Simple Red Raspberry Jam

It’s impossible to hold on to a sour mood when you have three pounds of beautiful raspberries in a farm box on your lap. I tried, but it didn’t work. After a frustrating day on Wednesday, I was dragging when Stewart called to ask whether I wanted to meet him at our local farmer’s market. I hemmed, hawed, and finally decided a warm evening in the park with some fresh produce and a great guy made a lot more sense than continuing to whine.

I’m glad I put on my big girl britches because, at the market, we found the season’s last local, organic raspberries. (I love that it’s the first of October and we’ve still got good raspberries here.) I negotiated a nice deal on enough berries to make a batch of jam while Stewart kept asking, “Do you want more?” He knew perfectly well that my mood would lift in proportion to their weight.

Fresh raspberries and a goldfish pond? Just try to stay cranky. I dare you.

This is the simplest jam ever — nothing but equal parts fruit and sugar — and it’s one of the best I’ve ever made. For the basic techniques, I tip my hat to Rachel Saunders and her brand new Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, which is going to be a game changer for folks who make jam at home. After this jam went into jars, Stewart stood over the pan scraping up the last bits and eating them right off my wooden stirring spoon. That’s when I know it’s really, really good.

Simple Red Raspberry Jam

3 pounds red raspberries
3 pounds sugar (about 7 1/3 cups)

If you want fewer seeds. There’s an easy way to remove some of the seeds from your jam if you like. I removed the seeds from about half of this mixture before I jarred it. If you think you might want a jam with fewer seeds or none at all, review Step 4 and have a metal sieve or strainer standing by before you start.

1. Sterilize your jars and put 5 teaspoons on a plate in the freezer to test your jam for doneness later.

2. Combine the sugar and fruit in your jam pan on medium-low heat. Mash and stir until the fruit and sugar are well mixed and the sugar dissolves.

3. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue to cook, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes. As you cook the jam, use a large, stainless-steel spoon to skim the stiff white foam off the top of the mixture. I started testing my jam for doneness at 12 minutes; the jam was finished at 15. Keep in mind that lots of factors may affect your cooking time, however. Watch your mixture and test as needed.

To test your jam for doneness: Remove the pan from the heat. Use one of your frozen spoons to scoop up a little bit of jam — not a whole spoonful, more like half. Return the spoon to the freezer and wait 3 minutes. Retrieve the spoon and hold it vertically. If the mixture doesn’t run, it’s done. (Ideally, it will look like it wants to run, but can’t. In other words, it shouldn’t be stiff.) Alternatively, give the mixture a little push with your finger. If it clearly creases or wrinkles up, it’s done. If your jam isn’t ready yet, cook it for 2-3 more minutes and test it again.

4. When the jam is done, remove it from the heat and take care of any final skimming. If you want fewer seeds in your jam, suspend a stainless-steel or chinois sieve over a bowl or pot, and quickly press a portion of the jam through the strainer, extracting as much fruit as you can. Stir the seedless jam back into the mixture.

5. Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process 10 minutes in a water bath canner.

Makes 4-6 half-pint jars, depending on how many seeds you remove.

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  • Reply Julia October 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Looks beautiful! And look at that beautiful pan! I always feel better when I get more fruit. But then I suddenly have too much fruit…

  • Reply Dee Dee October 1, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    This looks so good that I'm going to go to the kitchen & get a spoonful of your Strawberry Basil Jam.

  • Reply kaela October 1, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    There's that gorgeous copper pan! I am jealous, even though I would never be able to use it.

    I'm curious: method-wise, what do you find different about the Blue Chair cookbook?

  • Reply tigress October 1, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    ok you've convinced me about the book. i need it, right? and what is going on with that bread also? it looks divine. raspberry jam is one of my absolute favorites – lucky you!

  • Reply Jane October 2, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I haven't senen raspberries here in a long time. Beautiful jam. The book is fabulouis isn't it.

