Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Jam Plan: Part II

    Raspberries are in season, and since my all time favourite jam is Old Fashioned Raspberry Jam, I figured I might as well make a batch.
    Almost every recipe I have found for Raspberry Jam called for equal parts of sugar to berries. This ratio is overwhelmingly sweet for my taste, so I always cut way back on the sugar. Most canning recipes will warn against deviating from their directions, and I usually don't, but I haven't had any negative results so far. The end result won't have as thick of a consistency, so I usually have to use an envelop of commercial pectin to aid with the thickening. I feel this is a small price to pay to have a batch of jam I can actually eat.
     Below I have posted the original recipe, and have mentioned my changes. This way you have the option to change what you like, and not what you don't.

Old Fashioned Raspberry Jam:

Old Fashioned Raspberry Jam with a slice of
Mom's Homemade White Bread

6 cups of raspberries
6 cups of white sugar (I used only 2 1/2 cups sugar, and 1 envelope of commercial pectin.)

(1) Wash with soapy water 8 (500ml) jars (you may not need all of them), 8 rings, and 8 unused lids. Place the jars in a large pot with water and bring to a boil to sterilize. Place the rings and lids in a separate and smaller pot.
(2) Place sugar in an ovenproof shallow pan and warm in a 250°F (120°C) oven for 15 minutes. (Warm sugar dissolves better.) (I didn't bother with this step.)
(3) Place berries in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
(4) Add warm sugar (and if you decide to use pectin, add that here as well), return to a boil, and boil until the mixture forms a gel (see tips, below), about 5 minutes. (When cutting down on the sugar these results will vary. I have never achieved a full gel with my jams because I don't use nearly enough sugar to do so. Adding pectin helps the jam jell, but also dilutes the natural flavor of the fruit.)

(5) Using a sterilized funnel, pour the jam into hot sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5 mm) head space. (If necessary, wipe rims.)
(6) Cover with hot lids; screw on bands fingertip tight.
(7) Place back into the large pot and bring to a rapid boil. Process in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check for seal, ensuring that lids curve downward. (If not, refrigerate and use within 3 weeks.) Store in cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.

*    If you don't have a canning rack, create your own. Tie several screw bands together with string or use a small round cake rack in the bottom of a large covered Dutch oven. Be sure the pan is high enough for 2 inches (5 cm) of water to cover the jars when they are sitting on the rack.

Sterilizing the jars
Kitchen Tip:

• To determine when the mixture will form a gel, use the spoon test: Dip a cool metal spoon into the hot fruit. Immediately lift it out and away from the steam and turn it horizontally. At the beginning of the cooking process, the liquid will drip off in light, syrupy drops. Try again a minute or two later — the drops will be heavier. The jam is done when the drops are very thick and two run together before falling off the spoon.

If you like this recipe, you may also like:
Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam

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