Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Raspberries and jam

It's raspberry time!

Not our raspberries, unfortunately. But we have an elderly neighbor who has one of the greenest thumbs I've ever seen. She has a massive raspberry patch (probably 20x30 feet) and there are far too many berries for her to use herself. She generously invites many folks in the neighborhood to come help themselves.

So last week the girls and I went and picked berries. Oh my, they were beautiful.

In about half an hour, we picked nearly two gallons.

Next step was to pick them over.

I ended up with the white bowl full to the brim with clean beautiful berries. But then I got busy, so I covered the bowl and put it in the fridge for a couple days while we worked.

Then came some free time to make jam. I pulled the bowl out and found... it was mostly empty. Hey, what happened to the berries? Sure, the kids had unlimited access to them, but they couldn't have eaten that many! Come to find out it wasn't just my girls, it was six other neighborhood kids who'd been invited to raid the bowl as well, the greedy things. Ah well, it's better than gorging on candy or something unhealthy.

So I turned the remaining berries into jam. There's a 3:2 ratio of berries:sugar.

The berries will froth up...

...and then start gelling. Takes an hour or two to reach this point.

But out of that original two gallons of berries, I only got one quart of jam. Harrumph.

Okay, back to the berry patch on Monday.

This time we picked a little longer and came away with nearly three gallons.

This time I wasn't taking any chances! I cleaned them right away...

...and got right down to the task of making jam.

This was a messy sticky job, and during the course of the project I dirtied just about every dish in the kitchen. Don sometimes marvels at my ability to make such a mess. What can I say? I'm talented in that department.

The pot was too full so I ended up having to divide the batch in two, but after a great deal of splatter and stickiness (man, jam is sticky!) it was ready to ladle into jars.

Before processing the jam, however, I wanted to clean the stovetop. Gadzooks, what a mess.

It took scouring powder, a green scratch pad, and finally a pumice stone to get the cooked-on jam off.

Out of this batch, I got four quarts and one pint of jam. I used my beloved Tattler lids, of course. Into the water bath they went.

But it wasn't until I got the mess in the kitchen under control -- including cleaning and mopping the sticky spatters on the floor...

...was I able to admire my handiwork.

This jam will be wonderful during a cold winter day when I use them in survival cookies. Yum!


  1. Glad to see there are others out there who make as big a mess as I do when I do canning or cooking or I can make the biggest mess with the simplest recipes. I once dirtied 4 pans to make a one dish casserole. The jam looks awesome! And your post reminds me to order some Tattler lids soon.

  2. So, are these made without pectin then? We're off to get blackberries tomorrow - I like to make cases of the 1/2 pint jars since family & friends often put JAM on their Christmas wish list.

  3. I'm canning peach jam today. I wish I could do raspberry jam, but there aren't any pick-your-own sites near me. What a blessing to have a neighbor who has an abundance to share!
    Andrea S

  4. Great example of the amount of work involved in making your own jam. I don't have much patience for picking berries, small fruits, or nuts. It takes forever to fill a bowl and once it is prepared for use, I find even less in there. To bad I can't make jam from watermelon or something! Your jam looks great, nice work!

  5. Patrice, you certainly have some generous neighbors. Will you be offering your small jar of jam to the neighbhor whose raspberries you picked, or does she make her own jam?

    Anonymous Patriot

  6. LOL, AP -- she has jam coming out her ears. So I offered her some fresh frozen ground beef from when we butchered our bull... and there was an small awkward silence until I remembered she raises beef cattle and has ground beef coming out her ears too... however I'm canning up some apple pie filling today and will offer her a few quarts as a thank-you. Unless I find out she cans her own, of course...

    Darn these self-sufficient neighbors!

    - Patrice

  7. Then my next question is: will she allow you to dig up a couple of her raspberry vines so you can transplant them to your garden?

    I've been reading your blog for about 18 months and I have seen you struggle with the farming aspect, so maybe a headstart would be helpful. LOL


  8. Those pictures of the raspberries on the vines took me back to my childhood in Maine. There were places in town that were wooded and overrun with berry brambles. There were raspberries and blackberries and even wild strawberries. We neighborhood kids would go out with buckets and bring back loads of them and eat them and make juice. Man did we make a mess.

  9. I'm a beginning canner. Last month I tried to make strawberry jam twice, and both times it came out watery, didn't get at all. I did use pectin.

    So what I'm reading is that it has to cook for at least an hour? I did not see that in my Ball directions...I'm off to research his some more as I'm determined to figure out how to make jam.

  10. I'm curious about what kind of scouring powder you use. I fairly recently started using this product and it's GREAT. It occurs to me, though, that you could even make it yourself if one was that crafty.