by Crystal Sands
It’s a mad world. So I make jam.
Last year, I made nearly 70 jars of jam–raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry. We did not eat all of these jars ourselves. I made many of them to share.
I also made some of them to sell, with the idea that, perhaps, I could help figure out how to make our farm a little more profitable. In the end, however, I realized that the jars of jam meant too much to me to sell them. They were priceless to me, and the only thing I know to do with priceless things is give them away. So that’s what I did.
My husband was worried a little about how much I was giving away and watched carefully how much raspberry went out of the house. When we ran out of jam a month or so ago, he bemoaned all of the jam I gave away–but only a little. He’s a generous soul really.
This summer, my goal is to make more jam, and the strawberries are just about ripe. For now, however, I wanted to share my recipe for raspberry jam and my process for those reading this who may be where I was a few years ago–eager but anxious about making your own homemade jam.
The biggest tip I can give you is to use the low-sugar fruit pectin, as the regular pectin requires so much sugar to set up that you taste more sugar than berry in your jam, and I am a big believer in tasting the berry.
I hope these instructions are helpful.
6 quarts fresh raspberries
8 cups organic sugar
2 boxes Sure Jell low sugar fruit pectin
8 wide-mouth Ball jam jars with lids and bands, cleaned (though you may not fill all of them)
1 large ladle
1 large pot for cooking the berries, sugar, and pectin
1 large pot for heating your jars and lids
1 very large pot for the hot water bath used to seal your jam
1 canning tool kit (includes tongs, a wand with a magnet at the end for fetching lids in hot water, and a wide-mouth funnel)
First, make room on your stove top for all of your pots and get your space set up. Put some of your jars and lids in the jar pot. You don’t want that pot to boil, as it will pop your lids, but you want to make sure the water is hot, as your jam will be very hot. If you put hot jam into a cool jar, you could break the glass jar.
Start your extra large pot of water for your water bath, as it will take a bit for that much water to boil. Basically, you have to add enough water to cover your filled jars by an inch or so. Of course, keep in mind that adding the jars increases the water level.
Wash your berries, and dump them into your berry pot. Add the sugar and get the mixture to cook on medium to medium-high heat (basically you want a mild bubble). Then, whisk in your pectin. Let the mixture simmer until it starts to thicken a bit.
Use the tongs and wand to pull out a jar, a lid, and a band. Using the ladle and funnel, fill your jar with the raspberry jam liquid. Leave about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of head space.
Before you add the lid, dry the rim of the jar, the lid, and the band. You want a clean connection between your jar rim and your lid.
Repeat this process until you have filled all of your jars. If you have some extra that doesn’t quite fill a jar, keep that out to enjoy as soon as it cools. The rest of your jars (only your full jars) will go into the water bath.
Using the tongs, place your jars in the bath, ensuring your water is at a good boil. Make sure the water covers all of the lids, and let them boil for ten minutes.
Remove the jars and let them cool on your counter. You will hear a little “pop” when the lid is sucked down by the pressure. This means you have been successful!
Jars of successfully-sealed jam last at least a year. Once a jar is opened, the jam is good for a few months. And, most certainly, there is nothing better than homemade raspberry jam.
*Header photo credit: Ashim D’Silva, Unsplash