August 23, 2009

Preserving Summer Flavor

Wednesday, I found an incredible deal up in Suisun Valley where my daughter goes to day care.  It is a valley of farms, olives and grapes mostly, but dotted down a few long dirt roads, if you know where to go, are some great produce farms.  One in particular at this time of year has great berries.....and on this day, the deal was raspberries.

Now I am a very picky produce person.  I may not dust my house as often as some others, I may not get the cobwebs on my back porch as thoroughly as some, but when it comes to quality and the flavor factor in produce......well, let's just say I have an eye and nose for flavor.

So I got such a deal on organic raspberries, that I just had to try to preserve the flavor.  So my daughter and I got busy this afternoon and started researching raspberry jam.  Since my husband is diabetic, we really wanted to find a recipe that he could enjoy too.  Since I had never made jam without sugar, I was a little hesitant, even though I purchased Ball pectin that said that it could be made without sugar...I was skeptical.  Especially when I read the recipes inside the box that said to add unsweetened apple or grape juice to the mix.  I just couldn't see it when what I wanted was intense raspberry flavor!  

After doing numerous internet searches, looking at Elizabeth David's oven jam recipe, and Martha Stewart's recipes for preserves....I decided to follow my instincts and just make jam with Splenda. I cook and bake with Splenda all the time....I should be able to figure out a simple delicious jam recipe using this substitute too.

One note, after processing the jam, turn the jars upside down out onto a clean dry kitchen towel for ten minutes. I don't really remember why my Mama used to do this when putting up preserves, but hers turned out great every time!

Late Summer Raspberry Jam with Splenda
5 half pint Ball jars with lids and rings
7 pints of organic raspberries
1 package (1.75 gr) Ball No Sugar Needed Pectin
1/2 cup filtered water
3/4 cup Splenda, granulated

In a large pot, half filled with water, boil the jars and the lids (not the rings). Remove from heat and top with the pot lid to keep the jars hot while
readying the raspberries.

Fill a canning pot, lined with a jar rack, 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil and keep at a simmer until you are ready to add the filled jars.

After washing the raspberries and letting air dry on a clean kitchen towel, pile the raspberries into a large sauce pan and crush with a potato masher, breaking up the berries, but not completely crushing them.  Sprinkle with powdered pectin.  Mix in the pectin gradually, stirring to incorporate.  Let stand ten minutes.

Add the water to the raspberry mixture and bring to a rolling boil and reaches 220 degrees.  Stir constantly and boil for one minute.  Remove from heat.  

Immediately start draining the hot jars and filling with the jam mixture to 1/4 inch from the rim.  Take out one lid at a time, pat dry with a clean towel and wipe the edge and rim of the filled jar.  Apply the lid and secure the ring.  Put filled jars into the simmering water bath, cover and bring the water up to a rolling boil.  Once at a boil, process the jars for ten minutes.

After ten minutes processing, remove the hot jars from the water bath, using canning tongs and turn the jar upside down on a clean kitchen towel and let sit for ten minutes. Turn the jars right side up on the towel and let sit for several hours. You may hear the tell tale popping sound of the lids.  This sound signifies that the seals have done their job!

Before labeling and storing, gently remove the rings on the jars and press lightly against the seals to make sure that the processing "took".  If the jars come unsealed easily at this point.  You will need to reheat the jam and re-process to seal again.

Makes 5 jars of raspberry jam.

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