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.
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.