You may have heard me wax poetic on the joys of a fresh raspberry. Before my husband texted me this week to let me know that raspberries were $1 a pack (6oz) at Kroger, I wouldn’t have imagined the sweet red berry of Summer and Fall into jam. They’re too precious, too rare here. You can just about always find them. But they’re rarely good or affordable. that magical day, I could have bought 4lbs of them for about $50.
So, when I received the fateful text, I wasted no time in responding, “Buy them all!” If my text had a voice, it would have sounded like the evil witch in the old Sleeping Beauty cartoon. Or like Ursula in the Little Mermaid. I was possessed, and I think I actually meant “Buuuuyy themmm allllllll!!!!!” But I didn’t type that. So, we ended up with nice little portion of 4 6oz boxes.
It’s not really a mistake on my husband’s part. Not taking me literally is generally a good tack for handling my outbursts. And I really didn’t care that much at the time. Then inspiration struck. Raspberry vanilla jam. While I’ve never actually tasted raspberry vanilla jam, all of a sudden, I knew that I would love it better than any other jam and would need 4lbs of raspberries to make a sustainable batch. That is, enough to save and enough to share. I returned to Kroger the next day to stock up.
You probably know the rest of this story. They were gone. Nary a raspberry in the store. I’m not kidding. I looked through the produce department 3 times. I’m sure that the produce stockists were starting to worry a little, “Did you see that woman who just keeps circling the berry display? She’s looking a little stretched, don’t you think?” I didn’t make a scene, but I was sorely disappointed. The stone fruit display buoyed me a bit, but my visions of jar after jar after jar filled with raspberry vanilla jam turned all loose and runny like a poorly set jelly.
Upon my deflated return home, I wasted no time in pulverizing the remaining 3 into jam (I’d already turned one of our 4 boxes into a snack.). A very simple raspberry jam – no vanilla, seemed like overkill for a pint of jam.
18oz of raspberries
2tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 3/4 cup sugar
First, I pressed the raspberries through a mesh basket to eliminate seeds.
This part was tougher than I expected. I can see why a food mill would come in handy if you are in the habit of making seedless jams. Then, I added a small handfull of seeds back in. I didn’t do this because I love the texture of the seeds, although raspberry seeds in general are small and soft enough not to be too much of a bother. I included them, because I reasoned that since raspberries are lower in natural pectin than some other fruits (that’s reasoned, not researched), they might pull pectin out of something like the seeds (you know, like in lemons), so maybe including a few seeds would keep me from having to cook the precious bit of jam down more than necessary.
Prepared the jars next. Not quite sure how much my small portion would fill, I prepped a 12oz jar, half pint, and a 4oz jar. Then, I added the berry juice & pulp to my Staub dutch oven/jam maker, and tossed in about a spoonful of seeds. I started with 1tbsp of lemon juice, adding the other after a cold saucer test tasting advised that it was a little on the sweet side. Once this fruit/juice mixture boiled for one minute, I added the sugar. Constantly stirring, the mixture bubbled up to about 2 times its size. I did 2 cold saucer tests to get it to the right consistency, and ladled the jam into hot jars. At the end of it, I ended up with a full half pint, full 4 oz, and a half full 12oz jar. Just a little over a pint of precious, jewel-toned, star-studded raspberry jam. Next time, I’ll use my Ursula voice.