This is the first summer that I’ve spent any large amounts of time at home, and I’m absolutely loving it! Now that it’s really getting into the summer season, our yard is bustin’ out all over, with all kinds of unusual aromas and foliage, here, there, and everywhere. The best of the shrubbery is up in our “back 40,” where a large open grassy area is rimmed with berry bushes.
As soon as they’re ripe, we’re going to be swimming in red raspberries. In the meantime, we’ve started to harvest the black ones. There was some question as to whether we had black raspberries or blackberries, but the internet is a wonderful thing, and I’ve just confirmed that they are, indeed, raspberries. It’s funny, though–the red raspberries in their forming stages, right now, are covered with fuzzy coverings, whereas the black raspberries formed right out in the open, starting pale green, then gradually reddening, and now darkening to purple-black.
My daughter (whom I have to thank for all this time at home) and I have been out every day since Tuesday, this week, when the first of the berries hit the black phase. The first day, we got just enough berries to cover the bottom of a sour cream container, but this morning, we got a little more than 1 cup, with gave us just enough to make black raspberry jam. Life really is good!
The recipe for the jam is one that I found in a box of Pectin. I had picked up a box because I kept coming across recipes that called for unflavored gelatin, and we never had any. When I grabbed this box, there were no recipes on deck, waiting for it, and I pulled the paper out to see what recipes they recommended. Talk about a great find! There’s a whole chart of jams and jellies that can be made without understanding the canning process or requiring the oppression of the kitchen heat for cooking everything for hours on end. In fact, the only heating required lasts for about 2 minutes, on the stove, and there’s no canning required!
While the baby napped, this afternoon, I got the whole process started. Sadly, I didn’t realize, when I got the Pectin, that there are low-sugar and no-sugar recipe alternatives, which require a different kind of Pectin. So, this batch is full-sugar…more sugar than fruit, actually. I’m curious to see how it turns out, since this is the first time ’round, for any kind of fruit spread. The recipe is in probably every box of Pectin, but I was astounded by how simple it is….
Black Raspberry Jam (from the Pectin recipe chart)–3 pints of black raspberries
- 3 cups crushed raspberries (They recommend crushing one cup at a time, with a potato masher, so some of the fruit bits stay bits, as opposed to puree)
- 5 1/4 cups sugar (I ran out, at 4 1/2 cups, but I was a little shy on the fruit, too, so I’m risking it….)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 box Pectin
One thing they strongly emphasized was measuring the ingredients exactly, which I managed to blow by making the jam today, when I probably should have waited for tomorrow’s harvest, to top it off. But, anyway, the instructions start with cleaning plastic containers (1-2 cups each) and go through crushing the berries, as specified above and measuring the sugar into a separate bowl. Mix the sugar, thoroughly, into the berries and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, stirring periodically. When the 10 minutes is just about done, mix the water and the Pectin in a small saucepan and bring to a boil at high hat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minutes, still stirring constantly (Note to self and anybody who gives this a shot: Use a long-handled spoon–the mixture pops pretty high while it’s boiling). After 1 minute, remove from the heat and stir into the berry/sugar mixture. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. The instructions said it would be about 3 minutes, but it took a bit longer for me. At this point, you’re ready to pour the jam into the containers, leaving half an inch at the top of each container, to allow for expansion. Cover the containers and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. When the jam is set, transfer the containers to the fridge, for up to 3 weeks, or to the freezer, for up to 1 year. If you freeze the jam, thaw in the refrigerator.
Believe it or not, that’s all there is to it, at least, according to the recipe. I’m up to the “let sit at room temperature for 24 hours” point, so I don’t know how well it works, at this point. Of course, if it doesn’t work, it could be because I didn’t measure exactly….