|summer strawberry jam|
I have often made chutneys and other savoury preserves. I have even made fruit compote but I had never made strawberry jam before. It was surprisingly simple and the results delicious.
I suppose I was put off making jam because I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that you need something called pectin, which is the setting agent. Some fruits are naturally high in pectin (particularly those that are more acidic). Since strawberries are sweet rather than sour, they need an extra helping of added pectin to help the jam set. Adding lemon juice, which also helps to counterbalance the sweetness of strawberries, boosts the pectin, but I also used a liquid pectin that I had bought in my local whole food store, EARTH natural foods in Kentish Town. I wasn't able to get hold of any jam sugar (which does contain pectin) but I did use preserving sugar. These are very large granules of sugar, which are supposed to give the finished jam a clearer texture.
This is Thane Prince's recipe from her fabulous book, Ham, pickles + jam.
1kg ripe small strawberries
1kg preserving sugar (or white granulated sugar)
juice of 1 fresh lemon (or 2 tsp citric acid)
125ml liquid pectin
- Hull the strawberries and give them a quick rinse. Pat dry and set aside in a large stainless steel pan. Leave them whole. If you have a mixture of large and small strawberries, then mash the larger ones up but keep the small ones whole.
- Combine the sugar with the lemon juice and sprinkle over the berries so that they are all covered. Leave for at least 2 hours or overnight. Stir occasionally as the strawberries will start to release some of their liquid. I have also read that the preserving sugar also helps to keep the intense colour of the strawberries intact.
- Heat the pan over a low heat, stirring until all the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Add the pectin and stir to combine.
- Bring the pan to the boil and boil for about 5 minutes on a high heat. Be careful as this mixture will be extremely hot and can burn your skin if it splashes on you! The jam should start to thicken.
- If the jam gives off a scum then it is worth skimming this off before removing from the heat.
- Remove from the heat and test to see if the jam has reached its setting point. To test for the setting point, drop a small amount of the jammy liquid on to a cold plate. (Keep a plate in the fridge or freezer). After a couple of minutes, if the jam has reached setting point, a skin will start to form. if you shake the plate, the jam should "wrinkle".
- If the setting point has not been reached, return the jam to the boil and boil rapidly for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and test again. Repeat as necessary.
- Set aside to cool for about 30 minutes before putting in hot, sterilised jars and seal. The jam will thicken a little as it cools and the whole strawberries will remain suspended within the jam rather than either sinking to the bottom or rising to the top.
- I sterilise the jars by washing in very hot, soapy water. I rinse them and then put them on a baking tray in the oven at 160C / Gas Mark 3 to dry for about 15 minutes.
- Label the jars and leave in a cool, dark place. They should be good for about 6 months.