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Strawberry Jam Recipe
Strawberry Jam Recipe
Strawberry Jam Recipe
Strawberry Jam Recipe
Strawberry Jam Recipe
Strawberry Jam Recipe

Strawberry Jam Recipe

Strawberries have always been an intrinsic part of our October and November life on the farm. Some years we’ve grown enough to sell, jam and feast on, others only enough to gather surreptitiously and tell no-one else about, lest we be short of a few jars of jam before the next season rolls in.

There’s great satisfaction in jam-making - a huge pot of ruby syrup bubbles on the stove, filling the house with a rich jammy aroma. Sometimes it bubbles right over, leaving a sticky mess to clear up later. And finally the achievement of a neat row of filled jars, sealed and cooling on the counter.

Our family recipe for strawberry jam is very simple with no tricks of the trade other than good strawberries to start with. I’ve never used packet pectin to set the jam, adding lemon juice instead. Lemons have plenty of pectin to make up for the low levels present in ripe strawberries. Our jam tends to be jewel-like and slightly runny, perfect for drizzling on yoghurt or porridge. If you like your jam to set fully you may need to go the pectin route.

You will need to wash and prepare the strawberries the day before you plan to make jam.

The Recipe

1 kg strawberries
750g white sugar
2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more
(you can easily double the above quantities if you have a big enough pan and plenty of fruit)

Dunk the strawberries briefly in a bowl of water to get rid of any sand or dirt, which will sink to the bottom. Lift them out into a colander and then allow to dry in one layer on a clean dishcloth. They must be dry before you start or the water will dilute the natural pectin and it will take forever to set.

Chop the berries in half or quarters depending on the size. When you have 1 kg of chopped berries, put them into a large stainless steel (or enamel) pan and pour over the sugar. Give the pan a shake to let the sugar get cosy with the berries. Leave the covered pan in a cool place or fridge overnight. (The soaking in sugar overnight helps the soft fruit retain its shape in the finished jam instead of dissolving to a mush as it cooks)

Next morning the berries will have given out a beautiful red syrup and are ready to cook. Get your jars and lids ready and sterilized before you start cooking.

Bring the jam gently to simmering point over a low heat. Stir several times to make sure the sugar isn’t stuck on the bottom. Only when all the sugar has dissolved, raise the heat. Add the lemon juice (for its pectin – the amount to use depends on the fruit – use too little and it won’t set - the riper the berries the more lemon juice you need ).

Bring the jam to a brisk bubble. Watch it like a hawk – at this point it loves to bubble right up and over the edge of the pot, to flood the stove top with sticky red syrup. This is why you need a really big pan. Just take the pan off the heat briefly until the bubbles subside again. You may need to do this a few times until it settles into a steady, controlled bubble. Stir occasionally but not too often.

Let it boil for 20-30 minutes, then test it for set. To do this I chill a small plate in the fridge, then put a few drops of jam on it. When it’s cooled, gently touch a fingertip to it and pull away. If the jam tends to stretch with your finger to form a syrup string then it’s ready to set. Or run a finger nail through the drop of jam – if it runs straight back to fill the trail it needs more cooking, if the trail remains clear, it’s at setting point. Test at 10 minute intervals until it shows signs of setting.