Pretty Dishes

Homemade Raspberry Jam
July 26, 2010, 12:21 am
Filed under: Recipes

If someone asked you to name a meal you associate with your childhood, I bet you could come up with one almost immediately, right? A connection to one’s upbringing through a particular food seems to be one of those universal human experiences. There is that comfort not only in what reminds us of home or a beloved relative, but also in revisiting our past via that eating experience.

One of the things that I will forever associate with growing up (and specifically, my mom) is homemade raspberry jam. Raspberries in general make me think of her because of our shared love for the luscious berry, but while there weren’t always fresh berries to be had in our house, there was always, always—for as far back as I can remember—my mom’s jam.

We had a well-established, sprawling raspberry bush at my childhood home and every summer we would pick bowls and bowls of the juicy, sun-kissed jewels. (There is little in the food realm I find as perfect as a large warm raspberry freshly plucked off the vine. It is also epitomizes summer for me.) Every year my mom would make at least one batch of freezer jam with those raspberries and would often supplement our bush’s yield with a trip to a you-pick farm. We would eat any leftover berries out of hand, on cereal, or topped with what she called Devonshire cream but is actually a fantastic whipping cream/sour cream/brown sugar concoction.

Because my mom’s jam was always on hand, my parents never purchased jellies or preserves from the store, aside from the occasional variety for guests if the mood struck. Occasionally when at a friend’s house I would be offered a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich featuring a random store-bought jam, but it never held a candle to what I had at home. I loved my mom’s jam and nothing could replace it in my mind as the pinnacle of perfection. Once I moved out on my own I didn’t have such ready access to the jam, only occasionally snagging a jar from the freezer when I visited, and then my mom didn’t make new batches quite so often. Anytime I purchased jam it had to live up to these lofty standards of what precisely it was supposed to taste like to me. I finally found a brand that I really liked last year (O Organics Raspberry Preserves), but it still didn’t beat the old standard, plus at $4 for a jar I could go through in about two weeks, it wasn’t exactly economical. So a few weeks ago I proposed that my mom show me how to make her famous jam. Raspberries were just coming into season and the timing was perfect. (I have no clue why I didn’t ask her to show me some summer past.)

Isn’t it funny how a recipe/process that seemed so unapproachable from your perspective as a child turns out to be so simple you never really needed to be taught how to do it at all? Little did I know that my mom’s mysteriously perfect raspberry jam was just a three-ingredient recipe straight from the pectin box. There were no secret ingredients, no unusual techniques. What made the jam so special? Part of it was surely the ripe homegrown berries (after all, they make or break the flavor), but the other part is that subconscious, lingering childhood happiness accompanying every taste.

Even though it turns out the jam wasn’t complicated, I was thrilled to be right beside my mom as we made it together. Now my freezer is brimming with enough delicious raspberry jam to enjoy for the year to come. Jam just as perfect as I remembered it.

Quick and Easy Raspberry Freezer Jam

Makes 6 cups jam

3 pints red raspberries
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
One 1.75-ounce box Sure-Jell fruit pectin
1 cup water

Wash and rinse jars or containers and tight-fitting lids. Half-pint or pint jars work best.

Pick through the raspberries for debris. Crush the berries 1 cup at a time in a large bowl with a potato masher. Sieve 1/2 cup of the pulp to remove some seeds, if desired. [Note: My mom doesn’t do this, so the jam does have quite a lot of seeds in it.]

Measure exactly 4 cups crushed berries into a separate large bowl.

Place the sugar in a large saucepan. Stir in the pectin until thoroughly mixed.

Stir in the water and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.

Quickly pour the crushed berries into the sugar-pectin mixture and stir for 1 minute, until thoroughly mixed.

Pour the jam into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace for expansion during freezing. Loosely screw on lids or cover. Let the jars stand at room temperature for 24 hours until the jam has set. Tightly cover. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or store in the freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw in the refrigerator.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Gorgeous colors! Looks delicious, too!

Comment by Christi

Raspberry Jam forever! :-) Love you My Baby!

Comment by Momma

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