Russian Raspberry Preserves

July 6, 2010

in Appetizers & Misc., DIY & Crafts, Preserving, Recipes, Russian & Azerbaijani

Perhaps your grandma made these in your distant childhood. Perhaps you were born in Russia and raspberry preserves in your household were guarded strictly by powers that be until the day you got sick (back in the Old Country, raspberry preserves are a popular folk remedy for colds and flu). Perhaps you almost wished you would get sick so you could partake of them. However you remember them, raspberry preserves are elementary to make at home when berries are in season at farmer’s markets or in your garden. Let me show you how. I used to charge moneys for this kind of demonstrations, by the way.

Raspberry Preserves Recipe

I picked these succulent, jewel-toned beauties on my farm. I tend to freeze a lot of my berries with the purpose of making milk shakes and wind pudding in the dead of winter, but I also like to make some into preserves. Which couldn’t be simpler, really. Raspberry preserves are elementary to make and need nothing beyond berries, sugar, and some lemon juice, having enough natural pectin for the final product to set without the addition of any commercial product. The cookware matters a little, however – I found that stainless steel pots with wide and heavy bottoms work best.

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When it comes to sugar, I sweeten my jams with just that – sugar – and plenty of it. Cheap, plain white sugar, the kind that comes from countries with non-democratic governments, is what I love best.

Just pour sugar over the berries…

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Followed by some lemon juice. Lemon juice, by the way, helps the fruit jell better, and also boosts the color and the flavor of the fruit considerably. All of my jams and jellies include lemon juice.

Important note: You don’t want to use more than 8 cups of fruit at a time, for I found that larger quantities don’t set as well. For that reason,  I use 4 to 8 cups of fruit per batch, depending on how much I was able to pick that day, keeping in mind that the amount of fruit used will equal the amount of final product (so 8 cups of berries will make 4 pints of jam, and so forth).

Important note 2: I never wash berries from my garden or a market. They are organic, and I am OK with a few bugs here and there.

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Set the pot over low heat, and stir everything together to help the sugar dissolve.

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As the sugar melts, it will begin to look like this.

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Continue cooking it over low heat, stirring occasionally. It will soon begin to come to a boil. Once my jam looks like in the picture above, I set the timer for 5 min. Note that I don’t wait for a full rolling boil to set the timer because I don’t want to take any chances with overcooking the fruit. When it comes to jams, I am after bright colors and flavors more than I am after firm consistency.

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Soon the jam will be boiling more vigorously…

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And then really vigorously…Keep the heat at low the entire time.

And as soon as the timer goes off, remove the pan from heat and let cool in the pot to room temperature. Note that I don’t remove any foam – it makes very little difference, and that kind of fussing goes against my entire cooking philosophy.

P1100048 Mmm, this is outstanding, if I do say so myself!

Then all you need to do is ladle the now-cool jam into jars and stick them in the freezer, where they will keep, literally, for years. Note that I don’t ever process my jams in a hot-water bath (in which case they could be stored at room temperature) – for one, the amount of jam I make for the year does not justify the time and effort that canning would take, and boiling water would also extend the cooking time, encroaching on that bright red color and fresh fruity taste, and I am particularly sensitive to overcooked jam. This wouldn’t work for the Amish, but if you already have a freezer, I would say this is a better way.

Now you can spread it on toast, or just plain fresh bread, like my daughter…

…or eat it by spoonful, accompanied by a cup of unsweetened black tea, for the real old-world experience. That’s what I use mine for.

Easy Raspberry Preserves

  • 8 C whole red raspberries
  • 7 C white sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 C of lemon juice, depending on the tartness of your berries

Place berries into a heavy-bottomed pan and pour sugar and lemon juice on top. Set the pot over low heat, and stir everything together. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally. As soon as you notice the first signs of boil, set a timer for 5 min. Remove from heat when the timer goes off. Cool to room temperature in the pan, then transfer to jars. The jam will keep for 3-4 years in the freezer (ask me how I know this), or a few months in the fridge. This recipe can be divided in half but not doubled.

{ 10 comments }

1 Brian @ A Thought For Food July 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Making jam/preserves is so easy and after making the blueberry/rhubarb jam a few weeks ago, I’m ready to make some more. While I won’t be hand picking my raspberries, hopefully we’ll be getting some from the CSA soon.

2 Sofya July 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Yep, rasp. is especially easy. More work making jellies – gotta steam them berries first (or do something along those lines to get the juice out), and then you need to add pectin to some. Strawberry is one.

In fact, Brian, I should add that it’s almost too easy – it’s too easy to make too much. Although my jams/jellies are so very good, they are my strongest cooking skill, and as such you can give them to ppl for Xmas.

3 Tes July 9, 2010 at 7:39 am

Wow it looks so great! I made raspberries jam before. I’m gonna try your recipe. It sounds great on pancake and ice-cream :)

4 Sofya July 9, 2010 at 2:30 pm

It’s my favorite.

5 Egan August 13, 2011 at 12:41 am

Love it!

6 Guest July 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Couldn’t you spoon the hot preserves into a mason/ball jar… so that as they cool, they seal the jar air-tight? So you wouldn’t have to freeze?

7 Sofya July 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm

No, sealing is not enough – in that case you need to process it in a hot water bath to kill yeasts and molds inherent to fruit and make it shelf stable (not an issue with freezing). Otherwise these organisms could start doing their thing and your jam could spoil. This is my understanding.

8 Corinne August 10, 2012 at 3:38 am

My husband brought home a flat of raspberries yesterday, and your jam recipe looks like a deliciously good way to use most of them. I do have a question: How long will an open jar keep in the fridge if the jam hasn’t been through a hot water bath?

9 Sofya August 10, 2012 at 7:30 am

Maybe a couple of months. I freeze all mine, and then it keeps for a couple of years. Keep in mind that mine is soft and flowing as a sauce – isn’t really jam, it’s Russian preserves to eat with a spoon with black tea. Just don’t want to mislead you. My family doesn’t mind though, uses as jam. Otherwise you need pectin. Also, raspberries are great for food processor ice-cream I also have on this blog.

10 Jenny June 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Just discovered your blog and made the jam. It was so simple, thanks!
I am now obsessed with your blog – I live in Madison, WI and love to read about the Wisconsin country life you are living to the fullest, something I hope I might be able to do one day!

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