Have you found yourself with a bit of a raspberry glut at the moment? I know I certainly have, I recently talked about freezing them on Facebook, but another great way to preserve your soft fruit is to turn them into jam.
Here I will show you how I make my raspberry jams and have a couple of recipes, first a traditional full-sugar one and then a much-reduced-sugar one.
- Jam Jars (sterilised)
- Jam Sugar
- Lemon Juice
- Sauce Pan – Preserve Pan preferred but not required.
- Potato Masher
- Homegrown Raspberries!
Making jams from soft fruit is relatively straightforward once you know what you are doing, and raspberry jam is no exception.
All you need is a large saucepan (the heavier the bottom, the better), Jam sugar, a sterilised jar, your fruit, and some lemon juice or a lemon itself.
Rather than give you exact amounts of each ingredient to use, I will give you a ratio. As well all know, anything you grow yourself doesn’t come pre-measured!
Before starting with the jam mix, pop a small plate in your freezer to chill, we will use this later to see whether our jam is ready or not.
You want to weigh your fruit and match this with the amount of sugar, so if you have 500g of raspberries, you want 500g of jam sugar. (jam sugar has added pectin, which helps your mixture to set)
When making raspberry jam, there is one additional prep step you can take if you want to lower the number of seeds in your final jam.
This is to split your raspberry in half and put half into your pan, no need to heat it up just yet.
Now smash the life out of the berries, I like to use a potato masher for this.
Then once this mixture has been thoroughly liquified you want to strain it through a sieve.
You will want to push it through with a spoon, or else it will just sit there!
Once you are done, you should be left with a load of seeds, I add this to my food waste bin to be composted.
Now you can add the other half of your berries to the strained mix and smash them all up together.
Doing this just takes out half of the seeds to prevent our jam from being overly seedy.
Now add your sugar, along with a squeeze of lemon juice to your mixture and bring the mix to a boil.
The lemon juice isn’t there for flavour, the acidity in it helps activate the pectin and helps the mixture to set – so it is more important than you think.
Once your jam is boiling, you want to keep it in this state for 5 minutes.
Make sure you are stirring regularly – particularly around the edges of the pan as the mix can stick here and burn.
As it gets ready to take off the heat, you will notice the colour of your jam darken, and it will also begin to thicken visibly.
You can now take a teaspoon and take a tiny amount of the mixture out of the pan.
Pop that teaspoon of jam onto the plate we popped in the freezer earlier.
This is just to rapidly cool the jam and see how well it sets.
Push your finger through the jam after it has been on the plate for 10-20 seconds.
Has it turned to a jam-like consistency? Does it wrinkle a little?
If so, then your jam is ready; you can turn the heat off and allow it to start cooling a little in the pan.
If not, then boil it for another two minutes and test again.
Once it has cooled for a few minutes, you can add it to your sterilised jar.
I got both the jars and jam sugar from Sainsbury’s if any of you are wondering where you can buy the materials. They are also readily available online.
This will last now for months if your jar was properly sterilised and it is unopened.
Once opened, you need to use it in a few weeks and be careful of using dirty spoons to get the jam out, this will encourage the growth of mould.
Now onto the reduced sugar method. For most adults, this will actually produce a more favourable taste than the full sugar recipe, which can be overly sweet.
The downsides are that you won’t make as much jam with your fruit, it won’t store as long, and it takes a little longer to make.
But the plus side is that it takes 75% less sugar than the method above, making a much healthier jam, packed full of natural flavour.
So for this recipe, many of the steps will be the same as above, so I won’t repeat myself but rather just mention the differences.
For starters, you want to use a 4:1 ratio of fruit to jam sugar. So if you have 1 kilogram of raspberries, use 250g of sugar.
Another step I take is to finely slice up the skin of one orange and add this to my mix. This is because orange skin contains a lot of natural pectin, which will help our jam to set. And as we are adding much less sugar, we need all the help we can get.
You want to cut this up into small pieces as we want it to be noticeable in the final jam, unlike a marmalade where you would add big pieces.
Bring your mix to the boil again, but now you will be keeping it here for much longer. More like 10-15 minutes rather than the 5 our full sugar recipe took.
You will notice the mixture going darker and darker, we need to keep stirring and turn the heat down little by little so we keep it just boiling but no more.
It is very easy to burn your jam here so you need to be really active with your stirring.
Again you will notice it thicken and darken. With this being low sugar it will be harder to get it to set, so we need to cook it and reduce the mixture for longer – which leads to smaller yields overall.
You want to keep cooking and stirring until it goes thick, like in the image above.
You want a visible path to be left behind when you move your spoon through it.
At this stage, you can do the plate test again, and if it feels like a jam, then take it off the heat. Allow it to cool for a little while before pouring into your jar.
You don’t want it to solidify in the pan so don’t leave it in there too long, just a few minutes so it isn’t too hot to pour into your jar.
My low-sugar jam above and as you can see the yield was much lower but the flavour for me is much better, and it is healthier too.
This is much more of an adult jam while my daughter loves the first recipe!