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.
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.
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!
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