Friday, 30 August 2013

Easiest and best raspberry jam

Well let’s turn away from the deep stuff and look at what really matters: jam.  There is something altogether delightful about making and eating home made jam.  It makes you feel like someone from Little House on the Prairie when you  have a pantry or a store cupboard full of home made preserves, and better still it tastes fantastic.  I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth and lots of shop bought jams are far too sweet for me but a home made jam has a juicy tang to it that undercuts the sweetness perfectly. 

If you have never made jam before this is the easiest jam ever, doesn’t take too long and uses autumn raspberries which we find much easier to grow and tastier than summer ones.  For some reason our raspberries are massively prolific and produce great thickets of canes with runners coming up all over the place, ready to invade the cutting garden or the rhubarb patch the moment you turn your back.  For a couple of weeks we are quite excited about bringing in raspberries and eat them with cream or icecream or on cereal for breakfast but eventually we simply can’t keep up.  Raspberries freeze well but they jam even better.

You will need:
1 kilogram of raspberries.  I try to make sure there are no creatures in the fruit but I never wash them as it makes the jam too wet.

1 kilogram of jam sugar.  Raspberries have very little of the natural pectin which helps jam to set.  If you don’t have jam sugar you can use ordinary granulated but you will produce a very runny jam.

5 or 6 empty jam jars with screw lids.

A large pan, ideally a preserving pan.  If you don’t have one use your biggest pan but don’t forget that the jam will boil and this will mean that while it is cooking the fruit mixture will be about three times the depth of the raw fruit and sugar so, to give room for expansion, the fruit mixture should take up no more than the bottom quarter of your pan.  If it takes up more than this, divide it between two pans.


I use a metal jam funnel to make it easy to get the jam into the jars.  If you don’t have one you can achieve a reasonably tidy transfer from pan to jar by using a plastic jug.

Make sure the jars are really clean and then sterilise them.  There are all sorts of ways of doing this.  You can wash them in the dishwasher but that always takes too long for me.  You can put them in the microwave for a minute without their lids.  I put a newspaper onto a shelf in the oven to spread the heat and put the jars on it for about ten minutes at the lowest heat my oven will produce.  My father in law likes the Daily Mail.  While I try never to read it because it makes me bounce around swearing and tearing my hair out and I think that has to be bad for the soul, it is the perfect thickness for lining an oven shelf.  This is what is known as a small mercy.

While the jars are sterilising put a small plate in the fridge to get cold.  You will use this to test whether your jam is ready to set.

Put the fruit and the sugar in the pan with no added water over a low heat.  Stir gently from time to time until the sugar is dissolved. 

Then turn the heat up so that you get a fast boil.  When it has been boiling for about seven minutes take the pan off the heat to test for setting point.  Whenever you test you need to make sure the jam is not still cooking.  Take a teaspoonful of jam from the pan and put it on your cold plate.  Put the plate back in the fridge and leave it for one minute.  Take the plate out and push the jam with the end of your finger.  If it is ready to set it should wrinkle.  Jam made with jam sugar gets to this stage pretty quickly and reliably.  It really is a wrinkle you are looking for, not a great cavernous crag like the wrinkles on the face of an ancient shepherd but a clear, gentle wrinkle like the kind you get under your eyes.  If your finger leaves a clear patch on the plate but the jam shows no signs of a gentle wrinkle you are not quite ready yet.  Put the plate back in the fridge and the jam back on the heat for another three or four minutes of boiling and test again. 


When it is ready to set, take your jars from the oven (they will be hot).  Potting up the jam can be a messy business.  I use a heatproof plastic jug and a plastic bowl.  I dip the jug in the pan and hold it over the bowl so as not to cover the kitchen with jammy drips.  Despite this I normally manage to drip somewhere.  Pour the hot jam into the hot jars and tighten the lids.  If you do drip down the side of the jar, the drips wipe off easily with a damp cloth while the jam is warm.  Similarly, the pan and jug come clean quickly and easily if you wash them in hot soapy water immediately.



Line the jars up.  Label them.  Open one and have some straight away on fresh bread.

Here there should be a picture of home made bread with Welsh butter, slathered in new raspberry jam, but I ate it.

37 comments:

  1. looks delicious. I've been making damson jam today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love damsons! Our crop this year is almost non existent. Not sure why!

      Delete
  2. White currant jelly yesterday, red currant today. More red currant tomorrow. Tell me about wrinkles!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our chickens seem to have eaten all the red currants which is a pity. Love them.

      Delete
  3. Raspberry jam, delicious. I made redcurrant jam last week. The raspberries have often little creatures (worms) in my garden, not such a success.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish we could grow redcurrants. We have some bushes but the hens tend to get them first and we have so much fruit I never get round to netting them!

      Delete
  4. I've only ever made jam once. I had a breadmaker with a jam making function. It came out okay but I've never made any since then. I just might try again using your excellent tutorial. There's always fresh fruit on the reduction counter at the supermarket, perfect for experimenting with.

