Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Preserves

For the past couple of months I have been making jams and jellies whenever I can, rushing to preserve some summer fruits while they are in season. It started when I found a vendor selling mayhaw jelly at the Kingwood Farmers' Market. My Memaw used to make mayhaw jelly every year, but there aren't many people left willing to venture into the swamps of East Texas to gather wild mayhaws. I left the farmers' market with a jar of jelly and the phone number of the mayhaw farmer. Joe, Mom, Memaw and I traveled down many miles of dirt roads in the Big Thicket to find the elusive mayhaw farm, and I've been canning everything I can get my hands on since.

My favorite cookbook so far is an English translation of Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber, apparently known as the fairy godmother of jams in France. She includes several jam recipes that incorporate chocolate, which sounded too good to be true. Raspberries were on sale for $1 per pack at Randall's last weekend, so it was time to give chocolate jam a try.

Raspberry with Chocolate Jam

2 3/4 pounds raspberries, or 2 1/4 pounds, net
3 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
9 ounces extra bittersweet chocolate

Ferber recommends that you omit rinsing the raspberries to preserve their fragrance. I picked out a few leaves, and processed them through the fine disk of the food mill I've been waiting for an excuse to buy.

The recipe instructs you to grate the chocolate, but I just chopped it finely since it will be melted in the very hot raspberry syrup. Ferber recommends a chocolate with about 70% cocoa content. I used a Dove chocolate with 71% cocoa. Three packages have just over 9 oz, so there will some to spare for tasting by the chef.

In a large pan you will mix together your raspberry puree, lemon juice and sugar and bring to a full boil. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes. I was using a candy thermometer and boiled just slightly longer, until I reached about 218ยบ.

Stir in your chocolate, cover the mixture with parchment, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, return your mixture to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Check the set. (It should sheet from a spoon, or mound without running on a chilled plate.) Ladle the jam into sterilized jars and seal.

That's the end of the Ferber recipe, but U.S. standards call for a boiling water bath for preserves. I did go ahead and process the sealed jars in boiling water for 10 minutes for that extra piece of mind. After the boiling water bath the jars need to be left on the counter to cool for 24 hours.

I've already used some of this jam as a filling in thumbprint cookies. It could be warmed to drizzle over ice cream or french toast. I'm also looking forward to enjoying some with a croissant.

And here are the other canning projects that have been keeping me busy this summer:

I can't take credit for the label designs. I found labels I loved on another blog and have created a few new graphics for the jams I've been making.


  1. Tonya, what a great, informative post! Thanks! I wish you would bring some of your jam for us to sample! :-)

  2. Angie, I'm sure that can be arranged!

  3. YUMMY! I can say from personal experience that the Peach Butter is the bomb diggity. When are you bringing raspberry chocolate to work? Hmmmm??? Hmmmmmmmmm?