Raspberry jam, red and glossy

It’s Sunday morning, the sun has finally come out after a couple of cool days and I spend a couple of hours in the garden searching for raspberries, those sweet but tart red berries perfect for eating directly from their canes or paired with cakes cream or made in wine and jam. My own raspberries, planted only recently, are still a long way off from producing fruit and I did have to remove about three canes that were only wood (Gordo asked why I was planting sticks? I had no answer) but I live in hope that I will have inherited my mum and dads green fingers and that I will have raspberries to enjoy next year.

Raspberries are a hanging fruit and are known to hide under leaves and around corners. Picking raspberries at eye level only will leave have of the crop behind so I spent half the time on my hands and knees in the dry earth searching for these berries, before the birds returned to eat.

I was tempted to listen to a podcast while I worked (I currently have over 30 waiting in the queue) but it was gloriously peaceful and calm morning and how better to meditate and relax than to work slowly and methodically filling a bowl full of raspberries until it was abundant and overflowing.

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The harvest was so good I manged to pick 3 lbs (1.36 kg) of fruit that would warrant being made into raspberry jam, being too many to eat alone.

I grew up with homemade marmalade, jams (raspberry, strawberry, blackcurrant and gooseberry) and chutneys (apple and tomato) courtesy of the fruit and vegetables from my dad’s garden and the busy hands of my mother. We were always cajoled into picking the fruit, topping and tailing gooseberries and blackcurrants and using a cast iron meat grinder to shred the orange skins for marmalade but it thought us the importance of the provenance of food, its quality and the value we should have in good food.

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Less is more when it comes to jam making and this recipe contains only two ingredients. I add the juice of a lemon as I believe it adds a little freshness but this is completely optional. Raspberries have enough pectin in them to allow the jam to set by itself, as compared to strawberries that need the helping hand of lemon juice or citric acid.

A leading brand of jam uses the following ingredients: “Raspberries, Sugar, Cane Sugar, Concentrated Lemon Juice, Gelling Agent (Fruit Pectin), Prepared with 50g Raspberries per 100g, Total Sugar content: 60g per 100g”. The added fruit pectin and higher sugar content must explain why this jam is stiff and jelly like. What I can’t explain is why the branded version is so dark and dull.

Try this recipe and method when the fruit is in season and enjoy.

Ingredients

3 lbs of raspberries

3 lbs of sugar

1 lemon (optional)

Equipment

7/8 jars with lids – washed and heated

Large saucepan

Greaseproof/Parchment squares or rounds

Method

  1. Place the jars and lids (if using) onto a baking tray and place in a low oven to heat up (this will also sterilise the jars).
  2. Weigh out the sugar into a heatproof bowl and place in the oven at 150 °C to warm up.
  3. Put the raspberries in a large saucepan and put on a medium heat to begin breaking down.
  4. Once the raspberries are hot and broken down, take the saucepan off the heat and add the warmed sugar. Keep the mixture off the heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Place the mixture back on the heat and boil gently for 20/30 minutes being careful not to let it burn.
  6. A pale pink foam will form at the top of the cooking mixture and use a large spoon to skim it off.
  7. Test the jam by putting a blob and on saucer or plate to see that it begins to set.
  8. Fill the heated jars with the jam, cover with a disc of greaseproof paper and finish with the lid.

Tip: Place a metal spoon in the jar before you begin filling as it will help dissipate the heat and prevent the jar from cracking.

Tip: Put the lid on while the jam is still hot. As it cools the metal will contract and the lid will tighten giving a very good seal to the jam.

Raspberry jam, perfect on buttered toast, layered in a Victoria sponge or Bakewell tart, or when it is this good, simply by the spoon. You won’t regret trying this recipe. Until next time………………..

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