We are lucky enough to have a very large raspberry patch that acts as a hedge at the back of our garden. It’s a little over 100′ long. Having this patch makes me feel extra lucky because raspberries are my all-time #1 favorite fruit. But, it doesn’t come without its challenges. I pine for the raspberry season throughout the winter, yet when the season rolls around, I find myself exclaiming “for the LOVE of raspberries!” Every year.
Like clockwork, the raspberry picking season starts on the 4th of July. It starts off slowly, but then I can’t seem to pick the berries fast enough. And while picking them can be a challenge (bugs, heat, etc.), the more maddening struggle with fresh-picked raspberries is that they don’t keep very long. Because raspberries are full of water, it only takes a day or two before they start to get moldy sitting in the refrigerator.
I’m certainly not opposed to eating cereal-bowl-size portions of fresh raspberries with a little whipped cream on top, but when we’re bringing in 2 pounds of raspberries a day, it’s time to talk about preserving the raspberry harvest.
Preserving the Raspberry Harvest
Last year, when the raspberries were coming in hot, I made a few pies and froze the rest of the berries so I could throw them into my oatmeal every morning. Raspberries freeze very well, and freezing is probably the quickest way to preserve them. The best way to freeze them is to wash them, lay them out on a towel to dry off a little, then scatter them on a cookie sheet to freeze the berries individually before storing them in airtight containers in the freezer.
Freezing raspberries is easy and effective, but there ARE other ways! If you have a dehydrator (or an oven), you can make fruit leather or simply dehydrate the berries and either keep them whole to rehydrate later or make them into a delicious raspberry powder that can be used as a flavoring or for decorating a dessert.
Making raspberry powder is fun and interesting, and I love having a little bit of raspberry powder on hand to jazz things up, but it’s not the fastest way to preserve several pounds of raspberries.
To preserve the big bounty of raspberries this year, I turned to making raspberry jam. Here’s the recipe I developed with a little bit of inspiration from a recipe I recently found at Of Batter And Dough for strawberry-rhubarb jam.
Making Homemade Raspberry Jam
The recipe I use for making homemade raspberry jam is very easy, and it has a few unexpected ingredients that make it extra tasty. It does contain added sugar, but not as much as some of the traditional recipes that call for cups and cups of sugar, in some cases, equal parts sugar to fruit, which makes the jam super sweet.
With this raspberry jam recipe, the raspberries remain the star of the show. Here’s what you need and how to make approximately 22 ounces of this delicious raspberry jam.
- 8 cups of raspberries
- 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (T) of lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon (t) of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (t) of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (t) of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon (t) of almond extract
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- In a large stockpot, combine the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon and bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat. Stir frequently at the beginning of the process and stir almost constantly as the mixture begins to thicken.
The time it takes for the jam to reach the right consistency and set point (220 degrees F) depends on many factors, including humidity and altitude. We are currently experiencing high humidity, and this amount of jam took me about 40 minutes to boil down.
- Test to see if the jam will set properly by placing a plate in the freezer before you start to cook the jam. Once the jam starts to thicken, test it by placing a small amount on the frozen plate. Let it cool briefly. The water content and fruit mixture should stay together. It doesn’t need to look like jam just yet, but it shouldn’t separate or run fast if you tip the plate.
Alternatively, you can use the sheet test, which is a similar test method. Freeze a metal spoon. When the mixture thickens, test it by dipping the spoon into the jam. It’s ready when it falls off the spoon in one sheet (as opposed to dripping).
And if you want to be 100% sure your jam will set properly, you can use a candy thermometer to see that it reaches 220 degrees F.
- Once you know the jam will set right, remove it from the heat and let it cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the vanilla and almond extracts.
- Spoon the finished jam into clean mason jars or your favorite glass containers. Let the jam cool, then keep it in the refrigerator if you are going to use the jam right away (within 3 weeks). If you want to store this jam for later use, you can freeze it right in the mason jars.
While water bath processing is typically a safe way to preserve jams and jellies made with fruit that’s very acidic, this jam recipe has not been tested for safe water bath canning.
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