I love homemade gifts. Love is written all over these gifts. Over the years, I have given my children’s teachers home grown dried herbs and jams for the holidays. My favorite gift is jam. All my jams come from my apple and peach trees or my raspberry and blackberry bushes. But my all time favorite jam is my raspberry jam. Not to be too boastful, it is pretty darn good and so darn easy to make. Let me show you how to make raspberry jam–the low sugar, no pectin type.
The key in my opinion to my delectable jam is fresh raspberries and a secret ingredient. I harvest the raspberries and throw them into the freezer immediately. I just don’t have time to make the jam during the summer. There is way to much to do in the summer and fall with the herb garden for me to make the jam.
Jam takes time.
You can’t hurry it or you will burn the jam.
Most of you don’t have a small farm so you could have time to make it during the summer. Just get the freshest raspberries that you can. If you don’t have time, store them in a container in the freezer until you do have time.
Let’s start the recipe.
(I assure you will be licking your lips by the end of this tutorial.)
Some Beginning Notes:
- If you are using frozen raspberries and you defrost them, use a pan under the bag. It will leak precious juice.
- Make sure you have all of your ingredient ready to go since making jam can move fast.
- Don’t be overzealous. Don’t overfill your pot with fruit. Only use 6 cups of fruit juice or fruit. Believe me, I have pushed the jam process with 8 cups of jam, but I don’t advise it. The jam doesn’t come out as good. (Will you keep reminding me of this fact?)
- Most people don’t like seedy raspberry jam. I hear this time and time again. I started using a juicer to remove most of the seeds. It kills me. I lose at least half of my product. You can use 1:3 or 1:2 ratio of raspberries and seeds and raspberry juice. I just don’t bother and make raspberry crackers out of the seeds. (Recipe to follow in next post.) If you don’t care about seedy raspberry jam, go for it. Just realize if you are giving it as a gift, most people don’t like it.
- Before you start canning, skip over to my 12 canning tips I wish someone would have told me. You will thank me later.
How to Make Raspberry Jam
8-12 cups of Raspberries
lemon zest of 1/2 of a lemon
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
2 cups of organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon of agar (You can buy it HERE or at any Asian grocery store. It is so much more expensive in the health food stores.)
Water canner or large stock pot with a rack. See Notes below. (See HERE for a water canner with utensil listed below.)
Magic Wand (It has a magnetic end so that you can remove the lids from the hot water. It is a life saver in my opinion.)
Wooden spoon to stir the jam
Bubble Remover/Level checker
(You can buy a set HERE.)
- If you want to use a large stock pot, you need to buy a canning rack like this one. Or make your own. See HERE for a DIY rack. I never used it but it sounds interesting. You need a rack so water circulates under the jars. I use my pressure canner which comes with a rack. I have heard mixed reviews of metal canning racks. Check the Amazon reviews before buying one. Some say they fall apart or are wobbly when working with pints. Getting burned by hot water is not fun.
- If you are using your own stock pot, make sure you have at least four inches above your jar before the water boils over the top. You need one to two inches of water above the jar and room for the water to boil. I use my 23 quart pressure canner as a water bather since I usually can about 12 cups of jam juice at a time which amounts to about 12 pints. Some people don’t need to use such a big pot since they only make a few jam jars.
- When I was at the Mother Earth News conference, I attended a canning workshop. The speaker showed us an aluminium steam bather. If I made a lot of jam, I would buy this canner. No more burnt fingers and no need to keep a pot boiling. Check it out if you are looking for an alternative to stock pot water bathing.
- Before we start, you might be wondering why I use agar instead of pectin:
- First, pectin contains dextrose, which could be derived from corn or less commonly from wheat or rice. The dextrose may be derived from genetically modified corn.
- Secondly, dextrose is sugar. I am totally confused as to how low sugar pectin contains dextrose as its first ingredient. How can that be low sugar?
