Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Raspberry Preserves

I had the opportunity to go raspberry picking last weekend (after cancelling plans to pick the previous weekend due to rain).  I went with my mom, sister-in-law, and son to pick raspberries in Cedarburg, Wisconsin at a cute little farm called Witte's Vegetable Farm.  I really liked the farm, and would love to go back.  They grow all kinds of things (like beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, beets, and many more items that I can't remember).  A lot of the items are pick your own, but they also have a stand where they sell pre-picked items.  I picked up some carrots and corn in the store and they were both very delicious.

I wish I would have taken some pictures of the berry picking, but I didn't.  It was a bit messy, plus it was pretty hot out.  I made the mistake of only bringing plastic grocery bags, and the berries on the bottom got squished as the bag filled up (and by filled up, I mean about 1/4 full).  Plus the berries were extra soft since it was so hot out.  Next time I'll bring something more supportive...some type of box (or 2 boxes).  It took me a while to get into the groove of picking.  When I picked strawberries in early summer, it was difficult to bend over so much, but the picking was easier because you could see results quickly.  With raspberries you don't have to bend over so much, but you have to pick a lot of berries before you start to feel the weight of them.  The farm had a minimum weight of 3 pounds, and we all had a hard time telling when we had 3 pounds.  After being interrupted by my son for juice, water, and snacks, I ended up with slightly under 5 pounds.  My mom and sister-in-law got quite more than me (but my mom shared with both of us...thanks mom!).

Because the raspberries were so soft, I couldn't really freeze them.  I wanted to make preserves and a chocolate raspberry sauce.  However, I was out of cocoa powder, so the sauce was out of the running.  Preserves it was.  I came across a great recipe from the Boston Globe.  They featured a young woman, named Afton Cotton who is starting her own canning business.  She shared her recipe with the paper, and I feel lucky to have found it.  I love that it includes vanilla extract, cinnamon, and allspice.

First I washed the berries and put them in a pot.
Then I mixed in the sugar, lemon juice, and brown sugar, and let it macerate for about 10 minutes.
As the berries were macerating, I mixed 1/4 cup of the sugar with a package of No Sugar Needed Pectin.
After 10 minutes, it looked like this:
Then I added the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and allspice.
I slowly brought it up to a boil, then added the sugar/pectin mixture and turned the heat up to high.  The trick here is to continually stir the preserves.  You don't want them to stick to the pot and scald.  After you make jam/jelly/preserves a few time you really get a feel for when it's ready- it feels thicker.  If you have a candy thermometer it's ready at 220 degrees.
There is a test you can do to check if your preserves will set when canned.  Place a small plate in the freezer.  Place a small amount of preserves on the plate and put it back into the freezer for about a minute until it's cooled to about room temperature.
Then you run your finger through it.  It should hold it's shape and not close right up. 
When I knew (from the feeling) that the preserves were cooked to the right temperature, I removed them from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If there is any foam on top, you can skim it off.
Fill the jars, and process for 15 minutes.

Enjoy the taste of raspberries without an overwhelming amount sugar.  This recipe was kid tested and mom approved!
I'd like to note that the recipe is supposed to yield 4 or 5 half pints.  I was lucky enough to get 6 1/2.  I made 3 batches of this recipe the exact same way, and got 6 1/2 every time (with a little bit extra for the fridge).  Also, when making any jam/jelly/preserve you cannot double the recipe because you run the risk of the jam not setting.  It doesn't affect the taste, so if you don't mind ending up with syrup...go ahead with the gamble.


  1. Wow, making your own is so worth all the effort.. I see the little man does not care much for the delicious preserves!

  2. that looks great, and your boys face is really cute. Sounds like you got a lot of berries.


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