One spring day when I was a little girl, my father took me over to a local farm to help him pick up some manure for his vegetable garden. Always quick to observe the details of his surroundings, he immediately noticed a white plastic bucket containing six or seven bare twigs in a corner of the farmyard. Upon inquiry, he learned that these twigs were the seemingly dead remnants of a raspberry patch somewhere on the property and were ours for the taking.
We brought them home, stuck them in the ground, and for the next 10 or 15 years enjoyed an ever-growing bounty of the most perfectly delicious red raspberries I have ever tasted. My mother always made jam throughout the summer and we’d then enjoy it the rest of the year. This is the simplest jam—and also one of the best.–Rachel Saunders
LC The Perfect Pan for Preserves Note
As the author of the much ballyhooed—and deservedly so—The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook explains, it takes a very large pan to make even a relatively small batch of preserves. Reason being, in order for the jam to have a spreadable consistency when cool, a large quantity of moisture must be cooked out of them. Yet in order for the fruit’s original flavor to remain intact, the preserves need to be over heat for as little time as possible. As a consequence, a wide pan is essential, as it allows a maximum of evaporation to occur in a minimum of time. If you decide to make a larger batch, bear in mind the moisture to be eliminated is directly proportional to the quantity of fruit used, so it would, in theory, need to be cooked for a much longer time. To ensure you do not compromise the quality of the preserves, you may want to make a couple small batches rather than a single large one.
Raspberry Jam Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 25 minutes, not including processing | Makes five 8-oz jars
- 2 1/4 pounds red raspberries
- 3 pounds white cane sugar
- 1. Place a saucer and five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later. Have ready a medium-mesh strainer or chinois suspended over a heatproof bowl.
- 2. Combine the berries and sugar in an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive pot. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring and mashing constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the juice begins to run from the berries. As soon as the sugar dissolves, increase the heat to high. Continue to cook, stirring very frequently, until the mixture boils. Boil the mixture vigorously for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Best to begin testing for doneness after 10 minutes.
- 3. To test for doneness, remove the pan from the heat and carefully transfer a scant half teaspoonful of jam to one of your frozen spoons. Return the spoon to the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the jam runs; if the jam does not run, and if it has thickened to a near-jelly consistency, it is done. If the jam runs, return the pan to the stove and cook the mixture for another few minutes, stirring and testing again as many times as needed.
- 4. Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim any remaining foam from the surface of the preserve. If you don’t mind seeds in your jam, skip ahead to step 5. If you prefer seedless jam, quickly transfer the jam to the mesh strainer and force as much of the preserve as possible through it by pressing on it with the back of the spoon. Discard the seeds. Skim any foam that lingers on the surface of the strained jam.
- 5. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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Raspberry Jam Recipe © 2010 Rachel Saunders. Photo © 2010 Sara Remington. All rights reserved.