Monday, August 23, 2010

Raspberry Freezer Jam

One of my favorite memories of time spent at my grandma's house is the summer my mom, aunts, and grandmother made strawberry freezer jam from the strawberries we picked at a Michigan U-Pick farm.  I can still remember the taste of the sweet pink concoction and the feeling of always wanting more.  I think I lived on strawberry jam on toast for breakfast for the rest of that year.

Ms. Humble's post about freezer jam the other day brought all those memories and sensations rushing back and encouraged me to make some using the fresh raspberries from the garden.  In the past we had stored the freezer jam in old baby food jars, but considering my kids are way past the baby food stage I purchased some half pint jars instead.  Finding them was a journey in itself, but lets say that I have a greater respect for K-Mart than I ever had in the past.

This morning I went out an harvested as many fresh berries as I could find.  This was not an easy task considering that the bees were a little upset that I had disturbed their pollination to harvest.  I wound up with about a pint of rasperries (and down about a pint of blood - those mosquitoes are vicious this year).

Raspberry Harvest

My fresh picked raspberries in my mom's old Tupperware measuring bowl. It must be 25 years old but it's still my favorite mixing bowl.

I purchased two more pints at the store to add to what I was able to harvest.  I think I missed the best harvest by about a month.  It's been either too rainy or too hot to be out in the garden for any length of time, so we've missed out on a fair amount of berries.  Also, my berries were perfectly to almost overripe so I felt that adding the slightly underripe berries from the store would encourage my jam to set up firmer.  After cleaning I had to decide if I was going to make a cooked jam or not.  I seem to remember my family cooking the strawberries in the past (perhaps it was just the pectin), but I know how fresh raspberry puree tastes so I'm not cooking the berries, I want to keep the flavor bright and fresh.

Using my 4 cup measuring cups, I smashed small batches of the berries with my potato masher.  I made sure to keep some pieces because we prefer a chunkier jam.  All of the crushed berries were transferred to my mixing bowl.

Raspberry Puree

Forgive the blurry picture.  I have the cruddiest light in the house and the flash didn't help.

I'm not straining out the seeds because both my husband and I like the seeds and it seems to make it more raspberry-y (is SO a word!).  Feel free to strain some or all of them out at this point if you prefer.

I added the sugar, stirred to incorporate it all, and let it sit and dissolve into the mixture while I prepared the pectin (I used Sure-Jell, but use whatever you like and is available.  Most have recipes for freezer jam included).


Right before adding the pectin I gave my crushed raspberries one last stir to make sure the sugar was incorporated and dissolved.  I added the pectin, stirring well to make sure that it was evenly distributed throughout.  Not trusting my spouted bowl to pour neatly and lacking a wide mouth funnel, I used my small ladle to spoon the mixture into my sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-3/4 inches of room for expansion (I filled to just under the threads for the lid).  I wiped off any spillage, put on the lids and let it sit for 24 hours to set as recommended in the Sure-Jell instructions.  Brands vary, as do the instructions, so follow what it says in your package of pectin.  The recipe yielded 8 half pints (approximately 8 cups) of raspberry freezer jam.  This is an easy way to make jam and it's quick too, from start to finish it took about 30 minutes.

Jam Jars

Waiting for it to set up felt like an eternity and of course when it was ready I tried it my favorite way:

Jam On Toast

Now I have to find a way to hide some so my family doesn't obliterate it all in a few days.  You can make freezer jam and jelly from a variety of fruits, my instruction sheet lists 13 different varieties including hot pepper.  Next time I may make a blueberry-raspberry mixture or blueberry-peach.  Let me know if you make freezer jam (or jelly) and what your favorite flavor is.

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