8/2/13

Raspberry Huckleberry Freezer Jam

Yesterday, I hopped out of bed early, packed up my baby, and headed up to Bear Lake to pick huckleberries with my parents. At one point, I questioned what on earth I was doing to travel so far so early just for some berries. But there was no way I was going to miss huckleberry picking. And I didn't regret a single minute of it!

When we were growing up, huckleberry picking was usually an annual event. The berries aren't on for too long, so you have to take advantage. Some years are better than others. This year didn't seem too bad to me, but my dad kept muttering that there weren't very many. I think the hot summers are hard on the berries.

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It was so refreshing being up in the cool mountain air. I loved listening to the sound of the wind blowing through the pines.

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I love this time of year in the valley because the berries are out. Raspberries, too. Raspberry Days are even this weekend! There was a time in my life that I really dreaded this time of year though, and I know my sisters and most kids from Bear Lake can relate.

I started picking raspberries on my 12th birthday. I'm not sure when my sisters started, possibly when they were younger. We would pick raspberries in the summer to earn money for school clothes. Each of us has our own battle tales about having to get up in the dark morning hours, cram into cars with other pickers, and get to the raspberry fields just as the sun was coming up. Oy. Such hard work for such little kids! Good work, though. Gives you a thick hide, if you know what I mean.

The weird thing is, I miss it now. Granted I wouldn't do it every day, but I do miss the smell of the raspberries, the quiet and simple work of picking the beauties, and working outside. Nothing would beat being in the row next to your best friend so you could chat the time away while you picked. Off in the distance you could often hear the boats and wave runners on the lake, and the traffic driving around Garden City.

But the best, the absolute best, was getting to sneak a few berries while you picked. Bites of heaven, I tell you.

When I met up with my parents to pick huckleberries, my mom gave me some raspberries from a friend's garden. One whiff of those things took me back to my teenage years, having red-stained, sticky fingers, and muddy shoes.

Other than eating them plain or with milk and sugar, I love to use them to make jam. My mom suggested that I could make raspberry huckleberry jam, so here we are. I am an extreme novice with canning and don't have my down gear, so I like to make freezer jam. Plus, I really prefer the no-cook method and the fresh flavor that it gives the jam.

Did I mention how easy freezer jam is? It's as easy as stirring and putting the mixture into containers. It's easier than making cookies. Don't be intimidated!

Please excuse the extreme amount of pictures...I just can't help myself. Berries are so beautiful!

Raspberry Huckleberry Freezer Jam
makes about 8 cups
print this recipe

3 1/2 cups mashed raspberries (about 7 cups whole berries)
1 cup whole huckleberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 box MCP pectin
4 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup

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Yes, I live in an old house with old pink and gold countertops. I love them!

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Combine the mashed raspberries and huckleberries into a bowl. Don't mash the huckleberries.

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Add the lemon juice and stir until combined.

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My mom prefers MCP pectin. It worked really well compared to the off brand I used last year.

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Gradually add the pectin, stirring well. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes. That's as hard as the recipe is, I promise! I even forgot to stir it a couple of times and mine turned out just fine. After the mixture has sat for 30 minutes, add the corn syrup and mix well.

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Mix in the sugar in batches, stirring after each addition. Full disclosure: I died a little each time I added sugar. It's just so much sugar to add to such perfect fruit! Last fall I tried using low sugar with peach freezer jam and it just didn't set up as well. I am on the search for the perfect low sugar and fruit combination. I will post it when I find it! But for now, maybe look away while you add all the sugar. Maybe that will help.

After you've added all the sugar, keep stirring until it is all dissolved.

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Scoop into containers, leaving 1/2 inch space from the top to allow room for expanding when it's frozen. I like to use jars but you can also use tupperware containers.

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Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours for the jam to set. After that, you can either transfer it to the fridge where it keeps up to six weeks or the freezer where it keeps up to a year. When thawing, just pop it in the fridge.

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It is delicious on toast or english muffins. But you really should try my personal favorite, which is mixing it into plain greek yogurt. Amazing and so simple!

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-Candice

3 comments:

  1. Thanks, Candice! I just googled raspberry huckleberry jam because we JUST WENT raspberry picking this morning, and I was relating my war stories to my friend. I'm going to try with blueberries, but it won't be the same.... :-)

    Tracy (yes, the Tracy from Paris)

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  3. Where in Bear Lake can you pick? Huckleberries have been a family tradition as long as I can remember but now that I'm in Logan I haven't been able to for a long time!

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