Monday, July 12, 2010

Organic, All-Natural, Raspberry Jam

In honor of my Grandpa and love for his delicious raspberry jam that he made every summer I can remember, I made my first batch this weekend. My Grandpa's jam was definitely the best ever. Super sweet and fruity and absolutely incredible on an english muffin (with butter). My favorite way to eat it. I recall him liking it on shredded wheat with cream cheese or something very odd, and very old person-ish. I wanted to do things a little different though. Even though he for many years picked his own raspberries, I can't say for sure they were organic (i.e. not sprayed with pesticides). Although, they may have been because every time he dragged took me berry picking it seemed way out in the middle of no where and seemed like a family owned farm. Who can say though. Also, I'm not really sure why he took me other than for the company because I had about 5 minutes of actual berry picking in me. The rest of the time was spent half under the raspberry vines trying to avoid the hot July/August sun and probably saying "Grandpa, are you done yet? It's so hot. Let's go home." And "I want some jam already." Being difficult and lazy at any rate. I've never done too well in the sun.

So, like I was saying, I wanted to do things differently. I wanted this jam to be organic. Use naturally-derived pectin. And use organic cane sugar and less of it. I ended up using Pomona's Universal Pectin (from citrus peel) at my mom's suggestion and the recipe for freezer jam that came with it. This pectin is nice for those of you who either like less sugar or are trying to restrain yourselves and eat less of it (I currently am). I probably eat my body weight in sugar weekly. This pectin is activated by calcium and not sugar so you can use as little as you like. I ended up doubling the sugar anyways because I find cane sugar to be much less sweeter and I figure if I want this to taste anything like my grandpa's it's got to have more than 2 cups of sugar per batch. His probably had that amount in a single pint. The recipe is quite easy and the jam turned out well. Not as good as my grandpa's and not nearly as sweet, but still, sweet enough. I'm not sure if it jelled as much as his even though I added a good deal of pectin/calcium. That remains to be seen though since it's been refrigerating for awhile now.

Collin and I hand picked the raspberries from an organic farm in Monroe. Probably half of them were ripe but the other half could have used more time on the vine. Since the summer has been so late here in the northwest I think people picked all the berries too early and any hopes of getting ripe ones later when they are ready probably is a lost cause. If I make it again, which I'm planning on doing since I only picked enough to make 5 pints, I may end up buying them or picking at another farm. I also really want to make blackberry jam too. My other favorite.

So here's to you Grandpa. My jam isn't as good as yours but I have a feeling you would like it anyway.

Also, Family, this is going to be your Christmas present so I hope you like it!

Photos and Berry Picking Assistance by Collin Monda


  1. Hey Al!

    We must both be getting nostalgic for Grandpa's jam because i made 10 jars of it this weekend! I used a very very simple method and it came out great. Just mix berries, sugar and lemon juice in a pot, simmer until it is 215 degrees for about 10-15 minutes and ladle into hot jars. That is it. No pectin, nuthin. No processing. I like it!
    I added star anise to one batch just for something crazy, we'll see.
    OK, I'll give cherry or apricot to the fams for my gift then! I am on a jam making tear this summer i tell ya!

  2. That sounds great Aut! What a great idea! I love that there is only three things in it. My recipe said the lemon is optional. Do you think it matters? What does it do other than brighten the raspberry flavor?

    Ha the fam is going to be all jammed out.

  3. I don't know exactly but the ""Mes Confitures" book i have been using suggests using lemon in most of the preparations, saying that the acidity both brightens the flavor and helps the jam to set properly. It can add a nice flavor to certain jams too, such as the apricot.