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Aug 25, 2011 12:08 PM

Food mill for raspberry jam recipe: necessary?

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??

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  1. 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. 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

        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. 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.

        4 Replies
        1. re: odkaty

          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

            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

              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. re: oldunc

              two weeks ago I saw that the kid was almost out of the strawberry jam I'd made for him-probably because booboosh was eating it every morning for breakfast on buttered toast. decided to make them another batch at their house but this time strawberry/raspberry/blueberry. no food mill there and we're not fond of seeds. they have a few sizes of sieves and it was easy enough to spatula it through with good results and minimal loss of useable pulp.

          2. 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

              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

                Somehow raspberry jam is just more real with the seeds.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  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

                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

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

              3. 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

                  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

                    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...