Sweet Summer RaspberriesJuly 28th, 2010
We’re in the height of the British raspberry season now and ripe, juicy raspberries are in abundance; what joy! To celebrate the start of the season this year the lovely people at www.seasonalberries.co.uk sent me a huge basketful of the sweetest, plumpest raspberries; they were absolutely gorgeous. Even after sharing them with my colleagues in the office I found myself with mounds of them to take home, and when I pondered on Twitter what to do with them the resounding answer was ‘make jam!’.
Now I’ve never made jam before so this was a great opportunity to have a go. Excited by the thought of turning these luscious raspberries into jam, I went straight into the kitchen and opened the cupboards to pull out a pan, wooden spoon and sugar. Only to fall at the first hurdle; no jam jars. Not one – and no preserving jars either. It was now late evening and the shops were closed for the night so I sat there pondering for a while, feeling sad at the thought of the raspberries not being captured at their best, and then my saviour popped into my mind: Mum-in-law! Rob’s mother is a great home cook and loves to be baking in the kitchen; she was bound to have a jar or two. I raced over there and, sure enough, after some pottering in the shed she and my father in law pulled out a big bag of empty jam jars. Thank goodness for mums!
Back in my kitchen, having caught my breath, the next thing I had to do was to sterilise the jars. This is less complicated than it may sound; all you need to do is wash them in hot water with washing up liquid, dry them and then put them into the oven, preheated to 160°C/fan 140˚C for 10 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave the jars inside until the jam is ready to go into them.
Making the jam is also actually very easy; much easier than I thought. The way I did it was to measure out an equal amount of caster sugar and raspberries (I had 1kg), put the raspberries into a pan and heat them until the juices started to run, then add the sugar, stirring it until it dissolved, and finally boil the mixture together until it reached setting point. To test this, you put a small dollop of the mixture onto a plate, wait a few seconds for it to cool a little, and then push the mixture with your finger to see if it wrinkles. If it does, it’s ready. I read that this should take about 10 minutes but I had to keep going with it for a lot longer; it actually took about half hour or so. After many runny dollops on my plate, finally I got a wrinkle! Never thought I’d be excited by a wrinkle, but there you go.
Once the jam is ready you can fill your jars and, ideally, cover the jam with a disc of waxed paper (but I didn’t have any) and then seal the jar with the lid. With my kilo of raspberries I managed to fill 3 jars (with some left over); one for me, one for my Mum and one for Mum-in-law!
If you’ve never made jam before you really must give it a go; it gives you such a sense of achievement and giving away your home made gifts (however reluctantly!) will make you very proud indeed. And what a wonderful way to enjoy all that gorgeous fruit, captured in its prime, for longer.