“Wow. This jam is amazing. It’s so fruity and not too sweet.”
Jean examined the jar of strawberry jam.
“Would it be OK if I helped myself to a bit more?”
We were sitting at the kitchen table indulging in a jam tasting session. I’d discovered that Jean eats toast and jam for breakfast. So we thought that she might like some homemade jam as a present. Precious stuff, just for family and best friends.
Once you’ve tasted homemade jam there’s no going back to the shop stuff. Unless you are a genuine hair shirter. So when Jean left with her jam we included a promise that we’d set aside a jar for her out of each new batch that we made. She did sterling work on the cottage cleaning marathon after all.
I’m delighted with this recipe for strawberry jam. It’s a soft set continental style jam with pretty chunks of strawberry that are packed with flavour. Danny and I don’t like our jam to be too sweet and dislike the taste of jam sugar – preferring to use ordinary granulated sugar. As strawberries are low in pectin I used freshly squeezed lemon juice to achieve the set. You don’t taste lemon – just strawberries with knobs on.
You need firm strawberries for this recipe and if you live in the UK, English strawberries are a must. Imported strawberries just don’t have the same flavour.
Strawberry jam recipe
1200g of strawberries
800g of granulated sugar
The juice of 400g of lemons (sieved)
The strawberries need to be dry so if they need a wash leave them to dry on some kitchen roll or clean tea towel.
The night before you want to make the jam hull the dry strawberries and leaving the small ones whole, halve or quarter the rest depending on size. Place the strawberries in layers in a large non metallic bowl covering each layer with sugar, ending with a layer of sugar. Leave overnight.
The next day put a saucer in the freezer for testing for set. Transfer the strawberries, juice and sugar to a large heavy bottomed saucepan or ideally a maslin pan. Heat the sugar and strawberries gently, stirring every now and then until you are certain that the sugar has dissolved completely.
Add the lemon juice and stir. Taste the juice in the pan and if you would like a sweeter jam add up to 200g of granulated sugar incrementally. If you add more sugar it will set more quickly and give a firmer set overall. If you do add sugar, stir very carefully to make sure that all sugar is dissolved before boiling the jam.
When the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat. Our cooker knobs run from 1-9 and I used the setting 8.
Let the jam boil hard for ten minutes and then remove from the heat and test for set and the saucer from the freezer. If your finger doesn’t make a crinkly mark in the jam put the saucepan back on the heat and test for set every 5 minutes (mine took another 10 mins to set). Keep stirring regularly to avoid the jam burning.
When you have achieved a set let the saucepan rest on the oven for 15 minutes to avoid all the strawberries rising to the top of the jars.
Ladle into hot sterilised jars using a preserving funnel, seal and label when cold. Store in a dark, dry place.
This jam will keep for at least 6 months. Refrigerate when opened. This recipe yielded 3 x 1lb (450g) jars and a small jar.
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