Farm Girl

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Raspberry Jam


      Raspberry jam is a wonderful simple pleasure that brings color into your life when summer is over. Surprisingly it takes more than just raspberries and sugar to make this jam. It also takes inspiration. Inspiration can be taken from the scent of lilac edged sweet peas, the buds on an Othello rose, watching vanilla beans steep in vodka, or even Suki wanting her picture to be taken.

     Shown above are not only the regular red raspberries, but also golden raspberries, which I must admit are my favorite. Somehow they manage to taste like honey and still maintain the characteristic raspberry flavor. You might find these in the supermarket, but I find that grocery stores tend to carry fruits that have less developed flavor than those you might find elsewhere. There is good reason for the less pronounced flavor. It is that these varieties tend to have an extended shelf life and so they wont spoil as quickly. If you have the chance, though, go to a Farmer's Market or a family run farm near you to get the best produce possible. The berries used in making the jam are from Rutiz Family Farms in Arroyo Grande, CA.

Step 1 in Jam Making: Clean the kitchen. This includes all of the dishes waiting to be put away in the dishwasher.

Step 2: Go and get your berries. The fresher you get them, the more flavor is imparted into the jam! (Note that the final volume of jam is roughly equivalent to the amount of berries used)

Step 3: Wash/rinse your berries. Hey you've worked hard so far, and you wouldn't want to ruin your jam         by getting bug guts in it.

Step 4: Wash jars and place the clean jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. Keep them hot. I usually keep them in simmering water while I'm jamming. (note: keep jars in one pan of boiling water, and the lids in a different one to facilitate their retrieval later)

Step 5: While your berries are drying on a paper towel, measure out as much sugar as you have berries. (for example if you have 4 cups of berries, measure out 4 cups of sugar)

Step 6: Place berries in a large saucepan and cook over high heat. (This will make them juicy) Stir Constantly, and mash the berries. Bring to a full boil, let it boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Step 7: Add sugar, return to a boil, and boil until it forms a gel (about 5 minutes) You can test for the gel stage by having a glass of ice water at hand, and occasionally dropping a little of the mixture in. Gather the mixture into a little ball in the water, take it out of the water and if it immediately loses shape and flattens, then the mixture is ready. This is what is known as the "soft-ball stage." If you're using a candy thermometer, the soft-ball stage is reached between 234˚F-240˚F

Step 8: Pour mixture into sterilized jars (careful those jars are HOT!) leaving 1/4 inch of room at the top. Wipe the rim and threads with a damp towel and seal lids. Tighten lids, but don't super-human strength tighten them.

Step 9: Turn jars upside down to cool. As the air inside condenses when the jam loses heat, the pop up lid will be sucked down, and you'll hear a "pop." The jars that "pop" are properly sealed and can be stored in the pantry for about a year. Any that do not "pop" should be put into the fridge so as to be consumed first.

Step 10 (optional): Make up cute little labels for your jam that can say stuff like "Royal Raspberry Requirement to be used by x/x. Any undeserving man who touches this jar will have to do the dishes." :) You can have lots of fun here.

      Jam makes great gifts and it gives the maker  a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. "Look at me, I made something from scratch. Not everyone can do that." Now sit back, relax with a viewing of "How to Marry a Millionaire" and eat some toast with butter and raspberry jam.

Bon appetit!♡

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