When I started making jam I suddenly found out how easy and how *cheap* it is to do. This weekend I made 9 jars of strawberry jam, for a total cost of £10, and in less time than it would have taken me to walk to the corner shop and back, never mind driving to a supermarket.
1.5kg strawberries. It is absolutely fine if they are over ripe and a little squishy, just buy the reduced ones in the supermarket.
1.5kg jam making sugar – I usually prefer 60:40 ratio but the strawberries need it for the full taste
zest and juice of 2 lemons
100 – 150g unsalted butter
Hull and wash the strawberries, and put them whole in your maslin pan with half of the sugar, all of the lemon juice and all of the zest, cover with cling film. Leave it alone – go out, watch TV, whatever, just leave it alone for a few hours, maybe even overnight. You can make this faster and skip leaving it all to soak in, but I prefer it this way. Prep time? 5 minutes.
Once all the lemon juice, strawberry juice and sugar has combined pop it on the hob for 10 – 20 minutes on a low heat until the fruit has fully collapsed. That way all the flavours have released but you still have while fruit in your jam.
Once the fruit has collapsed, add the remaining sugar and the butter (this stops foam forming on the top) and bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, stay with it to check it does not boil over, but stir it only occasionally. Test the “set” of the jam by dropping some onto a saucer you have left in the freezer. If it wrinkles as soon as it is cool, it is set
You end up with these gloriously dark red berries suspended in equally delicious looking jelly
Immediately pour into sterilised jars (I use my dishwasher on “hot” setting, then pop them into the oven on 90C while the jam is boiling to dry out and heat up so they don’t crack when the hot jam is poured in). If you are making enough to save/ give away then pop a wax disc on top and process the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water. If you are making just one or two jars you can just screw the lids on and keep them in the fridge for up to around a month. The processed jars can keep for years – but they won’t be uneaten that long 🙂
And there they are – in under an hour I have 9 jars of strawberry jam, and have even sterilised them and made them ready to give as gifts. While the jam was still warm I used a little on a fresh scone with thick cream. Heavenly! The jars are all recycled and vary in size, as you can see, but even so I have enough for 5 beautiful gifts (and 4 for me!) and for so little money.
You can add other flavours too – I plan to do a Strawberries and Champagne jam, maybe add some edible glitter for a little sparkle. Strawberry and rhubarb is delicious too. As each of the summer fruits comes into season I will be making jams with them – blueberry, raspberry (I hate commercially made raspberry – it always tastes burnt), apricot (maybe with brandy) and so on.
I should probably do a whole post on processing, sterilisation and water canning. It’s important if you want to keep what you have made for any length of time and it also stops some nasties from making you very ill (botulism is not common in the UK, but in other countries can be a problem)
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