Raspberry Jam from England to Texas

raspberries in yellow I visited the UK for the third time when I was fourteen (and actually old enough to remember) and fell in love with nearly everything. We went to Stonehenge and Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. We saw a bunch of rubbly castles in Scotland. I saw fantastic museums and gorgeous landscapes, but one of the most special things for me was having a real afternoon tea at the National Gallery. Feeling very British, we ate clotted cream on scones with proper English tea. It was there that I discovered the best thing about a real afternoon tea: the perfect raspberry jam that sat before me, chilled slightly, with a tiny spoon to spread it on my scone. It tasted exactly like ripe raspberries in the middle of summer–sweet with barely a hint of tartness. The ingredients list showed equal parts raspberries and sugar, a far cry from any jam I’d had before in Texas, laden with preservatives and sweeteners. Enchanted, I bought a jar and it was empty before we reached home.

Now, two years later, I was flipping through our ancient copy of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (for reasons now forgotten) and among instructions on how to prepare a thirteen course meal with no servants and how to cook various dishes I had no intention of eating, I found a recipe for raspberry jam. It looked simple enough, and had the golden 50:50 ratio of raspberries and sugar that the original jam did. I had experience canning from summers spent at my grandmother’s house making preserves and butters with the fruit from the trees in her backyard. When she called and asked if I wanted to help her make strawberry jam one weekend, I told her all about the raspberry jam recipe and we decided to make both.

To make a long story short, the strawberry jam I helped with was not the culinary masterpiece we hoped for. It also had raspberry heart jam blueberries, raspberries and some chopped apples but it didn’t cook quite right, and halfway through it bubbled over and all over the stove. The next day while I slept in, my grandmother made it correctly, and it is delicious. But the raspberry jam is heaven. It tastes exactly like the jam I had at tea in the National Gallery in London, and more, because I know I made it all by myself. The recipe originally called for 1/4 pint currant juice for flavor, and we bought some black cherry juice concentrate but I decided not to use it, to preserve the pure raspberry flavor. It also gave measurements in weight, e.g., one pound of raspberries to one pound of sugar, but we used volume and it tastes lovely.

This jam is wonderful warm over ice cream, on toast, or on scones eaten with afternoon tea.

RASPBERRY JAM from Mrs. Beeton

CAA Contributor Elizabeth Bowie is 16 years old and a rising junior at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy of Austin, where she is a staff writer for The Liberator, national award-winning high school newspaper. She is a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and lover of all things literary, glittery and artsy.

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