Making It Yourself – Raspberry Jam

This is part of a semi-regular series of posts tackling how to make some of the things that we often end up buying pre-made.  Things that we think of as basic ingredients, that aren’t ‘ingredients’ at all but are actually processed in some way for us.  Things like bread, jam, butter, ketchup, baked beans and pickled ginger. Not everything is cheaper to make than buy, yet when you make it yourself, you know what’s in it.

raspberry jam

Raspberry jam is my favourite jam, both to make and eat. You can buy cheap jam miles cheaper than you can make it, obviously, but homemade jam is just a million times better.

You can save a bit on your jam marking by using home grown berries or ones that are ‘yellow stickered’ in the supermarket (but they can’t be completely bruised and overripe as it affects the set of the jam).  I bought a raspberry plant from Wilkinsons this year but it didn’t grow at all and just looks like dead sticks. (This is the third Wilkinsons plant this has happened too so I’m not buying them from there anymore!).

I’d heard that you could make jam with frozen raspberries, which are cheaper, so I decided to test it out for you guys.  The raspberries cost me £4 for two 350g packs, which made enough for 4 1/2 jars of jam (one was bigger so it’d have made 5 if they’d have been all the same size0, whereas the cheapest fresh raspberries cost £3 for 300g!  Not exactly bargain jam but a much better price anyway.

And the frozen raspberries worked brilliantly – the jam has a fantastic set and tastes perfect. So definitely worth using unless you grow your own!

raspberry jam 2 header

Makes 5 small jars, at 94p a jar

  • 700g frozen raspberries (or fresh if you have them), defrosted £4
  • 700g granulated sugar 70p

Start by popping a few small plates in the freezer, to test the jam at the end.  Put the raspberries in a very large pot and heat until warmed through (with fresh ones, you’re watching out for juices running, but the defrosted ones are quite juicy anyway, so it’s a little bit harder to tell).

Add the sugar and stir in.  At first, it looks like way too much sugar to dissolve in the tiny amount of juice, but after a minute of stirring the pot will be magically full of lovely red liquid.  Quickly rinse your clean jars and put on a plate, then pop in the microwave and blast for a couple of minutes to sterilise – you also don’t want to put hot jam in cold jars, as they’ll explode.

raspberry jam 3

Bring to the boil and boil for around 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat, take a cold plate from the freezer, and drop a tiny bit of jam on it.  Leave for a few seconds to cool, then push at the jam with your finger.  It should wrinkle on the surface and look and feel like jam rather than a runny mess.  If it’s still a bit runny, put the pot back on the heat and boil for another 5 minutes, then test again.  keep going until the jam’s set.

As a warning, the pot should be really big because the jam can double in size when it boils.  Hot sugar is also extremely dangerous, so be careful to avoid burning yourself.  Also, the reason you take the jam off the heat every time you test is it only takes an extra minute or two to make your jam set rock hard and taste burnt (as I discovered once, making pear and vanilla jam!).

Once the jam is at setting point, grab your hot, clean jars and ladle the jam into them right up to the top, putting the lids on straight away.  If you make jam a lot, investing in a jam funnel (a really wide-mouthed funnel) will make this job a bit easier and less messy (I love mine!).

Do you make your own jam, or do you think you get better value from bought stuff?

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