Probably 25 years ago, my mother mentioned to her boss that she liked raspberries. Her boss brought her 6 sticks, and told her to stick them in the ground, which she did. The raspberries grew like nuts, and spread along the back of our house, and then the side, and tried to creep around to the front, but that’s when I started trying to beat them back. They bear a crop every spring and fall. It is not unusual for us to pick 2-3 large bowls every day. Two of these bowls will fill up a gallon bag. A gallon bag will produce at least 4 cups of juice, which is enough for a batch of jelly. A batch of jelly makes about 8 half pint jars. So during a year, these raspberries can produce enough raspberries for probably 160 jars of jelly.
When Mom first planted these things, she would make raspberry jam. It tasted great, but I wouldn’t eat it because the seeds drive me nuts. So she started cooking and straining the raspberries, to get the seeds out and make jelly. It was tedious, but the jelly was divine.
Years and lots of jars of jelly later, Mom stopped making jelly, because she’s getting older and it’s kind of a pain in the butt. But a lot of people had gotten hooked on her jelly, so I got her to show me how, and I took over. When I found out what all she went through to strain the raspberries, I was pretty sure I didn’t love anyone enough to make them raspberry jelly.
Which started my search for a better way. I tried a juicer – one of those things that kind of shreds your carrots, and uses centripetal force to throw out the juice – it was a disaster. The raspberry seeds clogged it up, and juice went everywhere, and I despaired. I went back to straining the berries by hand.
Eventually, I found info on a steamer juicer. It’s like a triple boiler – the bottom holds the water, the top holds the fruit, and there’s a middle container to catch the juice that drips down. The steam from the water causes the cells of the fruit to burst, releasing all the delicious juice. And since the juice comes out at about 200 degrees, you can siphon it straight into a jar, ready for canning.
It wasn’t cheap, but I decided to splurge and give it a try. And I’m glad I did. It’s not perfect, and it took a while to get the hang of using it, but the juice – I get so much more juice out of my fruit, and it’s perfect. I won’t say it’s less effort, but I will say it’s less effort per jar of juice, if that makes sense.
So back to the raspberry juice. I probably have about 40 quart jars that I have juiced and canned over the last few years. Every jar can make a batch of jelly. It’s nuts. There’s no way I can give away this much jelly. And I can’t sell it, because my house would never pass cottage law inspections, because of my 2 cats.
I am open to suggestions of what to do with 300+ jars of jelly.
I have also discovered that this thing does a great job on grapes and apples, so I also have some of that bottled and ready to make jelly. The grape is so good, so much better than smuckers. Also, since the idea behind making apple butter is to cook it for a long time for all the moisture to evaporate, I’ve started juicing the apples, and then using the apple pulp to start my apple butter. Works great, I get juice, and it doesn’t take as long to cook.
So I went to work for 2 afternoons, and got all this:
(plus 6 cups apple puree that’s in the freezer.)
If Ball ever starts producing lids again, I’m ready to start making jelly. (Just like so many Covid problems, there has been a canning lid shortage!)