    Thanks for visiting my little corner of Blogtopia. I've just had a nose around yours and I like what I see.

    Have a great weekend
    Ruby x (moleymakes)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not a fan of breadmakers, either for bread or for jam! It is pretty easy to do it the traditional way. Glad to have you here!

      Delete
  5. I've never made jam before, only jelly, but I have a recipe for blackberry on my desk as I write. Feel more confident now. Just as well, there are hundreds of blackberries in the garden. Wish me luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you have a go and let us know how it turns out. It is not difficult once you know the basics, honestly!

      Delete
  6. Elizabeth, I love the idea of making jam. I love the idea of having vast supplies of raspberries just waiting to be picked!

    I've sent you an email this evening, to the address I had for you from years ago. Hoping that you will receive it.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  7. Elizabeth, I love the idea of making jam. I love the idea of having vast supplies of raspberries just waiting to be picked!

    I've sent you an email this evening, to the address I had for you from years ago. Hoping that you will receive it.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  8. Elizabeth, I hope that you will receive the long email I've sent you this evening. I used the address I have for you left over from years ago.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Frances, yes, have had the email and replied to you. Would be great to meet you while you are in the UK!

      Delete
  9. Thank you for my morning chuckle.I'd have eaten it too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Delicious and deliciously explained and not a calorie in sight. Am drooling over the keyboard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally calorie free, like all home made food.

      Delete
  11. Only just cleared out my freezer with pound upon pound of jam from last year's fruit before filling it with this year's crop. I freeze my surplus fresh fruit to make jam in small batches through the winter in case I want the fruit for something else instead. Blackcurrants failed miserably, first time ever, raspberries didn't produce much. I like to add the juice of an orange to my raspberry jam. Makes a very subtle difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a great idea to freeze it and use it in batches. I feel much more like making jam on a rainy winter day than a hot summer one!

      Delete
  12. I'm just getting ready to make another batch of blackberry jam -- I always follow the directions in the Certo package -- that's the brand of Pectin additive I've used for decades, as did my mother's generation before me, my grandma's as well, I think. I don't think we have a Jam Sugar, which incorporates the pectin, over here -- a neat product, looks like. It was fun reading through your instructions to see the similarities and differences between mine -- biggest one I noticed is that I always focus on a full rolling boil for one minute (i.e. can't be stirred down). And because I'm following "official" instructions from the package, I'm always scrupulous about the sterilising of jars, perhaps unnecessarily so. Really wanting one of those jam funnels now -- I've never seen that before and manage with a soup ladle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The jam funnel is a great invention. Over here you can get them from a company called Lakeland - not sure how far they send stuff!

      Delete
  13. Interesting. I would have expected the fruit to go hard if the sugar goes in before it's cooked. Have I got the principle wrong or do raspberries behave differently from blackberries?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find that blackcurrants go hard if you put the sugar in at the same time so they need to be cooked for a few minutes to soften the skins first before you put the sugar in. Doesn't seem to matter for raspberries and blackberries, perhaps they are mushier in the first place!

      Delete
  14. That sounds reassuringly straightforward, I have dreams of making raspberry jam as good as my Nan used to make, assuming my raspberries get prolific enough, this seems a good place to start since she was not a woman in to fuss and bother!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is straightforward Janet! Hope your raspberries produce in sufficient quantities for experimentation.

      Delete
  15. Home made bread straight from the oven, tear off the crust, cover in farm butter and freshly made raspberry jam - a feast fit for a queen.

    ReplyDelete
  16. It looks and sounds delicious, and I agree about eating it with freshly made, homemade bread - some of the best eating to be had! Blackberry Jelly is the jam most eaten in this house, so I'm gearing up for that, but I also have plans for more soft fruit planting for next year - especially raspberries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pity you are not closer. I will be pulling up and throwing away some of the runners from our superstrong canes!

      Delete
  17. Loved the small mercy comment above all. Jane

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ooh, yum! Looks like I am going to have a bumper crop of rasps this year (as long as I stop snacking on them quite so much), so I may be able to give raspberry jam a go. Very clear instructions - thanks. The only jam I ever make is damson, and they're so high in pectin that it's a doddle. I'm off to buy some jam sugar right now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it is a roaring success you have another show entry on your hands!

      Delete
  19. It all looks so good!
    There will be no jam made here this year - I've run out of time and fruit. Everything we picked went into pies or straight from the bucket into the mouth of a little grandson! We picked blackberries and salal berries and had some good desserts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, I know two boys who are great at intervening between the canes and the bowl. I work on the basis that eating what you pick is fine, pinching out of my bowl is not!

      Delete
  20. Windfall and blackberry jelly on the go here ... different method but just as yummy :)

    ReplyDelete

Comments are the best thing and the conversations they produce are the whole purpose of blogging for me. Do tell me what you think!