In this episode, Kathy discusses how to make raspberry jam without commercial pectin. She includes steps for making jam and freezing or canning the jam.
Play the episode
Find the complete recipe for Raspberry Jam
Recipes mentioned in this podcast:
In this episode you'll learn:
- What type of raspberries make the best jam
- How to make jam without added pectin
- How to do three different gel tests
- How to freeze or water bath process your jam
Where to listen to the podcast
If you love this podcast, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and hop over and leave a comment on Instagram @preservingthepantry!
Hi, and welcome back to the Pantry. Today we are making raspberry jam. Now I truly love fresh raspberries. I love going out there and picking those ripe raspberries right off the vine and just popping 'em into my mouth.
In fact, I think if I was on a deserted island and could only pick one item to bring with me it would be fresh raspberries. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense. I couldn't probably sustain myself on raspberries alone, but that's how much I love them.
We grow a lot of raspberries. In fact, we have two different raspberry patches. One is a patch that we plant at 18 years ago when we built our house.
These were raspberries that my husband received when he was in fifth grade from his teacher. He has transported those raspberries from house to house, wherever he has moved, always digging up the new roots and bringing them along. They're a wonderful raspberry. They're smaller in size, but the flavor is very intense.
Then about five years ago, my husband received another set of raspberries from a friend and he decided we needed to plant these raspberries because the yield was much bigger. The berries were bigger and the bushes were bigger. The flavor, when I compare them side by side, I prefer the smaller, older variety be berries better, but they're both just as delicious.
When we freeze them or use them in baking, I combine both and you cannot tell the difference once they're not fresh, any longer.
Raspberries are one of those plants that can really thrive and they often will send out runners that will just pop up anywhere. And so you really have to keep an eye on them.
One of our patches is next to some garden beds and I will sometimes find a shoot coming up the middle of the bed. It is a bit of a weed in that way. However, it's also a great way to be able to transplant those. You just dig those up, put them in the ground and they almost just thrive on their own.
I make raspberry jam without any commercial pectin added, there's nothing wrong with commercial pectin.
I often will make jams with the pectin. It's really a lot easier. It's very specific to the exact amount of time that you're going to, you need to boil. It's almost a foolproof method for making. But I like the challenge of making jam without the commercial pectin. Most fruit has high enough pectin in it naturally that under the right conditions, you can get your jam to set up.
Plus there's just something about making a jam that has so many variables involved that I really enjoy making. When you're making jam without commercial pectin, you are in complete control of how much sugar you are actually adding.
The first thing about making jam is your berries. And when you go out to pick your berries, you want the very nice ripe berries, of course, but you also want to include a few of the slightly under ripened berries. I'm not talking about the berries that haven't changed color yet, but I'm talking about the berries that are maybe a little bit lighter, pinkish color and not that full, deep red color yet. And the reason for this is this slightly under ripened berries that have a higher amount of pectin in them than the really nice ripe berries.
I also always add fresh lemon juice. Fresh lemons offers a couple of different things. It offers a brightness to the jam. It helps preserve the color of the jam just slightly. And lemon juice also is very high in pectin. So just in case you have a berry that's a little bit lower in pein, it'll help balance that off and set it. Pectin is needed to help set your jam into that jam, to that gel stage.
To make the jam. What we're going to do is first pick the berries and sort through them. I typically do not wash my berries, but you'll have to make that choice. So where my berries are growing, they don't typically be, get dusty from the road and, we do not use any sort of spray or anything on our berries.
So I know that they're just delicious berries. If you aren't sure where your berries come from, or if they're just slightly dusty, you'll want to give them a rinse. Then just make sure that they get a chance to drain a little bit. You're going to add your berries into a pot along with the desired amount of sugar.
Now I typically use about three pounds of raspberries, which is about 10 cups of berries that aren't crushed. And I typically add four cups of sugar and a quarter cup of lemon juice. You can add just a little bit more sugar, if you like, or a little bit less sugar. The berries do need a little bit of sugar in my opinion, because even if they seem really sweet when you're eating them fresh, once they're cooked down, the tartness of those berries does come out.
But you can alter that a little bit. Remember our sugar is not what's causing our gem to set it's the pectin in the berries and in the lemon. You're going to add everything into the pot and you're going to turn it on to, I usually use a medium to medium high heat. You're going to let that start to cook and giving a stir quite regularly.
You don't want it to burn at all. Once the sugar has dissolved and the berries have softened, you're gonna continue to heat over medium to medium high heat. Until it comes to a rolling boil. Now be careful when it comes to that rolling boil. Jams will tend to foam up. And really, it almost seems like the contents have doubled in size, just keep stirring them, so that it doesn't over boil.
You'll notice that your jam starts to change consistency. It'll be a very quick boil and it'll start to become a thicker type of a boil if you're actually paying attention to it, you'll see it in the way the bubbles are popping. And you'll also hear it. You are going to continue to cook until the jam reaches the gel stage.
