One of the great things about living in the Snoqualmie valley is the abundance of small farms and local produce. Along with farmers markets and road side stands, we have berry farms filled with luscious fruit.
I missed the strawberry season, but last week I went with my in-laws and a friend down to Harvold Berry Farm to pick raspberries. In the past, I’ve been when the berries were small, or moldy, or past their prime; this time we hit it perfectly. The vines were dripping with them.
We ate bowls of berries on Tuesday. My in-laws were headed out of town on Wednesday morning, and they left most of their berries behind. I wound up with the better part of 20 pounds of raspberries in my fridge and needed to do something–that’s a lot of berries.
Instead of getting busy, I went to Oregon for a few days. I’m thankful that Baby Girl bagged up a bunch of them and put them in the freezer to be enjoyed later. With strawberries, I add a little sugar to help them keep their shape and color, but with raspberries, I simply throw them in a freezer bag.
Before I left, I asked her to set aside eight cups of berries for some jam. I’ve had a weird jar of calcium water in the fridge for months since I made blackberry jam last fall (check out The Harvest) using Pomona Fruit Pectin. I was hoping it would still be good and wasn’t disappointed–no mold or strange color had developed over the last nine months.
If you haven’t tried this stuff, it is amazing. Instead of nearly equal parts sugar and fruit, I used eight cups of berries and only one cup of sugar. You can use honey or other sweeteners, too. The whole process is really simple.
First you make your calcium water. I just had to pull my jar out of the fridge. Then you mix the appropriate amount of calcium water and fruit and bring it to a boil.
Mix your sugar and the pectin in a separate bowl, and then add to the boiling fruit.
Stir constantly for two minutes, and your done. I was a little worried that that might not be enough time to set up properly. Would it really jell in just two minutes? I left it on for a touch longer and ended up with a firmer set. Once you get to this point, it’s just a matter of ladling the jam into jars, and water bath canning for 10 minutes to create the seal.
The short cooking time and the low sugar content really let the taste of the raspberries shine. It’s just like summer in a jar and the perfect accompaniment to a biscuit in the morning.
Since my in-laws did pick a majority of the berries, I thought I’d send them home with a few jars.
They’ll be back at the end of the week for a quick visit before going home to Nevada. Jam jars are easier to transport than a bowl of berries.
If you’re a canner, I encourage you to give Pomona Fruit Pectin a try. Along with simple recipes, they have a few more exotic ones on their web site. Doesn’t Blueberry Lavender Jam or Berry Chocolate Jam sound intriguing?
Now, I still have a few berries left. I thought I’d make a glazed strawberry-raspberry pie to thank Baby Girl for helping around here. She’s been gone at the FFA officers’ retreat and might enjoy a tasty treat to welcome her home. This pie from James McNair’s Pie Cookbook is a favorite of mine; I’ll just have to substitute a gluten-free crust.
How are you enjoying the local harvest? Been berry picking lately?