There is something deeply satisfying about being able to make your own canned goods. I’m still rather new to the art. I only just started canning in the last few years. Most of what I can is what I grow in my garden with perhaps a little supplementation. This past year I grew San Marino tomatoes which were turned into several pints of delicious tomato sauce. While it was deeply satisfying to see the many jars of ruby red sauce lining my kitchen counters once done, my greatest source of garden pride came from another plant: my raspberry bushes.
My raspberry bushes have been a source of both joy and frustration over the past two years. In 2016 I planted three plants, with the expectation that I would get at least a small crop the first year. However, as the plants grew and developed they did not bear fruit but rather crumbly, flowerlike appendages. I’m honestly at a loss as to what happened. I even contacted the supplier and sent them a picture of the plant but they weren’t sure what was going on either. At best guess I figured it was some type of virus had gotten to the plants, perhaps prior to them being shipped to me. Since there’s no way to treat a plant virus there was no point in keeping them as they would likely never bear fruit. So much to my dismay, I dug up the three plants in the countless small seedlings that they had spawned. It was quite an undertaking and this year I’m still pulling saplings despite spraying the bed to ensure that the diseased plans were gone.
But time goes on. the 2017 season approached and I planted new plants of a different variety this year. I also opted to expand my raspberry patch to include the other side of the garden entrance, bringing the plant count to a total of six. I watched them very carefully all season for signs of the virus but found that within a few months of after transplant they were bearing white flowers and starting to produce a small amount of fruit. The early summer crop was small, but we were fortunate to have an Indian summer and as the raspberry plants grew we got more and more fruit. There were days in both August and September when I could waddle out to the garden (I was nine months pregnant or postpartum at the time)and pick a cup of fresh raspberries. What didn’t get popped into my mouth right away I froze until I had enough of these delicious sweet red morsels to turn them into a tasty jam.
But this is no ordinary raspberry jam. I couldn’t help but put my own spin on the delicious recipe. In addition to the traditional ingredients of raspberries, sugar, and pectin, I added a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste. Vanilla bean paste is an excellent, high-quality ingredient to keep in your pantry. It allows for the addition of the vanilla bean flavor without having to slice open a vanilla bean and scrape all the seats out. I’m not saying I haven’t done it, but after being given a jar of vanilla bean paste for Christmas (high-quality, slightly expensive ingredients is an excellent Christmas gift for a baker) I haven’t gone back.
This Christmas I opted to can a large batch of raspberry jam to hand out as gifts to my family. The impression I got was it was quite tasty and barely lasted the holiday weekend in most households. This recipe makes for fantastic gifts when done in half pints. I recommend white mouth open jars for the sake of easiness when canning and because they make for prettier gifts! For home, I used full pint-sized jars.
Vanilla Bean Raspberry Jam
- 1000 g of raspberries gently washed
- 500 g of white sugar half of your fruit
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 packet liquid pectin half a box
- 1 T Vanilla Bean Paste
Bring your canning pot to a boil. Clean and prep your jars. Bring your lids to a simmer.
Pour the berries into a large, non-reactive pot. Add sugar and stir to combine. Bring up to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, bring the heat to high and let the fruit and sugar boil, stirring frequently.
After about 15-20 minutes of cooking, when all the berries have broken down and the bubbles look thick and viscous, add the lemon juice, vanilla and the pectin. Bring to a rapid boil and allow it to boil for about five minutes.
Fill jars, wipe rims and apply lids and rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (start time when the water returns to a boil).
When time is up, remove the jars from the pot and let them cool. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year (although I don't think that it will last that long).