Friday, 20 November 2015

Strawberry Jam

 Recently, my friend Helena, purchased a considerable quantity of the most beautiful and top quality strawberries for a function. Fortunately for me, the leftover strawberries were delivered to me in the hope that I might be able to use them. We both hate to see good produce go to waste, some were made into icecream and the rest into jam.

The jam of my childhood was plum, thanks to a neighbour's bountiful tree. Apricot was next but only if we were given apricots by my Aunty Joan, the bounty of her tree varied from year to year unlike the neighbour's plum tree. Homemade strawberry jam was a special treat. My older self still thinks it so and would add raspberry to the list.

I recall the simple Sunday evening dessert of bread, jam and cream and I still enjoy it. A thickish slice of fresh sourdough, topped with luscious strawberry jam and a generous dollop of pure cream is an absolute delight.

As are scones with jam and cream. Once again a very special treat, usually made for afternoon tea and only when visitors were coming.

Strawberry jam is not something that I make very often as I have never managed to grow enough to eat them fresh and to make jam. It can be quite costly to purchase strawberries for jam making unless you manage to happen on a special deal or a berry farm or just want the luscious treat and hang the expense!

Jam making is not complicated, the process is much the same for all fruit. It is important that the fruit has sufficient pectin and acid to form a gel and that the jam is bottled in sterilised jars and sealed to prevent the development of mould.

How to Make Jam

Wash, hull and chop straberries. Weigh fruit. As a general guide you can allow the same weight of sugar as you have fruit. I used 2 kg of prepared fruit. (the remainder became icecream)

Place prepared fruit in a pan. I like to use a wide pan or make smaller batches. It is best if the jam cooks quickly so as the colour remains bright and the flavour fresh.

Cook over low heat until fruit start to soften, stir/mash fruit with a spoon.

As it cooks the strawberries will release juice. This is a good time to test for pectin. If the fruit has insufficient pectin the jam will not gel and you will need to use some commercial pectin/Jamsetta.

Test for Pectin

Place a teaspoon or two of fruit pulp in a glass/bowl and allow to cool.

Pour some methylated spirits over the fruit pulp, stir.

Allow to stand for a minute or two and then check the clot of fruit puree. If there is sufficient pectin the clot will will be in a large piece. If there are lots of little clots then you will need to add pectin.

Add warmed sugar and citric acid/lemon juice.

Bring to boil and simmer. Remove any scum that forms. This stage will take 10 -20 minutes.

Test for gel. If gel is unsatisfactory continue cooking for a few more minutes and test again.

Testing for Gel

Place a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate, I put two or three small plate in the freezer when I start the jam so that they are really cold. Place in the fridge to quickly cool the jam.

Run the end of a spoon through the jam, if it stays seperate it will have a satisfactory gel. The surface will also look a bit wrinkly if you tilt it.

Allow jam to cool slightly.

Pour into sterilised jars. I like to use a jam funnel. Seal with Kleerview covers and label.

Strawberry Jam
1 kg strawberries
1 kg sugar
Juice of 2 lemons or 1 teaspoon citric acid
Have on hand
1 pkt Jamsetta
Kleerview / cellophane covers
Methylated spirits

Clean the jars and heat to sterilise in the oven at 100C.

Place strawberries in a large saucepan, and stir gently over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Optional -Measure the fruit mixture, and allow 1 cup sugar to each cup of fruit pulp. 

Return the fruit mixture and sugar to the pan. Add the juice/citric acid and stir over the heat, without boiling until the sugar is dissolved.

Bring to the boil, and boil uncovered without stirring for about 15 to 20 minutes or until jam gels when tested.

Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal when cold.
Makes between 3-4 jars

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