Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Impatient Person's Raspberry Jam

Perennials can be great instruments of torture.  No, really... it's true.  Take my raspberry bushes as an example.  They tease.  They start to produce berries, which causes all sorts of excitement.

Then they take what feels like forever to bring the fruits to the perfect level of ripeness.  For many people, this wouldn't be a problem.  I, however, have this really bad habit.  As they ripen, I pick them.  Then I eat them.

Again, this wouldn't be a problem, really, except that what I really wanted was to make raspberry jam. A great aspiration, of course, but when you eat every raspberry that ripens, rather than saving it for later, you run into problems.

Like having to wait ten days to make it, rather than the three or four that it would otherwise take.

Perennials have the wonderful talent of not producing all of their berries all at once.  This means that you don't have to worry about getting out and harvesting everything all at once, which means that you never have to worry about the berries spoiling.  It also, however, means that you have to save some of the berries when you pick them, rather than eating them whenever you please.  Torture!

For over a week, I'd gather the raspberries.  I'd munch on half of them, then hesitantly place the other half of the (small) harvest into my refrigerator.  Impatient, I'd constantly look in on my treasures, expecting the amount to increase via spontaneous cloning, or something equally absurd.

Finally, I managed to accumulate a whole 1/2 cup of berries!

Yeah, I know... that's a pretty small amount, but as I said, I was very impatient. It was time to make my jam.

I grabbed my smallest pot and dumped the raspberries inside.  There were so few of them that they didn't even fully cover the bottom!

I wasn't daunted by this, however, because there was one thing that I very clearly remembered about raspberry jam:

No jam is easier to make than raspberry jam!

See, you don't need pectin, first of all.  I mean, sure you can use it... if you really want to, but why bother?  Pectin is added in order to get things to coagulate.  Pectin keeps you from having a runny, oozing mess.  Raspberry jam doesn't need it.  As long as you get your proportions right, you're golden.  Raspberry jam thickens quite nicely without adding any pectin.

I decided to just throw 1/2 cup of sugar into the pot, which I had already placed on the burner (set to medium heat).  In the past, I always got the raspberries to a boil, then added the sugar, then brought it to a boil again.

But this time I was impatient.  I wanted raspberry jam, and I wanted it now

I then added a few drops of lemon juice.  I stirred it continually, until it came to a boil.

Once it came to a boil, I looked at the clock.  The time read 3:49 pm, and the raspberry jam mixture needed to boil for at least one minute.  I therefore elected to remove it from the heat after the time hit 3:51, just to be on the safe side.  

Upon removing it from the heat, I poured my raspberry jam mixture into the smallest mason jar that I own (Wide mouth jar.  It's less messy that way.), and closed the lid.

Since I was going to be eating it soon anyway, I really didn't need to seal the lid, but I feel the job just isn't complete without it, so I inverted the jar and let it sit upside down for a little over five minutes.

This is not something you want to do if you plan on storing your raspberry jam, however.  

This sealing method isn't very secure for the long term.  If you plan on storing it anywhere except for the fridge, you need to use another method to be safe.  My preferred method is the boiling water bath.  It's easy, and if you do small batches you don't even have to buy anything. has some easy instructions on how to do your own water bath sealing if you've never done it before.  (***Special note: the wire rack they mention is absolutely necessary, but I've always just twist-tied a few mason jar lids together, and they work just as well as a store-bought rack***)

The next morning, I decided to have breakfast outside.  The menu for the morning centered on toast with my yummy, much anticipated jam, of course, and it was delish!  

The most beautiful thing about making your own raspberry jam at home is that you can make it exactly the way your tastebuds want it.  How cool is that?

A Recap of my Method:

1.  Measure out the raspberries.

2.  Measure out the same amount of sugar.

3.  Stick them in a pot set on a medium heat burner.  Add a few drops of lemon, to taste.

4.  Stir like an obsessed person.

5.  Once it gets to a gorgeous boil, keep it that way for at least a minute.

6.  Pour it into a jar and seal.

7.  Pace around the house for what seems like an eternity as you wait for it to cool completely before serving.  There's no getting around this part.  If it doesn't set, you'll have ooze instead of jam.  To be safe, let it cool overnight.

Easy, right?  Well, ok... number 7 is kinda tough if you're as impatient as I was.  In the end, though, it's totally worth it.

Now go make some easy, yummy, raspberry jam!

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