As long as we can remember canning food as been a part of the summer. Every female on both sides of our family has canned something at some point and of course the older the generation the more integrated it was into their everyday lives. At our home we always had canned tomatoes, several types of pickles and relish, green beans and carrots, apple sauce, pickled peaches and of course jam and jelly. If you ask Emily what her favorite canned food was she would say pickled peaches, in fact I can remember many times as young children that she did not like what we were having for dinner so she would just have pickled peaches. My favorite on the other hand was raspberry jam… with seeds. I can still remember the first time I noticed that they sold jelly at the grocery store, I was 8, I guess I assumed that everyone made their own. I actually bought jam from the store for the first time in college and the price for the good stuff… with seeds, is astoundingly expensive.
So this year I decided I would make some myself but then I realized how expensive raspberries are in Texas, I guess it’s not a plant that does well here. I called my mom to ask her how much she pays for raspberries and she told me that at the u-pick place we always go they are $3.50 a quart, ya that’s right a quart. That’s when I decided that in the middle of moving Emily from Boston to Texas we would make a pit stop in Michigan to make my jam. Sure I missed my family and was excited to spend time with them but what I kept thinking about was my jam. So on a Friday at the end of August we all spent a few hours picking raspberries and then headed to our moms house to make jam.
Making jam in itself is not that complicated or expensive but you do need the right equipment and preferably someone who knows what they are doing. The jars can get expensive if you just walk into the store and buy them so it might be worth your time to check out garage sales or second hand stores to see if they have what you are looking for. In our family you just call around to the grandma’s and ask for some. You can try making it yourself and it will most likely turn out just fine as long as you go into it with no fear or some extra sets of hands. Jam and jelly making is one of those kitchen endeavors that require a certain amount of timing and rhythm. I think everyone had their own technique for the timing, so here is our moms raspberry jam recipe and instructions.
Step 1: Sanitize the jars by running them through the dishwasher without any other dishes on a disinfecting cycle. If you don’t have a dishwasher or the time to wait, you can boil water in a kettle and pour over the jars while in the sink making sure to go all the way around the tops of each jar. The lids and rings will also need sanitized, the rings can go in the dishwasher but the lids are best just having boiling water poured over them because you don’t want the seal to melt.
Step 2: Fill the canner half full of water and bring to a boil on another burner to have ready for the jars.
Step 3: mash 3 quarts of washed raspberries; make sure to measure correctly as it can change the texture of the finished product.
Step 4: Pour mashed berries into a large pot with 1 packet of Sure jell brand pectin stirring to incorporate and bring to a rolling boil with the burner set to high, stirring the entire time.
Step 5: Stir 3 ½ cups of sugar into boiling berry mixture and return to a boil; once boiling count to exactly one minute while continuing to stir. If you prefer you can use a kitchen timer but we always used the ever so precise method of counting out loud, making sure to space out the numbers by saying “one thousand after each number i.e. one, one thousand, two, one thousand… all the way to 20, one thousand and then just say the number i.e. 21 because saying the second number removes the need for saying one thousand. It sounds complicated but after 27 years I can now do it without messing up.
Step 6: Let the cooked berries sit for a moment with the heat turned off to let the foam rise to the top. Then skim the foam off and discard. This is however edible so if you have any lurkers in your kitchen asking for food, feel free to smear some on bread and make a sandwich out of it, foam sandwiches are my dad’s favorite part of canning jam.
Step 7: Ladle jam into sanitized jars, filling almost to the top and then whip the rims off with a warm damp cloth. Place a sanitized lid and then ring on top, and fully tighten.
Step 8: Once all jars are filled place on an elevated rack in the canner, making sure the boiling water comes up the sides at least 2 inches. Cover and gently boil for 10 minutes, then remove the jars and set on a towel to cool over night.
Step 9:Don’t be alarmed when you hear popping noises as that means the jar has set. Make sure to unscrew the lid and check the seal on each jar before placing them in your pantry. If it doesn’t seal the jam is still good but needs to be put in your fridge and eaten first. Technically the jam is good for one year but we have been known to come across jam at my mom’s house that is older than a decade and we still ate it.
Much Love, Aislinn and Emily