There are few better ways to while away twenty minutes or so in the garden than by picking your own raspberries – and it’s a delight that you can extend from July all the way through to the first frosts by planting the right varieties.
Read our guide to growing raspberries.
You will know when they are fully ripe and at their very best when they darken slightly in colour and pull away easily from the core. In fact, the hardest part of raspberry growing is picking them before the birds beat you to it!
Assuming you’ve managed to beat our avian friends to the juiciest berries, raspberry jam is a great way to store that lovely fruity flavour, enabling you to have a taste of summer all-year round. It’s also the easiest jam recipe, making it an ideal introduction to making jam for your grandchildren!
1. Sterilize your jars. Place the empty, clean jars on a baking sheet or roasting tin. Carefully place in a hot oven (130°C or 275°F) for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, turn the oven off and leave them to cool slightly.
2. Wash the raspberries and drain well before adding to a wide-bottomed saucepan.
3. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to the boil gently until the juices start to flow. When they are flowing nicely you can bring to a firm, rolling boil.
4. Test after five minutes by dropping a teaspoonful onto a chilled saucer. Leave for 30 seconds and if it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s ready.
5. If it isn’t quite ready, keep boiling, testing every two minutes. Gadget-lovers can use a jam thermometer: when the jam temperature reaches 105°C (220°F) it’s ready.
6. Pour into the still-warm jars and put the lid on, tightening firmly. As it cools, the metal lid should pop down; any that don’t should be kept in the fridge and used first as they haven’t sealed properly. The rest of the jars will keep for at least a year in a cool, dark place.
7. The vivid red colour may dull after a few months, although the taste will be unaffected. Once opened, the jar should be stored in the fridge.
Pectin-free raspberry jam
You can make the raspberry jam without adding any pectin at all by using normal white granulated sugar. However, the finished jam might turn out to have a softer set than you are used to. You can either store it in the fridge to help firm it up and call it ‘fridge jam’ or make your own pectin from slightly under-ripe cooking apples.
Low-sugar raspberry jam
You can also make raspberry jam with less sugar if you prefer a slightly sharper flavour. I’ve made it with 750g of sugar per 1kg of fruit and been very happy with the resulting taste.
Raspberries freeze very well. Just freeze them loose in a baking tray first, bagging them up only when they’re frozen to ensure that they freeze individually and not in one solid lump!