There are few more delightful starts to the day than a spread of good raspberry jam on buttered toast, but like strawberries, raspberries also have some inherent dairy notes which make them especially delicious with cream, yoghurt and soft cheeses.
Just recently I was reminded of an effortlessly simple dessert I ate in Provence, where juicy tart raspberries were set on a glass plate with a scattering of delicate rose geranium flowers and raw sugar. A bowl of thick crème fraiche made it complete. The whole effect was quite lovely and I wondered if the same magic could be created in a jam.
Raspberries have a sweet sour taste yet a fruity, floral, leafy flavour. When ripe, they have an intense perfumed quality that hints at rose. Most rose is used in the form of rosewater but often has a cloying sweetness, reminiscent of your grandma’s floral talcum powder. It needs balancing with sharp, acidic ingredients to temper its floral muskiness so it can be tricky to calculate the right amount. I prefer to use the rose scented leaves of the geranium plant ‘Attar of Roses,’ as the flowers do not hold well in a jam.
The flavour of the raspberries intensifies when macerated and cooked, while the rose geranium leaves add a subtle floral layer. It makes a perfect standing-up-at-the-counter snack served with discs of crispbread, big enough for snapping (I like Peter’s Yard) and Westcombe Dairy fresh Italian-style creamy ricotta, which I buy from The Fine Cheese Company.
Raspberry Jam with Rose Geranium via Crumbs
(Fills 3 x 225g jars)
500g unrefined cane sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
5 or 6 rose geranium leaves
- Pick over the raspberries. Omit rinsing them so that they will keep their fragrance.
- In a preserving pan, combine the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and pour into a ceramic bowl. Cover with a tea towel or a sheet of parchment paper and leave overnight at room temperature.
- The next day, place a saucer with a couple of metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing later.
- Rinse the rose geranium leaves under cold water and pat them dry between two clean kitchen towels. Set them aside while you make the jam.
- Transfer the raspberry mixture to a preserving pan and bring to a boil, skimming off any scum that rises. Cook on a medium to high heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, to prevent the jam from sticking. The mixture should appear glossy, the texture more unified, and the colour darkened.
- To test, turn off the heat and remove one of the teaspoons from the freezer. Carefully take a sample of the jam, replacing the spoon back to the freezer for 3-5 minutes. Touch the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for another minute. Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs. If it runs slowly onto the saucer, and if it has thickened to a spreadable consistency, it is done. If it runs quickly or appears watery, cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring, and test again as necessary.
- When you are satisfied with the set, rub the rose geranium leaves briefly between your fingers to release their oil. Swirl them into the jam and leave to infuse for a minute or two. Taste carefully and either remove the leaves with tongs or leave for another minute or two, keeping in mind the rose geranium flavour will be slightly milder once the jam has cooled.
- Pot in warm, dry sterilised jars, and seal. Stored in a cool place, the jam keeps for 3 months; refrigerate once opened.