Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Smooth and Sweet Black Raspberry Jam (Updated with Better Photos!)

It's black raspberry season, my favorite harvest of the year. 


 A few years ago when we were visiting a friend in Ohio, she served the smoothest, most flavorful pie made from black raspberries. It was love at first bite. On that same trip I also found a delicious black raspberry jam, silky and seedless, a rarity in that type of jam. I started growing our own soon after that, but was never able to find good instructions on how to make a jam like the one I remember from a few years ago. Most of the recipes I found were either jellies, or they had instructions but no actual measurements. I read about a dozen recipes and created this one. If you have access to these delicious berries, this is a great way to stretch and preserve them so you can still enjoy them after the season is over.

This jam is equally delicious on breads or stirred into plain yogurt. It makes my morning!

There is one thing you can do to make this an even easier project: Cook the berries the night before, strain out the seeds by pressing the berries into a mesh strainer over a bowl with the back of a spoon, and let it the strainer continue to drip into the bowl overnight. The next day, you'll have your juice for jam making and can either freeze it for another day, or go ahead and cook your jam.



You will need 3 liquid cups of berry juice, which equals about 6 pints of berries. I simmer the berries in a stock pot with a small amount of water until they soften. Using a ladle, I scoop about two cups of the warm berries into a strainer positioned over a glass bowl. Using a wooden spoon, I push the juice and pulp through a metal strainer until only a seedy clump is left in the strainer and the juice is in the bowl. I repeat with the rest of the berries using about two cups at a time and disposing of the leftover seeds in the strainer between straining. These are the tools I use for that process:


2 quart glass bowl, metal strainer, wooden spoon. 


Also:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. butter
5 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 1/2 Tablespoon pectin

Combine berry juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a stockpot. Add 1/2 tsp. butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat that cannot be stirred down, while stirring frequently. Add pectin. Continue hard boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if needed.

Ladle into hot half pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in water bath canner for ten minutes.

Makes 6-7 half pints.



Smooth and Sweet Black Raspberry Jam (Updated with Better Photos!)

It's black raspberry season, my favorite harvest of the year. 


 A few years ago when we were visiting a friend in Ohio, she served the smoothest, most flavorful pie made from black raspberries. It was love at first bite. On that same trip I also found a delicious black raspberry jam, silky and seedless, a rarity in that type of jam. I started growing our own soon after that, but was never able to find good instructions on how to make a jam like the one I remember from a few years ago. Most of the recipes I found were either jellies, or they had instructions but no actual measurements. I read about a dozen recipes and created this one. If you have access to these delicious berries, this is a great way to stretch and preserve them so you can still enjoy them after the season is over.

This jam is equally delicious on breads or stirred into plain yogurt. It makes my morning!

There is one thing you can do to make this an even easier project: Cook the berries the night before, strain out the seeds by pressing the berries into a mesh strainer over a bowl with the back of a spoon, and let it the strainer continue to drip into the bowl overnight. The next day, you'll have your juice for jam making and can either freeze it for another day, or go ahead and cook your jam.


You will need 3 liquid cups of berry juice, which equals about 6 pints of berries. I simmer the berries in a stock pot with a small amount of water until they soften. Using a ladle, I scoop about two cups of the warm berries into a strainer positioned over a glass bowl. Using a wooden spoon, I push the juice and pulp through a metal strainer until only a seedy clump is left in the strainer and the juice is in the bowl. I repeat with the rest of the berries using about two cups at a time and disposing of the leftover seeds in the strainer between straining. These are the tools I use for that process:

2 quart glass bowl, metal strainer, wooden spoon. 


Also:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. butter
5 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 1/2 Tablespoon pectin

Combine berry juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a stockpot. Add 1/2 tsp. butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat that cannot be stirred down, while stirring frequently. Add pectin. Continue hard boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if needed.

Ladle into hot half pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in water bath canner for ten minutes.

Makes 6-7 half pints.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Strawberry Ministry

While the world stands in awe of box office beauties and other spotlight seekers, my intense admiration is aimed at two unlikely women. We shall call them Mary and Anna, and I came to know of them came from hastily digested news blurbs that I read late at night. Both in the ninth decade of their lives, Mary sewed something like ten dresses a week for the purpose of having them sent overseas for women who had little or none. Anna, in her lifetime, has sewn over 23,000  cloth bags which are then filled with donated school supplies or hygiene items and again, shipped out for relief efforts. I've actually sewn a few of those bags in my time, a very few, and if you had to sew even one thousand of them you would go mad.

Anna said something like, "Well, I'm home all day with a sewing machine, and people donate the fabric for free so it seemed like something to do...around here they call it my ministry."

And I was in awe, this time at her combined humility and sense of duty. She might have just as well declared that there was air, so she figured she better breathe it.

I find personal ministries fascinating, and am always interested in finding out what people consider to be their ministry. There's a lot of talk among wives and mothers about how our families are our ministries, and yes, a home ministry is important, too. Yet, it's always the unrecognized workers toiling in the fields that get really pique my interest. It's also a little frustrating. My imagination holds a hundred ministry ideas, everything from giving breaks to young mothers so they can get much needed showers, to animal therapy and organic farm co-op ideas. There can never be enough time on earth for all of my wonderfully under developed ministry concepts. 


The past two weeks have found me buried in berries. We had an enormous strawberry harvest this year. Every time I turned around, stainless steel bowls glimmered at me with juicy red jewels in need of processing. I did all my jams, and a pie, some strawberry bread, and stuck boxes in the freezer. I actually got tired of them pretty fast, and found joy in passing out quarts to friends and neighbors. That joy was multiplied when I found out the local berry farm was charging a whopping six dollars a quart this year. For about a week, it was fun to surprise our friends and family with strawberries, and while putting my bigger dreams of grand endowments for the greater good on hold, it was somewhat fulfilling to have a brief strawberry ministry. After all, there they were and we couldn't eat them all. It's comforting that I might have another fifty years to find my footing as a Marry or Anna. Until I do, I'll keep looking for more opportunities in small benevolence.

Do you have a ministry? I'd love to hear about it.

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