After our wonderful stint of PYO madness at Olde Nourse Farm, we had an abundance of raspberries and currants, of which we intended to have an intensive jamming session with.
We froze some of the raspberries down, with the same method that we use for strawberries, by freezing them individually on baking sheets then putting them in bags, to keep them from freezing into a solid mass.
Then on Sunday afternoon we had our jamming session. We began with making good tried and true raspberry jam. I washed the raspberries, then put them in a big pot, added a little water and began to heat it up and mash the berries.
We had only a cup of sugar at home, and so we decided to make pretty sour and unsweetened raspberry jam, using only honey. The recipe was sort of winged- and this mostly comes down to: 1. making jam is easy and 2. I was a biologist and have a certain level of (foolish) confidence in matters of microbes and 3. we’ve done this before. A lot of people swear by following tried and true recipes. We sort of ‘eyeball it’. It thus far has worked fairly well for us. So our on the fly raspberry jam recipe:
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 10-15 cups of raspberries.
- 1 tbsp pectin (pomona’s pectin)
- 1 tbsp calcium water (pomona’s pectin)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice if you happen to have it- we didn’t)
- Put raspberries in a big pot, and mash.
- Boil down to concentrate the raspberry goodness (for about a half an hour).
- Add calcium water to raspberries.
- Separately add pectin to apple cider vinegar and some water.
- Mix well, beat it to get the pectin well dissolved.
- Then add the pectin to raspberry mix.
- Boil for a minute.
- Ladle into hot sterilized jars and screw on their sterilized lids. (We sterilize our jars in our dishwasher)
- Screw on lids tightly and put in a big pot with a grate on the bottom so the jars don’t touch the bottom of the pot directly.
- Fill pot with water until jars are covered.
- Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.
- Wait to stop boiling, pull out jars and set to cool somewhere they won’t be disturbed.
- Wait for the “ting!” to indicate they have sealed within a few hours. Otherwise… worry.
One reason why we don’t have to worry so much about spoilage with raspberries and currants is that they are very acidic, this inhibits bacterial and fungal growth. Also adding a ton of sugar will also accomplish this. Making non-acidic things… you really want to follow a tried and true recipe… and use a pressure cooker. In the end, this recipe makes about 12 8oz jars of raspberry jam.
Now currants… we didn’t freeze any due to our lack of ideas of how we would use frozen currants.. maybe tarts.. maybe complicated desserts…. but we decided jam was the perfect fit for our first year of currant goodness either way (you can use jam to make tarts….). So the first thing that we made was a jam version of Bar-le-Duc, which is a preserve of currants in which you have whole currants immersed in a currant jelly, a lovely sight! We just altered the traditional recipe by adding less sugar and adding pectin to the whole mix.
Bar-le-Duc: (makes about 6 8oz jars):
- 10 cups total of red currants (divided)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pectin and calcium water (pomona’s pectin)
- Wash currants.
- Combine 3 cups of currants with water.
- Boil and crush berries, then boil for about five minutes.
- Transfer cooked mixture to a dampened cheesecloth set over a strainer, over a collection bowl.
- Let the berry mix be strained until you get at least 1 cup worth of currant juice.
- Transfer juice to a pot.
- Add the remaining currants and sugar.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, to dissolve sugar.
- Boil hard for 5 minutes.
- Add calcium water to mixture.
- Mix the pectin with about a cup of water, mix well.
- Add the pectin to the boiling mixture.
- Then ladle into sterilized jars, and screw their sterilized lids on.
- Place in a canning pot and boil in a hot water bath for 10 minutes just as with the raspberry jam.
- Remove and let cool. Then admire the beautiful jars of currant jam.
The last thing we did is combine the rest of our currants and raspberry to make raspberry-currant jam. I pretty much followed a half recipe of the raspberry jam, with one difference. I removed the currant seeds.
I first boiled the currants, took them off the stove and processed them with a food mill, which effectively removed the seeds but retained the juice and pulp. This made a lovely pink concoction.
I then added the rest of the raspberries and mashed them, boiled the solution, added pectin and put it in jars.
After our long afternoon of jamming, we first took stock of our accomplishments: about 25 jars of jam!
We put labels on them and set them on our shelf for now (I think we should technically put them in the basement…. but for now they are trophies)
Then we treated ourselves to a jamming victory dessert of sweetened yogurt and a little bit of leftover jam of the raspberry, bar-le-duc and raspberry-currant jams.
I will say that the raspberry jam was good- the mellow sweetness of the berries was nicely complimented by honey and was not too sour by the lack of sugar. Also the raspberry-currant jam was really good, had a great currant kick after the initial raspberry sweetness. However, the bar-le-duc was just stellar, and I think the best of the three. It was the perfect level of tart, with an amazing texture, showcasing the really unique zingy currant flavor perfectly. Overall, we felt very accomplished after our day of garlic harvesting and jamming. We now just have to bide our time until we feel like it’s time to break open our jam…. we will try to hold off for a little while…. if we can help it.