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Food mill for raspberry jam recipe: necessary?

rstuart Aug 25, 2011 12:08 PM

I really want to try Christine Ferber's chocolate and raspberry jam recipe. However, it calls for straining the rasberries through a food mill to get rid of most of the seeds. I don't have a food mill and doubt that I will be buying one any time soon. Do any experienced canners have an opinion on this? Will it just be too seedy without the food mill??

  1. inaplasticcup Aug 25, 2011 12:22 PM

    I'm not a canning expert, but I do make my own jam often, some of it with raspberries. And because I happen to like the seeds in my raspberry jam, I am hard pressed to come up with a reason why you, if you also like the seeds, would *have* to mill or strain them.

    1. Caitlin McGrath Aug 25, 2011 12:30 PM

      I do think that that particular recipe would be much more pleasing without the seeds, though I don't mind seeds so much in plain raspberry jam or preserves. It is certainly possible to strain the cooked raspberry-sugar mixture of its seeds without a food mill, if rather more labor; just push it through a sieve with a wooden spoon or spatula, pressing on and stirring the solids to get as much of the pulp through as possible, until you can't get any more out. I've used that method many times for making berry coulis, and it works fine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
        cowboyardee Aug 25, 2011 07:24 PM

        Sieving works just fine. Even easier - give em a few pulses in the blender along with a few tablespoons of water. Then push em through the sieve. Makes pushing them through the sieve easier, leaves less usable matter in the sieve, and the extra water will be quickly cooked out when you go to make the jam.

      2. o
        odkaty Aug 25, 2011 12:34 PM

        I've run through a sieve as in Caitlin's method, and I've left without. Personally, I won't sieve raspberry jame ever again — the seeds don't bother me.

        3 Replies
        1. re: odkaty
          oldunc Aug 25, 2011 06:23 PM

          The sieve method works fine- my preference is a silicon scraper (stiffer than latex) over a wooden spoon. But I would like to put in a word for food mills, hugely useful devices that have become underapreciated- among other things, nearly indispensable for fresh tomato sauces. Also there's a device, French I think- a cone shaped sheet metal sort of sieve with a cone shaped wooden implement for working the food through-I can't remember what they call them, maybe just sieves.

          1. re: oldunc
            greygarious Aug 25, 2011 08:14 PM

            China cap or chinois - there's a thread on it, and definitions vary. There's a screen style and a punched sheet metal style.

            1. re: greygarious
              cowboyardee Aug 25, 2011 09:05 PM

              For straining raspberries of their seeds, a $5 wire mesh strainer that can be found at most grocery and department stores works just fine for much less money.

              BTW, generally a china cap is a conical screen with holes punched in it and a chinois is a super fine conical mesh strainer. There is some variation in construction, but a chinois is almost always finer - actually too fine for raspberries unless you just want raspberry juice.

        2. bushwickgirl Aug 25, 2011 01:01 PM

          So what this all comes down to is, do you prefer seeded jam, or no? A food mill is a very useful kitchen item, for more than removing seeds from berries, but only if you plan to use it. As Caitlin mentioned, a fine wire mesh sieve would work fine, just with a bit more labor.

          I don't own a food mill now, and don't have space for it anyway. So I have seeds in my jam.

          5 Replies
          1. re: bushwickgirl
            rstuart Aug 25, 2011 02:19 PM

            Thanks for the advice. I am far too lazy to strain that much raspberry puree through a strainer; I've done it for raspberry sauce before, and I remember it taking forever. I don't mind seeds, but I intended to make this jam as a gift for other people, rather than for me. Think that I will try it with seeds... if I do, I will report back!
            Thanks for the advice...

            1. re: rstuart
              bushwickgirl Aug 25, 2011 02:29 PM

              Somehow raspberry jam is just more real with the seeds.

              1. re: bushwickgirl
                rstuart Aug 25, 2011 02:40 PM

                True confession; I have never cared much for raspberries in general. Unless they're in cake, of course... or the Baked "Raspberry Breakfast bars". But I can never resist fresh produce, and my freezer is too full for more frozen berries, so jam it is.

            2. re: bushwickgirl
              jen kalb Aug 26, 2011 07:52 AM

              I just used my food mill for tomato sauce and the tomato seeds went through. so make sure your food mill has a fine enough disk or the effort will be futile. I think straining some of the seeds out of rasp jam is worthwhile, but I no reason to get rid of all.

              1. re: jen kalb
                bushwickgirl Aug 26, 2011 07:11 PM

                In every life a few seeds must fall...or something.

