Monday, July 20, 2015

Seedless Wild Black Raspberry Jam

My beloved KitchenAid mixer stopped working :( Sadness. So what does one do when mourning the (temporary) loss of a faithful friend? One makes jam. Delicious, foraged jam. To eat while ordering replacement parts.

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Our house is situated on what used to be a little doglegged dead end street. But some years ago, let’s say 10, before we took up residence, a new development sprung up next door and connected our quiet 11 house community-to-be to a larger conglomerate of carefully manicured, brick-sided McMansions on streets with prestigious sounding names. They are lovely homes, set on lovely lots, and at least some have lovely people living in them (all the people I’ve met, anyway). This association has some very well maintained trails around and through, and we do our best to act like we pay the association fees for them (though we don’t)… and that includes regularly biking around to our favorite spots to pick wild black raspberries. I like to imagine that if any of the real residents, noticing my scrubby clothing and stained fingers, ever asked me what I was doing that I’d simply look confused like I don’t speak English. Or, on the Martha Stewart end of the spectrum, that I’d confidently reply, “Making the most mouth-watering jam from these berries that no one else cares about. What amazing thing are you doing today?” If it actually happened, I’d probably just try to hide in the thorny bushes and wait them out. Yeah, I’m smooth. So far I’ve managed to simply say hello to passers-by and no one has inquired further. Yet.

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Anyway… These berries are delicious, though mostly consisting of seeds that will inevitably get stuck in your teeth. They are richly colored (= healthy!) and readily stain nearly everything they come into contact with. Like most things, my love affair with foraging is due in part to the amazing people I know who infect me with their hobbies. My mother-in-law used to make the best wild black raspberry jam, so of course I want to try too. And one of my very best friends admitted to wearing nail polish only to cover up her black raspberry stained nails. I love that about her :) ((She also links to a pectin-free wild black raspberry jam recipe if that’s your thing, and a bunch of other great recipes for these berries.))

Seedless black raspberry jam has been my goal since we moved in, but I wasn’t ready to do it until I had this blank window of time in which stand mixing was on hold and berries were ripe. It was meant to be. This was my first successful jam that used commercial pectin, and I am as pleased as punch with the final texture. It set, but not too hard. Intense flavor. Not too much volume lost in steam. Quick. All good qualities in a jam.

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So, without further dithering, here is how I made the jam (I made two batches, each in this proportion):

Seedless Wild Black Raspberry Jam

Makes 5-6 12 oz jars

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) of fully ripe black raspberries
  • water
  • 4-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl, divided
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 box SURE-JELL For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Premium Fruit Pectin
  • 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine

Directions

Combine berries and a cup of water over low heat and stir, until juices are released.  Strain and reserve juices, pressing pulp through a fine mesh sieve to separate seeds. Discard seeds and add enough water to increase volume to 7 cups. Add lemon juice.

Mix sugar and pectin, then add to juice in a large saucepan. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. Add the butter (this tiny amount keeps the foam down). Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly to prevent the bottom from scorching. When boil cannot be brought down with stirring, boil for one more minute. Remove from heat.

Jar jam in hot, sterilized jars. Wipe rims, apply sterilized lids and bands, and process in a boiling water canner for 10-15 minutes.

I love this jam on toasted homemade English muffins (recipe here). For a really decadent treat, smear the toasted English muffin generously with cream cheese, then jam, and top with a sprinkle of feta (and I recommend chopped walnuts too,  if you have them). It’s crazy good.

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