- Thirdly, you use a lot of pectin when making jam. (This recipe uses 8 tablespoon of pectin for 6 cups of raspberries. ) On the other hand, you use very little when using agar. I use powdered agar that I purchase at an Asian grocery store since it is cheaper. You can buy agar flakes HERE or at any health food store. (You can also make your own pectin with granny smith apples but it may change the taste of the jam. )
1. Pre-heat your jars. Add enough water so that there is about 2 inches of water above your jars. You only need one inch for when the jars are boiled in the canner; however, some of the water may boil away during the heating process. If you wait to add the water right around the canning process, it will add time to the process.
2. I put my jar and lids in a small pot with water. I turn it on when I start the jam. Don’t boil your lids! Just let them get warm. If you boil your lids, then you might ruin the seals.
4. De-seed your raspberries. You can either put small batches in a strainer and push it through the strainer. The seeded jam will remain in the strainer. It takes some time so make sure you allot the time.
You can do the de-seeding the day before you make jam if you like. I use a juicer. If you want to get as much jam as possible, then you may want to put the seedy part back through the juice at least two times. My juicer is a cheap one and I had to put the material back through the juice twice. I picked up a couple more cups of juice!
The seedy mixture should be on the drier side when you have extracted enough juice. Word of advice–don’t keep feeding your berries into the extractor. Watch the evacuation tube. It will overflow and what a mess! (Been there and done it.)
5. I always wonder if you could de-seed and then add the sugar to the de-seeded (or less seedy) jam and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for at least a couple of hours. In the “biz” they call this maceration. I don’t because I don’t have any berries after I juiced them. I do macerate my peaches when making peach jam.
6. Pour no more than 6 cups of raspberry juice into a stainless steel tall pot. (The jam may foam which will rise above your shorter pots.)
7. Add agar. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Then stir it in. Alternatively, you take some juice and add the agar to it. Wisk it and then add it to the liquid. (Read HERE about Agar.) Make sure the agar doesn’t lump in your jam.
8. Add the sugar.
10. Add the lemon zest. (Oh, do I love the lemon zest.)
11. Bring to a boil for 3 to 5 minutes. This allows the agar to start working. It will not gel until the jam starts to cool. Don’t be tempted to add more agar unless you want rock hard jam. (Done this.)
13. While the mixture is gelling (couldn’t resist the pun) turn on the burner to heat up your lids and seals. Don’t boil the lids!!
15. I test at the jam at this point to see if it gels. It is the finger test. You simply pour some jam on a cold plate and run your finger down the middle. If the gel stays put and doesn’t move back together, you are ready to pour the jam in the jars.
17. Ladle the hot jam into your heated jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Use your funnel. You want every bit of jam goodness to make it into the jar. ( Also, use the blue tool you see above to be accurate.)
18. Make sure there isn’t any bubbles. I use a knife to break apart the bubbles.
19. Wipe the rims. You don’t jam on the rims which will impede the lids from sealing.
21. Lower the bottle into the hot water using your tongs. Be careful. I have burned my fingers more than once.
22. When you have all the jars in the water, then turn up the heat. I put a lid on my water bather at this point to get the canner to heat up. Once the water starts to boil, start the timer for 10 minutes.
23. Turn off the heat after 10 minutes, and let the jars rest for 5 minutes. Lay down a towel or trivets. Then remove the cans with jar tongs. There may be water on top of the jars. Leave it alone. It will evaporate. You will hear a ping as the jars seal.
24. Leave the jars overnight. Check to see if the jars sealed. Simply touch the top and see if it springs back. If they spring back, then either re-can with a new lid or put in the refrigerator.
Note, using less sugar reduces how long the jam will last in the refrigerator once opened. Normally, I only use 8 ounce ball jars instead of 16 ounce jars so I will eat it quicker.
Add a label, twine, and/or a pretty fabric.
Join the Conversation
How do you make raspberry jam?