Bread and Jam for Frances is part of a great children's book series, but I love it because my daughters and I always loved bread and jam for snacks. Unlike Frances, my kids were adventurous eaters, but for study snacks on Saturday and Sunday the order of the day was bread and jam—plus a little fruit here and there. We would sometimes repeat the great Frances songs about the pleasures of bread and jam.
I got to really love jams when I was a student in Oxford. All those wonderful British jams, especially damson jam. I have to say I've been sorely disappointed trying to get good jams at farmers' markets around D.C. So when I went on vacation at a house with a raspberry patch in the back, I decided to see if I could make great jam.
I found the perfect raspberry jam recipe at food.com. Best of all, it requires only two ingredients: fruit and sugar. No pectin. You can vary the sugar to get more tartness. The jam is very fruity—you can really get the berry flavor.
1. Take three cups of raspberries. Place in large pot and mash and mash and mash. (This is a great job for kids.) Be sure the pot is much larger than the quantity of berries: a six-quart pot is perfect.
2. At the same time, place a large pot of water on to boil for sterilizing jam jars.
3. Heat the raspberry mash on the stove, stirring all the while. When the mash boils, let it boil for two minutes while stirring.
4. Add two cups of sugar. (If you like it more sweet, then add a total of three cups of sugar, but no more.)
5. Bring to boil again, stirring all the time. Boil for two minutes.
6. Remove from stove and mix with electric hand mixer for four minutes.
7. Pour into sterilized jars and close promptly. Let cool and place in the refrigerator.
One last point about jam. A lot of people worry about botulism, because you are creating your own fruit preserve. Forget it. Botulism requires an alkaline environment. The acidity of berry jams and the sugar level are not conducive to the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Botulism is a worry with preserved alkaline vegetables such as green beans—not berry jams. Sterilizing jars is to kill mold spores, not C. botulinum. Don't worry about killing yourself with your jam.
So make this great, fruity jam and sing along with one of Frances's ditties.
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