Saturday, July 14, 2007

Raspberry Jam III

OK, Ol' Myrt knows she promised to tell more about her Gramma Myrtle’s raspberry jam recipe – and today is the day. Little did I know this series of raspberry jam blog entries would bring back so many good memories in the minds of her beloved readers.

From: Kalli
I returned home to find a great set of Myrt emails in my inbox and I was amazed to find the wonderful story on raspberry jam. It came at the perfect time, my mom and I had just finished putting up 3 flats of fresh raspberries into the most fabulous jam.

It is our summer tradition to make raspberry jam, too. We talked about the way she and her mother made jam, using fresh berries picked by my mom in the Puyallup Valley. We talked about how my mom and her sister took over jam making duties after their mother passed away in 1980. And now talked what her sister did differently when she made the jam. It was a bittersweet jam-making day, as my mom's sister died just a few months ago of cancer. Many jars were ladled through tears. We felt a sense of balance, though, as we brought a new family member into the jam-making circle. My just-turned 3 year old son was in charge of "squishing" the berries in the ricer.

Not much has changed in our jam-making but the people doing the job. We use my grandmother's ricer, the funny old ladle that is used solely for jam making, and the same scrappy towels over the counter to catch the drips. And of course, the secret recipe for the best raspberry jam -- off the back of the Certo box!
Thanks for sharing your memories. I am going to write mine down as well. It wasn't until I read your email that I realized how much history was infused in our simple task of making jam.

Indeed, dear readers, squishing the berries is a major part of the process. Ol' Myrt uses a potato masher like her Gramma Myrtle, and others work hard to strain the raspberry seeds. I don’t see a point in attempting to crush the berries by hand, because they are cold from the fridge and cause pdiscomfort in arthritic hands.

So just what is CERTO?
Certo is the brand name of pectin used as a thickening agent used in jam and jelly making recipes. When Ol’ Myrt went to WikiPedia I found that pectin is derived from apples or citrus peels. In fact the Wiki entry stated that “at first pectin was sold as a liquid extract, nowadays pectin is used as dried powder that is easier to store and handle than a liquid.” With all due respect, Ol' Myrt begs to differ, and actually composed the following addition to the Wiki entry for the word pectin:
“In July 2007 it was still possible to purchase liquid fruit pectin from US & Canada grocery stores under the "Certo" brand label. Many experienced jam & jelly-making enthusiasts prefer the old-fashioned syrup to the powdered form, probably because they remember their grandmothers using this brand during the 1950s.
That old-style Certo liquid pectin came in small brown glass bottles made with imprints in the glass itself to indicate the ½ bottle mark. This proves important during the jam-making process where 4 ½ cups of crushed raspberries, 6 ½ cups of sugar and ½ bottle of Certo- brand liquid pectin was a typical recipe. The famous Certo label recipes that were once enclosed under the label of the bottle, are still included with the purchase of Certo liquid pectin, that now comes in a box with two pre-measured pouches. Reference: KraftFoods, Canada.

The manufacturer explains there are several types of CERTO:
  • Certo Liquid - Pasteurized solution of refined pectin in 2 pouches. Shorter preparation time. Shelf life: 18 months. (This is the type O' Myrt uses.)

  • Certo Crystals - Balanced formula of powdered pectin which has a longer shelf life, 36 months.

  • Certo Light Crystals - Refined powdered pectin with more acid to tolerate reduced sugar. For jams with less sugar and more fruit. Shelf-life: 24 months.

  • NOTE: The Certo Hotline number is still the same 1-800-268-6038, but the hours have been extended for better service across Canada. From June to September you can call for more recipes or helpful information Monday - Friday, 9am to 9pm and Saturday, 9am-2pm Eastern Standard Time. Source:

  • NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The "shelf life" mentioned above means the shelf life of the CERTO, not of the jams and jellies it is used to thicken.

And what about the RECIPES on the label?Now said recipes are available online, and on a long page, with tiny type, as pictured at the top of this blog entry.
MORE NEXT WEEK about the process of making the jam. I'm off to take the ferry to Orcas Island with 41 family members. Dad had a rough night, but he wouldn't miss this trip for the world.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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