  • Reply Denise | Chez Danisse October 2, 2010 at 3:04 am

    I've always loved raspberry jam and I don't think I've ever made it myself. A pity… This is a simple recipe, but you walk us through it all as such a pro, and you have a beautiful copper pan. You must be expecting my next question. So, when does YOUR book show up on Amazon?

  • Reply Shae | Hitchhiking to Heaven October 2, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Jules: I have to admit, some fruit makes me happier than other fruit. Like, I didn't really mean to bring home another twenty pounds of apples today. I would be much more excited if they were raspberries.

    Dee Dee: I'm glad you have a suitable replacement. I'll make more of this next year!

    Kaela: I like your question, because it made me think through how I feel about it. I've only dipped my toe into the book, but I have also taken a class with Rachel and sampled a number of her jams. She's an expert at combining flavors and she really understands how different types of fruit behave in the pan; there's so much inspiration in this book. (I think that would be true even for a top-notch flavor combiner like you.) Also, I have a feeling that it will help folks who are scared to make jam without pectin try out traditional methods. (That's one thing I love that she has going on here: traditional techniques, modern flavors.) She does a good job explaining the phases of cooking. Finally, the book is so gorgeous I just want to eat it up. It's going to be unwieldy in the kitchen because it's so big (and it's not very well bound), but I know I will sit down with it for long stretches at a time.

    Tigress: Yes, indeed, girl . . . knowing your jamming proclivities and how you feel about Mes Confitures, I know that you must have this book. The bread? Lemon corn bread from our natural grocery store. I can't get into baking. It would be way too dangerous.

    Jane: Thank you! I am so happy with how pretty this jam is. And yes, I know we will both be enjoying and discussing this book for some time to come.

    Denise: Oh, you must make your own raspberry jam. I know that it would delight you. My book? Well, soon I will have a little eBook of my recipes from the county fair available for purchase (at a bargain price, I assure you) right here. That's a start, right?

  • Reply Cyn October 5, 2010 at 3:42 am

    It looks so pretty, but not too pretty to eat! Organic raspberries have been tough to find here. We did plant our own raspberry bush this year and if it does well, we'll definitely plant more. No matter how I get the fruit, I am definitely going to use this recipe.

  • Reply Sandigee October 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I have the book, tomorrow I will have the copper pan (it's on its way), Saturday morning I will have the raspberries — and from you came the inspiration for this first Mauviel project. Just saw a clip of Rachel from the Martha Stewart show — she is cute as a bug! Love your site — it's great.

  • Reply Shae | Hitchhiking to Heaven October 7, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Cyn: I have made three batches of this jam in a week, and I find it to be lovely and forgiving. Good luck with your raspberries. I'm going to plant some myself, when early spring rolls around.

    Sandigee: I think you have picked a wonderful way to initiate your new pan. (The Mauviel is particularly gorgeous and so highly recommended because of its very heavy bottom.) This super simple jam keeps impressing me with how easy and luscious it is. Isn't Rachel absolutely adorable?

  • Reply Jene October 21, 2010 at 5:24 am

    there is no need to put water on it? just mix the sugar and the raspberries together and then cook over the fire? (i'm so sorry if the question sounds stupid. i've resolved to take up making jams as a hobby when i stumbled on your wonderful website 10 minutes ago. and where i come from, jams are a foreign thing and is therefore not part of the culture. but there are lots of tropical fruits around.)

  • Reply Shae @ H2H October 21, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Jene: This definitely isn't a dumb question! You don't need to add any water. Just use raspberries and sugar. If you've never done this before, when you first put them together in the pot you might think, "Oh, this will never work!" But you will be amazed at how much juice the raspberries release after you mash and stir them into the sugar for a couple of minutes. For the best flavor, do find the sweetest, juiciest raspberries you can. If they're organic, just pick them over to remove any leaves or other bits; don't even rinse them. If they aren't organic, give them just a quick rinse. Have fun!

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