This morning, I went to check on my plants in the backyard and had to dart back to the kitchen to get a container for these deliciously fresh and pesticide free raspberries, which just seem to have appeared on the canes overnight. The only way I ever tasted raspberries when I was a kid in Mexico, was as a flavouring (probably artificial) in candy, and Jell-o™. Mexico has been increasing its production of raspberries for over a decade now, but still mostly for the international market, including the US, Canada, Japan, Brazil, and several European countries. The harvest season in Mexico is during the cooler months, from October through April, when the weather is not too hot for the canes to bloom and produce berries, the exact opposite to Canadian conditions; I usually get a big crop at the end of June and in July, and then a bowl-full every other day, until mid-October. As a testament to this background, when I tasted a fresh raspberry for the first time, I thought “mmmh, just like the candy.” Growing and eating my own has taken the experience to another level, so now I prefer raspberries fresh in the summer, and continue enjoying them until the next spring in my homemade mermelada de frambuesa (raspberry jam). I am including a recipe for a small batch, which may be kept in jars with lid in the fridge for a couple of months, but I also freeze rinsed and pre-measured raspberries during the season, and in the fall, when the temperature goes down, I use this same recipe to make larger batches, and process the jars in a hot water bath to preserve for up to one year.
Raspberry Jam – Mermelada de Frambuesa
1 ½ lb (650 g) fresh raspberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
Rinse fresh fruit very gently, drain and spread on paper towels*. Place berries in a pot with lemon juice and water. Cook for 3 minutes on high heat, until fruit has softened and juices start to run. Add sugar and continue cooking, stirring with a wooden spoon, to dissolve the sugar, and avoid burning it. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until jelly point of 220°F (104.5°C) is reached, or when jam forms a film on a chilled metal spoon, approximately 10 minutes. Pour hot jam into glass jars with lid; let cool completely, then keep in the fridge, unopened, for up to 2 months; consume open jars within two weeks. Makes about 2 cups of jam.
* Once dry, raspberries may be stored in freezer bags in the freezer for up to six months; label bags with date and weight when fresh. When ready to make the jam, the frozen berries may be placed in the pot, and cook as directed, following fresh-weight measurements; this will require a few minutes of extra cooking time before adding the sugar.
This is a recent photo of last fall’s raspberry jam on bannock (skillet scones):
Which makes me look forward to cooking fresh batches of raspberry jam and low-fat bisquets as soon as the hot weather subsides …