Summertime, when I was little, always included my grandmother's backyard. Mom planted snapdragons while my sister and I shrieked in the spray from the sprinkler. The roses swayed against their arbor and the striped awning on the balcony, where grandma stood, supervising, flapped in the wind. At the very bottom of the yard there were raspberries. Though their brambles deterred us, we could usually find a couple of handfuls of berries within easy reach. On the rare occasion that any of the fruit made it back up the hill with us, we would eat them at the kitchen table out of ramekins, snowy with powdered sugar and doused with cream or half-and-half, whatever Grandma happened to have on hand.
It's probably for the best that we ate so many berries right off of the brambles. Raspberries are perhaps the most ephemeral fruit of summertime. Pick them one day and by the next the weight of the berries on top threaten to crush the ones below. They're as fleeting as a memory and, as a result, they jam up effortlessly.
"One bite is fruit-forward, the next more floral."
Raspberry and rose are a natural combination, and not just in grandma's yard. Rather than thinking this of this as a straight one-to-one pairing, the result is a jam with a layered profile. One bite is fruit-forward, the next more floral. The tartness of the berries tempers out the rose, which prevents the jam from having a soapy flavor. While some recipes use rosewater to impart that floweriness, I use rose tea from my local Asian grocery. I find that the petals, pinched from their leaves, add a lovely body to the jam. The raspberries give off plenty of juice, in which the electric purple of the dried petals slump and soften. You might not even notice them in the finished jam, but they impart a rosy flavor without the risk of overpowering the fruit and, since this is a jam without added pectin, they prevent the finished product from feeling too syrupy.
The result is intensely red jam with a balanced sweet, tart, and floral profile. Since it is, in the best of ways, grandmotherly, I like to eat it with unobtrusive, sturdy baked goods that still have a soft spot. It's perfect on biscuits or scones, next to a cup of black tea, and would make a sweet addition to the imprint of a thumbprint cookie.
About the Author: Emily Teel is a loud-talking food writer and recipe developer in Philadelphia, where she's the food columnist for Grid Magazine. She recently returned from Parma, Italy, where she completed a Master of Arts in Food Culture and Communications at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. A 2011 Legacy Award Winner with the women's culinary organization Les Dames D'Escoffier International, she's passionate about food and committed to the idea that everyone deserves access to meals that are both nourishing and satisfying. Follow along on twitter @brotherly_grub and see more of her work at EmilyTeel.com