            3. m
              MikeG Aug 25, 2011 09:04 PM

              I'm not familiar with that recipe, but myself, I don't like raspberry seeds in anything, especially jam. (The seeds are just the right size to catch like crazy in my teeth.) But more to the point, most food mills are too coarse to catch many raspberry seeds anyway - they really are tiny. A fine sieve actually works much better, in my experience and gives a more intense-flavored end product with better texture than crushing the seeds in a food processor or blender. It doesn't have to be an expensive chinoise or anything, any cheap sieve will work as long as it's fairly fine-meshed.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MikeG
                oldunc Aug 26, 2011 07:26 AM

                A standard Foley food mill comes with three screens (or did a million years ago when mine was bought)- the smallest works perfectly for raspberry seeds. I had a couple of mills before that that were pretty useless- all I remember is that one was made in Portugal (as were my grandparents- there may be terrific Portuguese food mills as well).

                1. re: oldunc
                  MikeG Aug 26, 2011 12:24 PM

                  That's cool, I've never seen a Foley mill with removeable plates. I never did really figure out what they intended the Foley I had for a while to be used for. The holes were smaller than the smallest plate of my current food mill, but still too large to keep back most raspberry seeds...

              2. r
                rainey Aug 26, 2011 07:58 AM

                I have been cooking for 50 years without ever owning a food mill. I don't get the point. Texture is one of the delights of food.

                Even if it is, I would strain the seeds out of raspberry jam too. An ordinary sieve and a silicone spatula will do the job wonderfully. Ladle the fruit in as soon as it breaks down so you're not working with hot sugar.

                4 Replies
                1. re: rainey
                  oldunc Aug 26, 2011 09:47 AM

                  Part of the point is that a food mill gives you the option of leaving texture in the food, and how much. It doesn't really mill(grind) the food, nor does it chop it like a blender- it does pretty much the same as forcing it through a sieve, but with options for the fineness. I'd probably cooked at least 25 years before I got one and could get by without, but it's a great tool.

                  1. re: oldunc
                    rainey Aug 26, 2011 12:28 PM

                    Glad you've got one. I think I'll cook my next 50 years without. ;>

                    I think I only might have used one once or twice and then a ricer with a variety of extrusion plates stood in just fine.

                  2. re: rainey
                    MikeG Aug 26, 2011 12:26 PM

                    Texture is one of the delights of food.

                    I'm not saying you want to puree everything to mush, but isn't "smooth" a valid texture, too? I don't use my food mill all that often, but I'd miss not having one at all.

                    1. re: MikeG
                      twyst Sep 6, 2011 08:48 AM

                      agreed, I had no idea how useful a food mill would actually be until I started using one about a year ago. My food mill has been worth the $50 I paid for it for mashed potatoes alone, it allows you to make them so light and airy!

                  3. LNG212 Aug 26, 2011 09:01 AM

                    I've not made raspberry jam, but I just made Raspberry Syrup. I don't have a food mill either and wasn't about to go buy one (small kitchen). I used a wire mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth over it and a silicone spatula. Worked perfectly and got all the seeds out. Not hard at all. The syrup is smooth and glossy and wonderful.

                    1. a
                      AGM_Cape_Cod Aug 26, 2011 12:41 PM

                      I make the chocolate raspberry jam from the Christine Ferber book. I strain the seeds out for this recipe. The raspberry is a subtle flavor in the chocolate and I think that seeds would detract from that subtlety. If I am working with fresh berries I use the food mill attachment for my Kitchen Aid. With frozen berries I puree them in the blender and then push them with a whisk through my chinois.
                      Either way this is a really wonderful recipe. I had a friend tell me they opened it and kept standing in the fridge door with a spoon. I use the 3 ounce jars. Also it is fabulous as a filling for cookies.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
                        rainey Aug 26, 2011 02:35 PM

                        I love those small jars. You can go through whatever it is quickly and open a new jar when you need to. I much prefer that to having something half eaten lingering.

                        1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
                          rstuart Aug 28, 2011 03:17 PM

                          Glad to hear it was successful.. still haven't gotten around to it yet! It does look wonderful.. I always get confused by the pint measurement..better with cups, mLs, or weights! It calls for 3 pints fresh raspberries, which I assume is 6 cups raspberries..

                          1. re: rstuart
                            magiesmom Aug 28, 2011 03:22 PM


                            1. re: magiesmom
                              rstuart Sep 3, 2011 03:16 PM

                              Finally made it! I sieved about 3/4 of the raspberries to get rid of seeds.. I lost my patience at that point. I also used the little 125mL jars, as I intend to give it as gifts. It took a while to set (and boiling chocolate and raspberry flew all over my kitchen.. but that's hardly a surprise! ), but judging from the spoonful I tried, it's delicious. I used President's Choice Bittersweet chocolate, a supermarket brand here in Canada that I've always had success with..thanks to everyone for their help!

