps, sorry it’s so long winded.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions.
    Good luck!