Part of my wedding contribution is the making of teeny tiny jams to give as favors. Undertaking this project has been really fun and has helped me refine my system to become even more efficient. The good news is that one regular batch of jam will make from 15 to 18 jars. So, really, it's only about 10 batches. And, I'm already half way there!
Start with 4 12 oz. packs of berries, or the equivalent.
When local, organic, spring raspberries began to appear at Costco, I knew it was a great time to get started. Last fall, I combined pomegranate juice with raspberries to fill out an odd amount of berries. It turned out bright and delicious! These two tangy fruits enhance each other spectacularly.
Add Pom juice to equal 4 1/2 lbs.
Because pomegranates are not currently in season, I opted for the easy fix of using bottled Pom juice.
As I often do, I mashed the berries with the sugar and lemon juice and stored them in the fridge until ready to process.
I saw Rachel at Blue Chair Fruit, keeping her jars hot in the oven then pouring into each jar on a cookie sheet, wiping the rims, lidding and then oven processing. Here is a page from Eat Boutique that shows some pictures of her process. I do not oven process the full jars, but filling many jars this way is much quicker than ladling each one and moving the canning funnel from jar to jar. The filled jars can (and should) wait in the oven until it is their turn in the boiling water bath.
If the jam has chunks of fruit, you may get a little splashing as they plop in as you pour, so take care with cleaning the rims. This batch makes 16 of these 4 oz. jars. I used one big jar to send to a friend. I was also lucky enough to has a little left over.
So far, I've made strawberry and raspberry/pom. As new fruits become available, I'll mix it up a bit. If I have two batches of fruit prepped, it really only takes about 90 minutes to do up both batches. And, that is without commercial pectin. If you could taste this, I think you would agree that this small bit of work is well worth the rewards. Bill came over for breakfast shortly after this batch. His reaction was such that my husband asked if he just wanted a big straw to suck it up. I call that success.
Raspberry and Pom Jam
48 oz. fresh raspberries - that's 3 lbs.
Enough Pom juice to bring it up to 4 lbs. - about 2 cups
5 cups cane sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup pectin booster
18 4 oz. jars
Wash and drain berries. Mash together will all other ingredients, until juices are flowing and some whole berries remain. This may be done up to 3 days in advance.
Prepare the boiling water bath and preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place lids and rings in warm water on lowest setting. Wash jars and check for imperfections. Place on a cookie sheet in the preheated oven and keep there for at least 20 minutes. Keep the oven warm at this temperature to keep the jars until ready for filling and processing.
Place the berries in a large, heavy bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Watch and stir occasionally, skimming excess foam. Place some saucers and teaspoons in the freezer. After 20 to 30 minutes, or when the jam reaches 220 degrees, begin to keep a closer watch. When the jam begins to look thicker, glossy and the foam subsides, test the jam by taking a saucer and spoon from the freezer and scooping out a teaspoon. Place the full spoon and saucer back in the freezer for a couple of minutes and check. To check, tip the spoon and let the jam fall off. Does it mound? Does it wrinkle when you push it? Then it is ready! (Click here for pictures of this test.)
When the jam is ready, remove from the heat and place on a potholder in a location convenient to where you will fill the jars. Bring the whole cookie sheet of heated jars out of the oven. Give the jam a few gentle stirs to distribute fruit and skim off any remaining remnants of foam. Use a ladle to fill a two cup measuring cup with a good pour spout. Carefully fill all the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims and threads of the jars to insure any spills are cleaned up. Place lids and rings on each jar and finger tighten - be gentle! Keeping the jars upright at all times, lift jars into the boiling water bath and process for 10 minutes each. Keep remaining jars warm in the oven until it is their turn. When each processing is complete, carefully lift the jars out onto another cookie sheet that has been lined with a tea towel. Once the seals pop, I like to wipe any excess water off the top and loosen the rings a bit. That way the heat of the jam and help evaporate any water under the rings.
If you have a big, multi-step project going, I highly recommend that you find some way to demarcate each flavor before storing. Right now, a sharpie on the side of the canning jar boxes is how I'm keeping track. I'm not sure how Bill and Marina will want to label and decorate the jars, so I'm holding them simply.
Congratulations to Bill and Marina! I'm so glad to be part of a sweet start to a very sweet life!