Raspberry jam has become a tradition in my house. Every year we take a family vacation to Bear Lake with Brian's family and I buy two or three flats of raspberries while we're there. Sometimes we are there too early or too late - I admit to making a few special trips to get the raspberries. Very special since it takes over three hours to get there. This year I came home with three flats and I got some serious help from my friend, Kristi, yesterday to make 31 bottles of beautiful jam. I use the recipe in the package of pectin, so no big secrets there. I do have a few hints, though...
1. One "flat" of raspberries makes between 10 and 12 half-pint bottles of jam, usually with a few berries left over.
2. Do not wash the raspberries. The water gets trapped inside the berry and makes your jam runny. I go through each berry and check for stems and bugs, but no washing.
3. Raspberries (and blackberries) are seedy little suckers, so I like to strain at least half of the 6 cups of berries. This year I found a jelly bag that worked really well, but cheesecloth works great, too. Get your grip muscles ready - it's a lot of work.
4. I use MCP pectin. It's in the SureJell (sp?) family, but I've found it to set up the best out of all the pectins I've tried. It could have something to do with MCP calling for more sugar than the rest of them. Whatever.
5. Speaking of sugar, I use C & H cane sugar instead of beet sugar. I don't understand how or why, but cane sugar is supposed to be better for your body? All those raving psychos at the state fair say it's the best, too. (I can call them that because I'm a State Fair Champion.)
I think that's all I do that isn't in the directions. Obviously I like to get the best raspberries and make the jam as soon as I possibly can. This year the raspberries were picked on Tuesday morning and they were jam by Wednesday morning. Ta da! Nothing is more satisfying than having 31 bottles of beautiful jam sitting on the counter after a long day of making it. Give it a try! Maybe you can be a State Fair Champion this year, too!