Raspberry Madness

Pile of RaspberriesI have been blessed with four overgrown raspberry bushes. At the beginning of summer I wacked them down to an oval shape so that I could walk around them on a tiny path between the bushes and the garage and neighbor's yard. Then I reigned them in with string to the leggy canes would stand tall instead of sprawl sideways into my hard-earned path.

Despite my brutal treatment, they were still massive and happy. Slowly the canes began to form flowers and then the berries emerged from the tiny center of each flower. They began to ripen one by one and dangle tantalizing red scattered amongst the green leaves.

I could feel the onslaught coming.

For two solid weeks, I was out there daily picking and I would bring in a quart or more every night. I would throw some on my oatmeal in the morning and eat a handful as a snack every day. I even took some to a friend’s house and fed five people raspberries for dessert. Maybe if I had a family the berries would have disappeared more quickly, but with only one mouth to stuff full of ruby goodness, the bounty hung around.

A batch of raspberry jam and banana raspberry muffins knocked a dent in the pile of berries, but with all the berries frozen I am still taking up more than my share of freezer space. So, a batch of raspberry syrup helped me move the last bit berries from freezer to shelf.

 

Simple Raspberry Jam

I want to preserve as much as possible this season, but I want to do it as simply as possible. Pectin seems like an extra to me. If I can make jam without it, then I should. So, used this simple chart from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I doubled the recipe.

Ingredients:

8 cups washed, organic raspberries

8 cups organic sugar

 

Directions:

First, I slowly heated the raspberry and sugar mixture on medium heat.

Cooking Raspberries and Sugar

I watched it carefully and stirred regularly until the whole thing began to liquefy. I brought the mixture to a boil and cooked it for a good 15 minutes or so until the seeds began to float and the berry pieces were mostly dissolved.

Once I saw how many seeds there were, I strained about half out by scooping them up with a spoon off the top of the liquid. I did not have the heart to throw them so I collected them and eventually used them in my banana raspberry muffins.

To test the jelling, I put five large metal spoons in the freezer at the beginning of this process. I then used them instead of the plate to do the freezer test by removing the jam from the heat, waiting three minutes, and then I took the spoon out of the freezer to see the jam had gelled.

Once the jam mixture was done, I ladled it into six sterilized half pint jars and processed them in a hot water bath for five minutes.