Monday, September 27, 2010

Raspberry Jam - Hot and Not

One of my favorite things about going to my Uncle Glen and Aunt Chris' house when I was a kid was the raspberry bushes. Uncle Glen hosted a huge garden for the entire family on his farm, and many weekends out of the summer were spent there picking beans, sweet corn, beets, potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and apples. My favorite things, besides the gigantic pumpkins he grew for Halloween, were the raspberry bushes.

Boy do I miss those free berries! I splurged this year and decided to make some seedless raspberry jam for this year. There were raspberries on sale at the store, and I also picked up some more at the end of the day at the Farmer's market on Sunday. I washed the berries in small batches and then put them into a pot. I then heated them through and mashed them down with a potato masher. This made a raspberry slurry that exposed just how many seeds there were.

From there, I took a fine mesh sieve and pushed the raspberry puree through. This was a super time intensive but easy to do task. I was surprised that when I dumped the filtered juice and pulp into the pot for the cook up of the jam there were still some seeds present. They were super small, so I am not sure if they just happened to fit through the mesh or if I was a bit sloppy at some point and lost some seeds into the filtered juice.

I ended up with four cups of juice. I added three cups of sugar and the juice of a lemon to preserve the color of the raspberries into the cooking pot. I learned when doing this jam that it reached a solid jam state two degrees sooner than my usual jams. I am wondering if I would have pulled the cherry earlier if it would have turned out. Perhaps I just cooked that jam too much which turned it into the odd texture it is.

I ended up with three jars of jam. I put crushed red pepper into one of the jars to make a spicy and hot version of the jam. It is great for an appetizer when poured over warmed brie, baked under pastry with brie, or poured over warmed cream cheese and served with crackers. I hope that one jar of it is enough for this year. Two of the jars are plain jam, but one is going off to a friend. That leaves me one highly prized jar for myself. I am thinking about trying a recipe out of one of my canning recipe books that cuts the raspberries with apples to stretch the jam out into a bigger batch without using more berries. It sounds like an intriguing way to make this without the high cost. Things to ponder for next year, till then, I will be hiding this jar away, so I don't open it until I really need a pick me up.

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