Though I’m usually a DIY kind of home cook, I don’t make my own jam — much. There’s a fear of spoilage that seems to run in my family and keep me from wanting to can anything for winter. Still, nearly every summer, around the time when the raspberries get plentiful in the backyard, I make a batch or two of freezer jam. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s just what it sounds like — if you plan on keeping the jam more than about a week, it’ll have to go into the freezer. Like almost any homemade jam, though, it tastes so good it probably won’t last more than a week.
Till this year I’ve made my freezer jam with kits I bought at the store, not giving much thought to what might be in them. This year, with a lot of plain gelatin on hand, I began wondering if it would be any use in gelling fresh fruit. After some research I found, sure enough, Oregon State University’s Extension Service had come up with a fruit spread recipe using gelatin. As a bonus, it didn’t even call for sugar, though they said you could put in sugar — or honey — if you wanted.
I adapted it into my own recipe because I wanted to use a whole packet of gelatin at once, and also to experiment with juice as flavoring. Here’s what I came up with. This makes a very jam-like spread with plenty of fruit taste and not too much sweetness. It’s good on pancakes, and if your sweet tooth complains, just add syrup, or honey if you want to avoid sugar completely.
- 1 packet (or tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
- 5 tablespoons commercial berry juice, divided*
- 6 cups berries, any kind or a mixture, washed, trimmed if necessary, and crushed**
- *one juice box is more than enough
- ** this will take about five dry pints
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over three tablespoons of the berry juice.
- It will combine quickly into a gummy substance.
- Heat the berries in a pot over high heat, stirring all the time, till they boil. Then take them off the heat, add the gelatin mixture, and stir it in with a whisk.
- Put the pot back on the burner and cook for just a minute. Take it off the heat again and stir in two tablespoons of the berry juice.
- Put in containers and let it cool before you put them in the fridge.
- Makes a quart, or possibly a little more.
- OSU’s recipe advises you to use their spread within a month.
- As noted above, I usually figure on a week for my freezer jams, and they’re usually gone by then anyway.