Happy Monday, folks, and welcome to Jam Week! I've been a busy bee in the kitchen lately, and as a result, I have a week's worth of posts for you all about jam. If you have no interest in jam, I apologize, but really, tis the season. I started slowly in July with blackberry jam and apricot butter, but, lately, well, things have taken off.
First, our refrigerator broke right after we moved in and right after I stocked up at the farmers' market. So, really, I had to make some jam before the delicate summer fruits molded over. Then, I friend at work wanted to learn to can, and while I definitely don't consider myself an expert, at least I've done it a few times and I'm not nearly as terrified as I was when I started. So we visited the farmers' market near closing time and got some terrific deals. I'm talking $10 flats of gorgeous organic raspberries. oh. my. word. Let's just say my jam supply is in good shape now.
I've also been doing lots of reading and thinking and blog stalking. It's been fun and educational. Last summer I made peach butter with half the sugar Ball recommends, and since then I've gotten more confident in reducing the amount of sugar listed in traditional recipes. I particularly recommend Northwest Edible Life and Food in Jars for canning ideas, tips, explanations, and inspiration. Observant readers will notice that this week's recipes call for less sugar and are a bit more interesting flavor combinations than jams I've made in the past.
For those of you looking for jam recipes with pectin, you won't find them here. I've actually never canned with pectin. The recipes I started learning with didn't use it, so I never picked up the habit. The good thing is a) I never run out of it and then have to dash to the store and b) I can play around with the sugar levels more since they are not dictated by the pectin. Without pectin, you're relying on the sugar, the fruit, and the evaporation to get a good, jammy consistency. My preferred method of testing for set is with a thermometer, and the temperature goal is 220 degrees F.
This particular jam was born out of the broken refrigerator, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!
Red & Black Raspberry Jam - vegan, gluten free, and free of just about everything else
adapted from me
Depending on how much you cook it down, you should get 3-4 half-pint (8 ounce) jars using the measurements below. It's definitely double-able. The ratio of blackberries to raspberries isn't important. You want 4 cups of berries, but any combination of them will do. You’ll notice that I don’t give a cooking time. That’s because cooking times can vary greatly depending on the width of your pot, the power of your stove, the amount of humidity in the air and even how much rain fell in the days before your fruit was picked. Stay close to the stove as you cook your jam and watch closely for changes. Here is a great article specifically about jam setting. Besides putting it on toast, jam makes a great cake filling.
3 C raspberries
1 C blackberries
2-3 C sugar
1/4 C lemon juice
In a large pot, gently mash berries and sugar together. Let stand for 1 hour or so; I like to use this time to prepare my jars, lids & tools, get my giant pot of water heating up, clean up and clear off my (very limited) counter space, etc.
Bring the berries+sugar to a boil over medium-high heat; stir in lemon juice. Boil rapidly, stirring often until the jam begins to thicken. With a clean spoon, scoop out a bit of jam, allow to cool, and taste. Add more sugar if necessary. If you taste it again, be sure to only use a clean spoon. You can test for set if you'd like, or aim for a temperature of 220F.
Skim off the foam if necessary, ladle jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4-inch (6mm) head space. Wipe the rims clean and apply lids. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars, and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel. Listen for the "ping!" of success. When jars are cool enough to touch, check seals. Jam is ready to eat as soon as it is cooled but can also be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year.