Farm Foraging: Small Batch Black Raspberry Jam

Is your idea of the perfect jam one that tastes like biting into a sweet, juicy berry? Do you like the crunchy texture of seeds in your jam? Is a simple recipe, without pectin, a bonus? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you’ll love this easy, scalable jam!

Why small batch? Because the black raspberries here grow wild, and I’m lucky to be able to gather a half a cup at a time from the various (and far-flung) places where the berries hide. The black raspberries like to hide among blackberry canes and wild roses, too, so it’s nearly impossible to finish a foraging trip without sustaining quite a few scratches from those thorns. But it’s worth it!

Wondering what a black raspberry is, exactly? It’s neither raspberry nor blackberry. It looks more like a raspberry, but turns black when fully ripe. It’s also much smaller and sweeter than a blackberry. Of the three types of berries, black raspberries are the tastiest, IMO.

I collected berries over three days: each morning, I tried to beat the birds to the ripest berries. Some days, I was successful; other days, not so much – purple bird poo near the bushes was a sure sign that the birds had gotten there first. But the berry container in the refrigerator gradually grew fuller, and today I figured that there were enough to make a decent amount of jam. So I did.

This is my kind of jam recipe: rinse berries, place in pan, mash, add sugar, boil for about 12 minutes, pour into a suitable container, and refrigerate.

Though the jam may look a bit runny when first poured into the container, it firms up quickly when refrigerated. As I mentioned already, this recipe is very scalable, too: the first time I made the jam, I only had about 1 cup of berries, so I used a ratio of 1 cup berries to 3/8 cup sugar.

I’m always looking for ways to reduce the sugar in recipes, so with my second batch (the first was my “test” mini batch), I substituted 1/16 tsp stevia* powder for about 1/4 cup of the sugar. I tasted it as it cooked, and it was plenty sweet with the substitution.

*I suspect that erythritol could also be substituted for some of the sugar – a ratio of 3 parts sugar to 1 part erythritol would likely work.

When I’m enjoying homemade sourdough toast with grass fed butter (Kerrygold, of course) in the morning, the memories of the scratches, merciless sun, and biting bugs will disappear into a blissful berry jam haze. It’s that good.