Incidental Farm Girl

2 Ingredient Raspberry Jam in 10 Minutes

DawnRaspberry heaven

When I was younger I remember enjoying the rare occasion when I would get to slather my toast with either blackberry or raspberry jam. Those accompaniments to biscuits seemed downright exotic to me as a child. We never lived in the country then so my wisps of country knowledge came from visits to down home cooking restaurants. As I hit my teen years and would go to the local Cracker Barrel with my parents I always salivated over the candy-colored jars lining the shelves and filled with preserves and jams to caress my biscuits with. Fast forward to my adult years and we purchased a small farm, one of the first things I wanted to grow was berries, and LOTS of them.

The first year was scant for raspberries but plentiful for blackberries, the second year was the opposite; this year, I have hit the berry lottery. I am in a race however, not only with the birds and critters who also want my berries, but also with the grubby, chubby little fingers that race to the patch ahead of me to devour like locusts and come to Mommy with purple and red stained hands and cheeks.

On the occasion when I can beat all the other entities to the patch, I love to recreate that delectable jam. I often don't have pectin on hand, and it can get pricey, especially if you are putting up loads of berries like I hope to be doing a bit later in the season. I discovered a solution though, and the pectin is not even missed. It is so simple really I ponder why all jam is not made this way.I have canned with this recipe, frozen jam with this recipe, and also made the occasional refrigerator jar. All the techniques work very well.

On to my secret ... simply gather 3 cups of berries. Raspberries are bubbling up all around her so that is my berry of choice but blackberries work just as well. (NOTE: This recipe does not work well with strawberries). Once your raspberries are cleaned and rinsed this will take only 10 minutes, seriously, 10 minutes. It takes longer to pick the berries than to make this jam. Pull out your saucepan and toss in the berries, then use either a fork or pastry cutter to smash away and squish those little baubles.

Crushing the berries

Once you have a finely smashed saucepan of berry remnants simply add your sugar. For 3 cups of berries use 1-1/2 cups sugar. Stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes to completely dissolve the sugar and then bring to a bubbling boil over medium-high heat. It is VERY important to stir constantly during this step or you will burn the sugar and your precious hard-won berries. Stirring constantly, boil for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for refrigerator or freezer jam, or pour into hot waiting mason jars if you intend to can.

NOTE: Depending on the water content of your berries you may want to cool a small amount and make sure that it is jelled to your desired consistency, if not, no worries, you simply add a bit more sugar (start with 1/4 cup) and return to a boil.

At our house it is a rare day when this jam makes it to the canning stage, I usually have to hide some berries away to pull that off as we can devour an entire jelly jar in one sitting with our family of 7. This recipe has worked every time for me and even a few jars of blackberry jam that I canned from 2 years back still have the perfect consistency.

2 Ingredient Raspberry Jam

Recipe:

3 cups of berries (raspberry or blackberry)
1-1/2 cup sugar

Method: crush berries, add sugar and stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and boil for 3-4 minutes. Cool and place in jelly jar in your refrigerator.

Now go on and grab a slice of homemade bread toasted with butter and draped in raspberry deliciousness!

Like what you read? Stop by my blog for more recipes, gardening tips, observations and anecdotes from a homeschooling, homesteading mother to 5 blessings. Incidental Farmgirl Blog

The Dual Purpose Herb You Should Be Growing

DawnIt's a fresh herb, a salad inclusion, a meat accompaniment, a drink garnish and a salsa requirement. But wait, a few months later and it becomes not only the start to new life to repurpose the entire cycle again but also a second culinary delight that brings to mind exotic dishes from faraway lands. What is this magical plant that I am referring to? Coriandrum sativum, better known to most as cilantro or coriander.

Cilantro ... mmmm. I am aware that this is one of those herbs that creates a strong reaction in people, they love it or they hate it, not too many in between. My love for it probably came from the time I spent living in Mexico and drowning in fabulous cuisine peppered with this culinary delight. Regardless, you should be growing this herb because the little-known fact of the matter is, it is the only one I am aware of that is a dual purpose herb.

Cilantro leaves

What do I mean by "dual-purpose"? This herb is one that is a 2 in 1 delight. When the plant first emerges and begins its journey into true leaf existence it is called cilantro. Pungent and flavorful it is a member of the parsley family but is called different things depending on the point in the life cycle you harvest it. It becomes coriander later in the cycle, another well-known culinary delight. In addition cooks in Thailand favor the roots of the coriander plant for use in making some of the finest curries.

It is originally native to the Mediterranean; you will also find it in Thai and Chinese cuisine as well as Hispanic and Indian dishes. Interestingly enough, this herb is so well known that it is even mentioned in the Bible. Ancient Romans used the herb to preserve meat and it can also be steeped as a tea. Cilantro is said to have stomach soothing properties that when consumed in large quantities, offers a significant source of Vitamins A and C.

Okay, so back to the dual purpose idea, when the plant is new and relatively low to the ground (6-8 inches in height) it is the delicious cilantro. However, what happens is that it will "bolt" in the heat of the summer. This means that it goes to flower as the plant prepares to change to its seed form, a self-propagating wonder. Once the stalks rise well above 12-18 inches the plant leaves change to a more carrot top looking spindly type and they begin to flower.

Cilantro beginning to bolt

From this point on the cilantro begins to take on a very bitter taste and is not, at least in my book, edible any longer. The plant will continue to dry out and the little flower buds will change to hard, round, brown seeds. This is coriander, a spice used in cooking as well, either whole or ground. The beauty of it all is that you can either harvest the coriander for your culinary use or save it for planting again next year.

Coriander

NOTE: Wherever you plant this herb it is likely to perform like a perennial, meaning because it self seeds it will come back year after year. Even the most diligent gardener is usually unable to harvest EVERY seed that drops to the ground so you again have the dual purpose advantage of a re-seeding plant as well as a second herb to use, coriander.

Want to learn more about natural living, herbs, gardening and the like? Stop on by and say hello on my blog Incidental Farmgirl. I look forward to a visit real soon!

- Incidental Farmgirl