Small Batch No-Canning Raspberry Lemon Jam

It's a rare moment of midday peace and quiet in the house, and, as I type, I am consciously releasing the anxiety of wondering if it's going to end before I can get this brief jam recipe written... #parentingproblems

While canning can get a little involved, just making a small batch of jam is simple and easy. I've already discussed that at some length here on my No-Canning Strawberry Jam post, so I won't go into it again but to say that I recommend the quick read if you're thinking about making a no-canning stovetop jam for the first time - just some basic guidelines to apply to the making of any fruit jam that'll also come in handy for this recipe.

Someone asked me the other day what the difference is between a jam and a preserve. My take on it is that jam is really just a subset of preserves, preserves including any number of preparations intended to make raw ingredients last much longer without spoilage than they would otherwise. Generally speaking, all jams are preserves, but not all preserves are jams.

Would you be wrong to call this a raspberry preserve? Am I wrong to call this a raspberry jam? Not in my book.

But there's always someone out there looking to make things harder and more special than they need to be and in their book, one or both of us might be. But screw those people. Who cares what they think. :P

Small Batch No-Canning Raspberry Lemon Jam
Makes about 8 ounces
Time: About 1 hour

- 12 ounces fresh raspberries rinsed and thoroughly drained
- 2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet and thick you like your jam
- 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- a tiny pinch of salt (as with most sweet recipes, this little bit of salt deepens and rounds out the flavors and does not impart a noticeably salty flavor)

1) Put all the ingredients into a pot (starting with 2/3 cups of sugar), stir to distribute the ingredients, and put the pot, uncovered on medium low heat until all the sugar melts and the mixture just starts to bubble. (Usually takes just under 10 minutes for me.) 

2) Turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you can scrape fruit solids off the surface of the pot, your heat's too high. It's better to err on the side of lower heat and longer cook time than to cook the fruit to the point that it begins to stick to the bottom of the pot. Just a little of that mild burn can alter the whole batch in a way you might not like so much.

3) About halfway through the simmer, take a potato masher or a fork and mash the berries to release some more of their natural pectin and to get the jam to the consistency you like. If you like more whole fruit, less mashing, but give it a few good mashes just to aid the natural thickening.

4) Check the sweetness 10 minutes before the jam is done to adjust and add more sugar if needed.

Because I like my jam texture something like a thick compote (it's more versatile that way - I can eat it over ice cream, or with yogurt), I don't add pectin or gelatin, and I stop the cooking when the jam has the texture of a thick stew. When it cools, it'll thicken even more, but it won't have that solid gel texture of a storebought jam.

Then just put your jam in a clean and well-dried tight lidded container (doesn't have to be glass), cool completely uncovered, then cover and refrigerate. It'll keep fine for at least a good 6 to 8 weeks.

Enjoy! :)




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