OCTOBER 2013 Preserving: Our Canadian Food Tradition

I can't believe a month has passed and once again it is time to post for the The Canadian Food Experience and that this month I get to talk about something that means so much to me personally.

Sometimes I take my preserving skills for granted. It is just something I feel like I have always known how to do without actually remembering being taught. I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family where jam was always homemade, peaches were preserved so they could be enjoyed in the middle of winter and pickles were always available and on a shelf in the basement.

I always assumed that it was the same in everyone’s house. That when you ran out of jam you went downstairs and could choose from the selection of jams that always seemed to be there; raspberry, peach, cherry or blueberry.  Not that you ran to the grocery store or put it on the grocery list.

I remember vividly sitting on my nona’s front step with my mom and my aunt shelling peas that had just been picked from the garden, making raspberry jam from the raspberries we just picked out of my aunt and my nona’s garden.

I never thought it was weird that I knew the meanings of words such as suspension, headspace, set and waterbath at an age when my friends were talking about smurfs, then Sweet Valley High or Flowers in the Attic.

I spent almost 2 decades working in packaged goods, fashion and digital marketing before I finally found what I now consider my “calling” and it turned out to be preserving. And of course, it was something that had been sitting there right in front of my eyes for years.

Recently I was asked what my favourite thing to preserve was and without hesitation my answer was Raspberry Jam. I love absolutely everything about it. I look forward to raspberry picking from the moment the last snow flake melts, I love the smell of the raspberries as they cook, I thoroughly enjoy beating the crap out of the berries to release the pectin from their seeds and I love spreading the deliciousness on my morning jam.

This recipe was the very first jam I ever made and I love it for it's simplicity. It is how my mom made her raspberry jam and one day, I hope it is how you will make your own raspberry jam. Just remember…if you don’t feel like making your own you can always just buy it from me ;).

Super Simple and Delicious Raspberry Jam

600 gram bag of fresh or frozen raspberries

3 cups granulated sugar

Sterilize your jars and lids.

Place the sugar in a pot or pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes at about 250 degrees. Warming the sugar helps it to dissolve.

Place the 600g of raspberries in a large saucepan and heat over medium high heat. While it warms mash it furiously with your potato masher. The seeds in the raspberry contain pectin and beating the crap out of them helps release it. :) Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly for one minute.

Add the 3 cups of warm sugar, stir constantly and bring it back to a boil. If you have a candy thermometer you can use this to make the whole process even easier. Keep stirring until it reaches 200-220* F. Don't have a thermometer? That's ok, just put a glass plate in your freezer at the same time as you start to sterilize your jars. After the jam has been boiling for about 5 minutes, take the plate out of the freezer and drop about a half of a spoonful of jam on the cold plate and let it sit for about a minute. If a gel forms then your jam is ready. If not keep cooking and try it again until you are happy with the set.

Ladle into hot jars, wipe the rims and seal. Place in hot water bath for 10 minutes and then remove. Now comes my favourite part - when you hear the popping of the lids as they seal.

This recipe yields 3-4 jars of delicious home made jam. That's right...in your FACE store bought jam.