My jar of raspberry jam
Ever read a slick blog where the photos have a casual, but charmingly messy feel to them? I was hoping to be that blogger, with gentle, homey photos like the one below, crumbs askew, some chic disarray on view.
Cannelle et Vanille blog photo
Instead, alas, I look more like a slob. So sorry. Sloppiness aside, my raspberry jam is slick! And it couldn't be any simpler. It is just raspberries and sugar mashed together and cooked over medium then low heat until thick and jammy. I do add a wee pinch of kosher salt to brighten the whole experience and that's it, folks. My formula is simple: equal parts mashed fruit to sugar. Cook. Cool. Eat or freeze. I don't even bother with the canning routine. Bought an extra freezer and in go all my jams, perfectly preserved for those dark winter mornings when toast and jam and hot coffee are the recipe for comfort.
Here is the way I make jam, albeit, messily. Take a few cups of fresh raspberries and place them in a heavy bottomed pot. Add a little pinch of kosher salt. Mash them with a potato masher. Measure the mash. Add equal amounts of sugar. Cook mixture, stirring gently, over medium heat and adjust temperature as needed to maintain a slow simmer. Boil until thick and jammy, stirring more as the mixture thickens so as to avoid scorching. You can use a candy thermometer to gage the exact moment of doneness at 220 F or drop a glop on an ice cube and see if it holds together in a jam-like fashion. I did neither, just used my eyes to decide that the right time had come, a thick sludge of ruby toned sweetness sitting in my pot. I lifted the spoon and the jam looked dense and heavy, falling off the spoon in large, slow blobs. All this is to say that you can measure with instruments and use temperature as a guide, but nothing replaces sensory input, where you look, feel and use some intuition as well in knowing when your jam has set.
You may be wondering about pectin and why I don't use it. I don't like it. It is bitter, so you need more sugar in your jam, diluting the intensity of the fruit. Raspbery jam always seems to set beautifully without it, so why use it when you don't need it? I love the pure simplicity of jam made with just fruit and sugar.
Once your fruity mass has become what you intend it be, ladle it carefully into clean jars and either process them for canning, freeze them or store them in the fridge for a few weeks. You will be happy with the pure jolt of fruity denseness each mouthful yields, a concentrated hit of raspberry essence much superior to commercial products. Use your jam liberally on warm whole wheat toast, on buttery scones, overtop vanilla bean ice cream, baked up into delicate rugelach cookies, or, my personal favourite, in Jammers, a special cookie project I will deconstruct for you on this blog very soon. Wait for it.
Get busy making jam while fresh fruit is upon us.