As the end of the summer arrived, it dawned upon me that the season of fresh strawberries was fast drawing to a close. Sad times indeed.
I thought it would be a good idea to make fresh strawberry jam from scratch and capture some of the flavours of summer for later on in the year.
However, I had never made jam before, nor did I have any of the special ‘preserving sugar’ that contains pectin that should ensure that your jam will set. So, what did people do before pectin? Research was needed in order to dig out a recipe that would be easy for me (and hopefully you too, dear reader) and that did not require overly specialist equipment either.
The result of a bit of research established that my best substitute would be some lemon juice and otherwise, all I would actually need would be jam jars and equal amounts of fresh strawberries and white sugar-easy peasy!
Quite simply, this is the ‘berry’ best jam recipe out there (pardon the pun!) and I believe could be used for pretty much any other berry, like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, loganberries, etc… The result is delicious jam better than anything that can be pre-bought. Enjoy!
1kg white sugar
the juice of half a lemon
(This recipe yielded about four 250g jars that were simply recycled jam jars that we had at home. Obviously, if you use smaller/bigger jars you will need more/less.)
The MOST IMPORTANT thing to do to stop your precious jam from spoiling is to sterilise the jam jars.
First wash the jars in soapy water and rinse in clean warm water.
Place them upside-down to dry and sterilise on a rack in an oven set to 140C/275F.
A useful tip is to place a saucer into the freezer to chill – this will help test the setting point of the jam.
Wash and remove stems from strawberries and puree them or mash the up depending on the consistency of jam you like. I left mine chopped into quarters so that you would still have bits of whole strawberry in the jam. If you prefer you can puree the mixture or even sieve it if you don’t like the pips.
Add strawberry mixture to a large pot (preferably a specialist jam pan- I borrowed mine from a kind neighbour) and bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring often. Turn heat up to medium high and add the juice of half of a lemon. Let the strawberries boil for 5 more minutes. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Bring the strawberries up to the boil then boil hard until the jam reaches setting point. Check the setting point every ten minutes, although it may take up to half an hour to reach setting point.To test the setting point, remove the pan from the heat. Take your saucer from the freezer and place a drop of jam onto the cold plate. After a few seconds push the jam with your finger.If the jam surface wrinkles then it has reached setting point and is ready. If it slides about as a liquid, then it hasn’t reached setting point and should be returned to the heat and boiled for a few more minutes before testing again.
When setting point has been reached, turn off the heat. Use a ladle to skim off any white frothy ‘scum’ on the surface of the jam with a large spoon- this will make sure you end up with lovely clear, not cloudy, jam.
Carefully remove the sterilised jars from the oven- try to avoid touching the insides of the jars with the oven gloves, which might introduce bacteria which might spoil the jam.
Ladle the jam into the sterilised jars. Cover the top surface of the jam in each jar with parchment paper discs that have been cut to size (these can be shopbought) – they should cover the entire surface of the jam. Press the wax disc down to create a complete seal.
Cover with a lid while still hot, label and store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year.