Berry Jammin'

August 7, 2013:

Kitchen Experience--a plethora of just-picked early raspberries and luscious large blackberries right off the vines begged to be preserved. Inspired by Kevin West's cookbook, Saving the Season, Linda and I experimented with small batch preserves that we could "put up" in a couple of hours in the late afternoon without using pectin or confining ourselves to the kitchen for hours on end. For our first batch, we nervously tested for the gel point with spoon drips to sheets, candy thermometers (220 degrees), and quick freezer reviews. We quickly became more confident as we progressed batch-to-batch (though we decided it could be used for syrup and on yogurt if it didn't gel firm enough for jam). We trusted the jam had jelled sufficiently and enthusiastically proceeded.

Batch 1:  Raspberry Preserves (half crushed berries, half whole). A two-step process net 5-1/2 pint (8 oz) jam jars. Mix 2 lbs. Raspberries (picked over for any stems, leaves, bugs!) with 1 T lemon juice, and 2 c sugar. Crush half the mixture (if you can't find a handy potato masher, nature provides!), leave half whole. Bring crushed mixture to full boiling point, stir constantly as it rolls. Cook at medium high, stirring for 6-8 minutes till gel point reached. Add whole berries and bring back to gel point (another 6-8 minutes). Pour into sterilized jars and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Listen for the lids popping!

Batch 2:  Raspberry Jam (all crushed berries). We quickly decided that the extra step of adding whole berries was not necessary. Most of the whole berries melted down and it took twice as long. This batch, all crushed, same proportions of ingredients (except for a little more sugar--approx 1/4c more) produced 6-1/2 1/2 pints (8 oz) jam jars. All-crushed-berries jam was definitely more "home" economical.  

Batch 3: Blackberry and Raspberry Jam. Time was short. We pulled out a larger pan and doubled up the "small batch" to use up the balance of berries we had left at a fast clip...2 1/2 lb Raspberries and 2 1/2 lb Blackberries, 4 c sugar, 4 T lemon juice. We're finished our preserving in a little over 2 hours. Net 12-1/2 pints (8 oz. jam jars)---plus one short for refrigerator jam....

Tasting Notes: Batch 1 gelled softly, a bit extreme on the sweetness, tart, deeply flavored raspberries.   Batch 2 gelled even a bit softer texture, sweeter if possible and brighter tasting. Batch 3 "We tried the raspberry/blackberry this morning -- very juicy and wonderful – not jammed thickly -- a real fruity sweet spread". --- Linda and Blase  

Perfect for yogurt or pancakes! 

Next Batch Exploration Try making own pectin from the early green apples and lemons for further preserving so that we can use less sugar and shorten cooking time when preserving. 

Fruit jams, spreads and syrups available for sale at the Farmstand. Berry On --- Lynn