In the fall, we love to pick raspberries. We lay them out on wax-papered cookie sheets in the freezer, and once they’re solid, we dump them into quart-sized Ziploc freezer bags. Throughout the year, we enjoy them in smoothies, on cereal, as popsicles, and just plain - but it always seems like, come spring, there is a hodgepodge of mixed berries left threatening to get freezer burned.
Spring is a great time to make jam. Start by cleaning out your freezer. Dump all the frozen berries and leftover rhubarb in the croc pot and cook it on high 3-5 hours until you have a berry soup. Then measure out your mixture to see how many cups of berries you are dealing with. You can transfer it into a pot on the stove cup-by-cup as you are measuring.
I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin. It is a great low-sugar option that actually sets up better than any traditional pectin I have ever tried, and it’s very economical. It’s a 100% pure citrus pectin, it’s vegan and gluten free, and it jells with very low amounts of sugar or honey (1/4 -1/2 cup compared to 5 cups!!!). One 1.1 oz. box makes up to 22 cups of jam, compared to traditional pectin, which is more like 5 oz. for 22 cups. If you want to try Pomona’s, you may find it at your local grocery store, or you can order a 3-pack for $15 or a 6-pack for $25 on Amazon Prime.
Below is a recipe for Basic Berry Jam. I like to make a large pot of this, and then separate it into smaller pots to add flavorings like chipotle, mint, vanilla, orange, or ingredients for conserve.
Basic Berry Jam
4 cups thawed rhubarb/berry mixture
2 t calcium water
2 t Pomona Pectin
¼- ½ cup honey or sugar (or more if you like it sweeter – but the fruit is pretty sweet already!)
First, remember to quickly check over the jars for any nicks, cracks, or sharp edges; check the screw bands for dents or rust. You only want to use the jars, lids, and screw bands that are in perfect condition so that an airtight seal can be obtained.
Next, prepare the jars by running them through the dishwasher. Keep the door shut as you work on the jam so that the jars stay warm. If you don’t have a dishwasher or don’t want to use it, sterilize them in hot water instead.
Now it’s time to jam! Bring the berry mixture to a boil. Add calcium water. If you are making a flavored jam (see below)– add the flavor now!!
Mix honey or sugar and Pomona Universal Pectin together in a bowl.
Add this mixture to the pot, and bring it back to a boil. Stir gently as the jam continues to boil for 1-2 minutes.
Then, turn the heat on low and use a ladle to spoon the jam into a measuring cup or other cup with a spout. Pour the jam from this spout into the warm jars. (If you have a fancy jar funnel, you can use that instead. I still don’t have one!). Use a rubber spatula to remove air bubbles, and then clean the rims with a damp cloth. Place the lids on the jars, and screw the bands on.
Now it is time to seal the jars. Fill a large pot with water (I use my pressure canner). Stack the jars on top of the jar rack. Bring the water to a boil. Please note that this takes awhile! Plan on at least an hour. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, start the timer for 10 minutes processing time. Once the jars are done processing, turn off the burner and wait for them to cool.
After you remove them from the water, wait 12-24 hours to check the seals, as the sealing process will continue even after you have turned off the burner. If after 12-24 hours you have a jar or two that have not sealed, you can eat those first, or you can reprocess them so that they do seal.
Jazz up your Jam!!
Try these fun flavors for a little something extra…
This delicious jam is great on a cracker with sharp cheese or cream cheese. It is also awesome on barbequed meat! To make it, simply take 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and crush them in the food processor. Add this to the above mixture before adding the sugar and pectin. Using honey instead of sugar in this recipe is absolutely scrumptious!
Raspberry Vanilla Mint or Raspberry Orange Mint
My friend Andrea recently gave me a bunch of fresh mint from her awesome aero garden, so of course, I put it in my jam! This sweet jam is also good with cheese and crackers, or on just about anything...
Crush or finely chop about 5 T of mint leaves and mix these into the jam before the sugar and pectin. You can add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla or ½-1 cup of 100% orange juice concentrate.
Conserve is like jam with little tasty treasures in it. Prepare the regular jam recipe, then add ½-1 cup orange juice concentrate, 1 T grated orange rind, ½-1 cup raisons, dried cranberries, or any other dried fruit and ½-1 cup chopped pecans or almonds. This time I also added ½ cup of chopped coconut and that was pretty yummy, too!