Summertime is the best time to take advantage of fresh fruit, berries and vegetables. One of my families past-times in the summer is to pick berries to eat and for making jams and many different desserts. It is something that is easy to do, doesn’t cost anything and is healthy.
I know that when I was starting out growing my own fruits and vegetables I thought that it was a complicated process, however now realize that all you need is good organization and after that let the plants do their job, grow!! When first planting raspberries make sure that the plants are spaced out and to make sure that you have steaks to support the bushes with twine when they grow and get taller. At the planting stage you may want to think of any pathways in-between the plants that you may want and plant accordingly. In the spring you should cut off any dead twigs from the previous year which will help new growth.
As I had mentioned above every year we make JAM which is one of my favourite things about summer. I am going to explain the steps that I take to make my raspberry jam.
Firstly I take any raspberries that I had the previous summer (if any are left) and use that first. During this batch I used both frozen and fresh raspberries. For the fresh raspberries make sure that they are cleaned and make sure that all stems are off the fruit. You may want to mash the fruit and strain it before the cooking process however this all depends on your preference. Straining the jam will remove the seeds. If you have a food processor the mashing process can be made easy by using it! Personally I like the seeds and like chunks of fruit in the jam so I mash the fruit during the cooking process which leaves some chunks of fruit in the jam.
You will need:
- 4 cups of raspberries
- 6 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- 1 and 1/4 packages of certo (which is the brand that I use for my jam)
- a 4 or 5 gallon cooking pot for sanitizing items that will be used
- estimated amount of mason jars with lids: ( aprox. 14- 8oz mason jars or 6 -12 ounce jars)
- a soup spoon to scoop out the berries into the jars or a jam funnel
- a pair of metal salad cooking tongs to take out jars
- a spatula to take out the excess jam from cooking pot when finished
Here are the steps:
If you have frozen raspberries make sure they are thawed before the cooking process. Keep the juices after it’s thawed, you don’t want to throw them away. When I was thawing out my berries It took the afternoon on the counter so if you are planning to make your jam in the morning I would suggest thawing them out ahead of time so that you are not making jam late in the day like I ended up doing.
If you are going to use fresh raspberries make sure that you take out all of the stems and shrub. Clean them well and pick out any berries that do not look right. For instance the berries that you see to the right were not cleaned yet you can see that there are some in there that you would want to take out before the cooking process. So give them a good cleaning and then put them all in a pot to start the cooking process.
For myself step one and two are sort of a multitasking affair. I usually am doing two things at once. For your sanity however I have broken it down into steps. After cleaning the berries you will want to wash with soap and water all the items you will be using to make jam. Pour water into a 4 or 5 gallon cooking pot with all of your covers, mason jars, spoons, salad tongs and so on into the pot on high heat with the lid on to sterilize the jars and items you will be using. Once the water is boiling set your timer for 8 mins, when the timer is finished keep the lid on turn the burner off and forget about it until you need it later.
Put berries into a cooking pot over high heat, stir in sugar and lemon juice constantly stirring until berries come to a hard boil. I noticed during this step that in order to keep berries from staying in a hard boil that you had to stop stirring during this phase. Allow berries to boil for 1 minute then remove them from heat.
Once you remove the berries from the heat set your stove timer for 5 mins. Stir the berries and using a regular kitchen spoon skim the foamy stuff off the top of the berry mixture, stir and repeat the process for the remaining 5 mins. Keep note that the 5 mins was enough time to skim off my raspberry jam however for other jams sometimes I have to skim longer. If it takes you longer than 5 mins that is okay however try not to take too long cause the jam is cooling and you want to get it into the jars while it’s still hot so the jars will seal.
This step is more of a hands off step ( for the most part) in that you don’t want to be touching everything. We want to keep things sterile in this stage. I have a ceramic tile that I use to put my jars on because they are hot when you take them out of the pot however if you don’t have a tile you can use a wooden cutting board. I would prefer the wood cutting board over the glass because you don’t want your mason jars moving when you are at the pouring stage.
The difficult part of this stage will be getting the lids out of the pot. Hang in there they WILL eventually come out, just keep fishing around until you get them. I usually take out a cover first, and then fish around for a lid and put them together. I don’t use the hands off method for the cover I usually hold the outside part of it making sure to not touch the inside part that screws onto the mason jar. For the lid you will want to keep sterile because this is the part that goes right on top of your mason jar. When you are taking the mason jars out set them on the cutting board take out your metal spoon from the pot ( you will need oven mitts for this) and pour your jam into the jars taking caution not to burn yourself. I personally hate this step because I am what you call a clutz and I usually make a mess when trying to put the jam into the jars. You may want to invest in a funnel for jam making to avoid any messy situations or frustrations. If you don’t have a funnel for jam making just use the metal spoon it should be fine if you take your time pouring the jam. Once that is done put your covers on and VOILA your jam is ready to cool!
Now to put an even more frugal twist to it you can decorate your jars to give away as gifts to friends and family. This would be a good gift for different occasions and people just love receiving home-made jam!! When I make jam I give some to my mom and dad and when she makes her peach and plum jelly she gives me some of hers too. That way we both have a variety of jams in our cupboards. That is why when I make jam I usually make more than one batch so I try to make a day out if it to get a few batches of different jam. For instance the day I made this jam I also made some batches of strawberry jam too :)
You can usually find jam recipes in the box of pectin, certo or whatever it is you are using. I did somewhat follow the instructions for certo however changed some of the amounts of the ingredients because the jam was not how I like it. Jam usually lasts on average up to a year in the cupboard with a seal if you finish off your jam jars by adding wax you could leave it longer. I personally didn’t add wax this time because it’s my first jam batch of the summer and I know it wont last even a month in my household!! I will be however adding this step with my future batches.
You can find wax for jam making in the same isle that you find the pectin, sugar and mason jars, it is really simple to use just melt on stove top and top off bottles with it before adding the cover.
And that is how I make jam. I will leave it at that and hope that this post was helpful. Any comments, suggestions and questions are welcome take care and happy jam making!!