Jam it in a Jar and call it Jam!
Last week we picked a varied half-peck of apples and a quart of raspberries at the Norwegian-inspired Eplegaarden orchard in Fitchburg. We enjoyed the perfect crisp fall day and relished in the joy of plucking fruit straight from the countless rows of branches. What I love most about the DIY mentality is the ability it has to translate across every aspect of life, including food! The DIY approach to edible consumption might include growing your own food or collecting produce from local farm markets and then figuring out a way to preserve and share what you’ve accumulated.
I made an apple cake with a caramel glaze for our fall camping excursion, but I didn’t know how to give my raspberries a purpose. Fresh raspberries are great on a goat cheese salad, but I was looking to extend the life of my handpicked fruit a bit longer. Then it dawned on me: Preserves!
I never dabbled in the fascinating sport of canning and preserving, so I took my first crack at making a jam last week was thrilled by the simplicity of the process. After researching various websites, I combined a few different suggestions and came up with a process that took less than an hour.
I hate to say it this early, but canning goodies from your plentiful fall harvest would make superb holiday gifts if you’re the giving type. Use raffia, ribbon, or a string with a recipe card attached to give your jam jar a little flare. Post your favorite canning recipes in the comments section! I’m going to try this fabulous apple butter recipe next.
Use a spoon to smash the raspberries into gooey submission.
Pour berries into a saucepan and add the sugar and lemon juice. Cook on high heat for five minutes, stirring frequently, and then reduce to medium heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring less frequently. Be sure not to burn or overcook — this is how you end up with hard jam.
While the berries are cooking, fill your cast iron pot (this was all I had — a larger pot would be better) with about an inch of water and add the jars and lids that you will be using for canning. Bring to a rolling boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, covered.
When the berries are finished, there should be a layer of foam on the top. Skim the layer into a bowl and save for later.
Remove the jars from the pot and place on a towel. Use a funnel and pour the boiling berry mixture into the jars. Make sure the tops of the jars are clean and then place the metal lid on top and seal with the metal screw band.
Now comes the weird preserving part. I didn’t have a large enough pot for this, so I used my cast iron pot again. I put my two sealed jars in the pot and poured water in to cover the tops of the jars — the water should be an inch or two above the top lids. Boil the submerged jars in water for 10 minutes and then take out and let cool.
“Jam it in a jar and call it jam!” I have to credit my boyfriend for this line — it’s really fun to sing in a dramatic voice paired with jazz hands. I’m just saying.