This is by far, the most difficult part of this recipe is knowing exactly where that gel stage is. There are three different methods that I use to test the gel stage. The first is called the spoon or the sheeting action test. And while you're stirring, you're going to simply pick up your spoon and hold it sideways and let that jam slide off of the spoon.
At the beginning, it will just come off like water, it just comes off and drops. And then as it starts to thicken a little bit, it you'll start to see that it comes off in these longer drips. Once the jam has reached the gel stage, you'll find it comes off in almost a sheet and you can see the difference as you're going.
This takes some time to really understand what that looks like. I do have a diagram on my website that shows what it looks like, but I find that the more times that you make jam, the more that this will become obvious to you. I don't rely on just that though. I also use another method which is called the cold plate test at the beginning of cooking my jam.
I put a small plate or a couple of small plates in the refrigerator or freezer, so that that's nice and cold. And once I find that my jam is starting to thicken up. I will take one of those plates out of the refrigerator and I will put a dollop of jam on the plate. The cold plate will quickly start to cool that jam.
And then I simply take my finger or the back of the wooden spoon that I'm using to stir. And I draw a line through the middle of that plate. If the line holds its shape and doesn't run, the jam is set. I usually use do this. Oh gosh, 4, 5, 6 times. As I'm testing my jam to find out when it's set, I start testing early because you can continue to cook, but you don't wanna overcook your jam because once it's overcooked, there's no going back and your jam will set up really hard.
The third test is a temperature test and a temperature test is probably the most reliable, however, that has some variables as. jam typically sets at 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Although there's a range there as well. I usually start about 218 degrees to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. The biggest variable here though, is it depends what your elevation is.
So that's at sea level and for every thousand feet above sea level, your jam will set at two degrees less than the 220. So I'm at about 2000 feet. So my jam will typically set between 216 degrees and 218 degrees Fahrenheit. I know that sounds a little bit tricky. I use it just as a ballpark range and I try to use a couple of different methods that I'm testing my jam.
Please know, though that even I've made, I don't know, countless batches of jam over and over. And I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on it. Sometimes jam just doesn't set the way you want it to. Sometimes it's too runny. And a few times it's too thick. I just had a reader comment on my Blackberry jam. It's made this exact same way as this raspberry jam is, and she's made it several times and is an experienced jam maker.
And she commented though, even though she felt like she had done everything exactly the same and everything exactly right. Her jam didn't set up and it was still a little bit runny after she canne it. My best advice then is chalk it up to a learning experience. Chalk it up to the jam has a mind of its own and use it as a syrup instead.
Pour it over your pancakes in the morning. And it's delicious that way as well. When you're making jam, try not to stress over it. It is what it is. You want to have a great jam in the end and most likely it's going to happen, but just think of the experience that you're learning here. As we go along, once your jam has set, you're either going to can your jam, or you can freeze it at this point, if you prefer not to can it.
If you're going to freeze jam, put your hot jam into the freezer, safe containers. Let that jam cool down and then put the lid on it and then put it in the freezer to use. You just simply take it out of the freezer and let it though. Freezer jam is usually good for at least a year, sometimes two years, depending on your freezer.
If you're going to can your jam, you want to have your water bath, canner, half full with water and you want that water at a simmering temperature.
You're going to put your jam into your jars and leave a quarter inch head space. Remove the air bubbles. Wipe down the rims and place the lid in the rings on the jars, then place your jars in the canning pot.
Make certain that your jars are covered by at least one inch of water over the top of the jars. If you don't have that one inch, you're going to add hot water back into that pot so that it covers at least one inch over the top of the jars. Put the lid on the canner, turn the heat to high and bring to a rapid.
Once you reach that rapid boil, you'll set your timer. If you're doing half pints and or pint size jars, you're going to process those for 15 minutes. Remember, you'll need to adjust for your altitude. When water bath canning, you're going be adding time for your elevation.
So again, I'm at about 2000 feet in elevation. So I'm going to increase this processing time by five minutes. I have a chart in my blog post that shows you exactly how much time you need to process your jams. Once you're processing, time is up. You're going to turn your heat off and let your jars remain in the hot water for five to 10 minutes, then remove those jars and set them on a rack.
Let them cool fully. This takes anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Once the time is up and they're fully cooled. You'll test to see if your seal has set. Do this simply by removing the ring. Touching the center of the lid. And if there's no up and down movement, your jar has sealed. I like to always wash off the outside of my jars just to remove any residue that may be on there.
And then I dry them, label them with the raspberry jam and the date, and I store them in my pantry, which is a cool dark environment.
Raspberry jam or any sort of jam is super rewarding to make and so delicious to eat. It's probably my favorite thing to add to toast in the mornings. I said at the beginning, I also like to give jams out as gifts at the holidays.
I hope you give this raspberry jam a try. The complete recipe is on my blog post, or you can find a direct link in the description of this podcast. If you make this raspberry jam, I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment and tell me how it turned out for you until next time, I'll see you in the pantry.
Thanks for listening and be sure to tune in again next week for more episodes of Preserving the Pantry.