Raspberry jam

Our neighbor across the street picks Meyer lemons from our tree and, in exchange, brings us raspberries from her garden.  Of those we can’t eat right away, I freeze some and make jam from the rest.   She brought some berries over on Thursday, and I made jam Friday evening after work; raspberries are very fragile, and you have to use them fast.

I don’t know whether it’s the recipe or her berries, but the jam concentrates and intensifies the berries’ flavor into a sort of essence of all things raspberry, much more intense than any commercial raspberry jam I’ve tasted.  Here’s the recipe I use, based on one I got from the Internet but adapted a bit over time:


6 cups of fresh raspberries

4 cups of sugar

3 tablespoons or so of lemon juice

6 half-pint canning jars with double lids.

Start by boiling the jars in a deep pan or kettle, in water covering them by about an inch.   Near the end of the boil, you can add the lids; they should be boiled only briefly.

Put the raspberries and lemon juice into a stainless steel saucepan or kettle large enough to hold them and the sugar.  Use only stainless steel, because the acids in the fruit will react with aluminum or cast iron and give the jam a metal taste.

Heat the berries and juice, without the sugar, over medium-high heat, stirring a lot to prevent anything from sticking, until the mixture comes to a boil.

Add the sugar, stir it in, and continue boiling it all and stirring a lot until the jam sets.  This part is tricky with raspberries, because the jam sets early and fast, compared to other fruits.  If you wait too long, you’ll have jars of raspberry fruit leather.  (I’ve been there.)  Pink foam will form on the surface of the jam mixture as it boils, and as the jam gets close to setting, the foam will get gradually darker and more gooey.   From time to time, check the status of the jam by dripping a few drops onto a cold plate and tipping the plate so that the jam flows down it.  If the jam is ready, it will congeal and stop flowing as it cools on the plate, and if you run your finger across it it will have a soft but jammy texture.

At this point, hurriedly skim what foam is left from the top of the jam and discard it (or use it later on ice cream.)    Immediately pour the mixture into the sterilized jars, to about 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe any spilled jam from the tops of the jars, put on the lids and bands right away, and tighten the bands to hand-tightness.  You will probably have four full jars plus part of a fifth.

Put the jars of jam back into the kettle you boiled them in, add enough more water to cover them by an inch, bring them to a boil and cook them for five minutes.   Take them out of the kettle, set them on a counter or hot pad, and wait.  Over the next ten or fifteen minutes, as the jam and jars cool, you will hear each lid make a single popping sound.  This means the lids have made an air-tight seal.  Check by gently pressing the top of each jar with a finger; if the jar lid has popped, the lid won’t give when pressed.  If you get a jar that doesn’t seal, or if you have a partial jar after filling the rest, refrigerate it and use the jam in the next few weeks.  The sealed jars will keep a year or more.


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