                              1. re: rstuart
                                rainey Sep 3, 2011 06:06 PM

                                Good to hear that the flavor made your efforts worthwhile. I've been looking at the banana and chocolate.

                                1. re: rstuart
                                  oldunc Sep 4, 2011 07:46 AM

                                  Which kind of gets us back to the food mill question- sieving gets really tedious in any quantity; a food mill would do the same job in a few seconds.

                                  1. re: oldunc
                                    rstuart Sep 4, 2011 06:53 PM

                                    Yes.. I did lose my will to live after about half an hour! For me, it's not worth it right now, but I can see how it would be useful if I made this more often.. was else are food mills useful for?
                                    She also has a banana and chocolate recipe? I've got to find that cookbook..

                                    1. re: rstuart
                                      rainey Sep 4, 2011 08:07 PM

                                      Yup! No food mill required. ;>

                                      • 2 1/4 lb bananas
                                      • 3 3/4 c sugar
                                      • 9 oz chocolate
                                      • 7 oz water
                                      • juice of a lemon

                                      Break the banana into small pieces. Otherwise the same as the raspberry recipe.

                                      1. re: rainey
                                        rstuart Sep 6, 2011 08:41 AM

                                        Wow... that looks great. ANd you just treat it like regular jam, do the boiling water bath, and it will last in jars?!?!?

                                        1. re: rstuart
                                          rainey Sep 6, 2011 09:34 AM

                                          Actually, it's from Christine Ferbers' "Mes Confitures". The OP is doing the raspberry and chocolate version and I added the proportions from a second recipe from the cookbook.

                                          If I remember correctly (I may not; best to consult a copy of the cookbook) you cook the fruit and sugar, remove it to a ceramic bowl overnight and then continue as for a conventional preserve including a water bath to make it safe to store.

                                          I haven't done it yet myself. I've been concentrating on things that rely on soft summer fruit and deferring the things that can be done later in the year from fruit that's still available.

                                          1. re: rainey
                                            rstuart Sep 7, 2011 01:39 PM

                                            I will have to try it.. once I've finished canning the pears and peaches in my fridge. Hope that the library has a copy of the cookbook; I am on a strict no new cookbooks diet until Christmas...

                                            1. re: rstuart
                                              rstuart Sep 7, 2011 06:40 PM

                                              OH HAPPY DAY. I just put it on hold...

                                      2. re: rstuart
                                        oldunc Sep 6, 2011 10:00 AM

                                        Without going into a full scale ad campaign- a food mill is good for anything that cooks soft that you want to remove stems or seeds from- what I use it most for is fresh tomato sauces; halve tomatoes and cook in a covered pan for about 10 min, run through mill, and you got it. You can add such things as sauteed onion and garlic, basil etc. before cooking. You can go anywhere you like with it after milling- the tomatoes will already be cooked. It's also good for pureeing soft fruits and vegetables and still leaving some texture- easier to control than partial pureeing in a blender or food processor.

                                        1. re: rstuart
                                          greygarious Sep 8, 2011 08:53 PM

                                          My food mill has no interchangeable disks and the holes are large enough that it can't be used to seed tomato puree or raspberries. But it's fine for making mashed potatoes and my go-to utensil for making homemade applesauce. Just halve or quarter the fruit, cook, and mill. The food mill removes the seeds and skin but allows the sauce to retain all that good flavor and color from the skins.

                                          According to the Cooks Illustrated people, most of the flavor in tomatoes is in the gel, or "snot", as I heard it called. Many people discard the snot with the seeds. A fine mesh food mill lets you retain the snot and separate out the seeds.

                              2. h
                                HillJ Sep 6, 2011 05:07 PM

                                I'm not a fan of the food mill for raspberry jams. If you use a wide sieve in small batches the process to remove the seeds will go faster and easier for you. Most people make the mistake of pouring too much jam in the sieve at a time and let the mash cool a bit before you start. Good luck!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: HillJ
                                  oldunc Sep 6, 2011 06:14 PM

                                  So why not the food mill? One batch, at least a couple of cups at a time, works while jam is hot, when it is more liquid and will go through more easily, clears itself- I think the problem is that there are a lot of wanky food mills out there- a well made mill where the parts fit tightly just does this kind of thing more easily and neatly than anything else.

                                  1. re: oldunc
                                    HillJ Sep 6, 2011 06:21 PM

                                    I agree wanky food mills 1, sometimes jam making inexperience 2, and three if you don't like seeds then why bother with crushed seeds. Sieve is my preference when I don't want seeds.

                                    1. re: HillJ
                                      oldunc Sep 6, 2011 07:15 PM

                                      Crushed seeds? SERIOUSLY wanky food mills.

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