My strawberry patch is in full swing. We just picked 2 kg. in one go….and there’s more to come. So it must be jamming time!
Today I’m sharing a recipe for a strawberry jam that uses only half the usual amount of sugar. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, or you can freeze it…..it will be fine for 3 months if not longer…. so, I include tips on how to freeze jam successfully.
This way you get real fresh strawberryness, a lot less sugar, and by leaving the strawberries largely whole, you can savour them in all their juiciness when strawberry season is long over. And it really is delicious….
Making jam reminds me of my grandparents, who had a huge plum tree in the garden. My grand-dad would get up a very high ladder, which invariably looked terrifyingly precarious, and collect all the plums, shaking some of them down as well, while I ran around underneath the tree picking up the ones that fell …and then delivering them all to my nanna in the kitchen, who would set about the making of jam. The whole house would fill with the fragrance of plum…it would last for days. The next day rows of potted sealed jam would sit in the larder, gleaming purple.
Home-made jam is still just the best. Worth the faff. Strawberries, for all their fabulousness, don’t last long, and jam still has to be probably the best way to preserve them. I think anyway.
And finally, before I get to the business in hand, a word for the WI (Women’s Institute), for which jam is just one trademark. ‘Jam and Jerusalem!’
(Jerusalem is the anthem of the WI. btw) ….
To quote Wikipedia:
‘The British WI movement was formed in 1915 in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey Wales. It had two clear aims: to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation’s aims have broadened and it is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK. The organisation celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2010 and currently has approximately 208,000 members in 7,000 WIs.
Amongst WI aims and activities are providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, enabling them to take part in a wide variety of activities, campaigning on issues that matter to them and their communities.’
As I mentioned, I picked 2 kgs. of strawberries, which I graded into best, pretty good, and not much good. Only put decent ones in the jam….
I ended up with 1.5 kg. strawberries for jam. As this maybe an unreasonable amount of strawberries for most people, I have halved the quantities, so the recipe below should make 2 pots of jam. One for the fridge and one for the freezer?
Hope you enjoy.
So here’s how to make the best strawberry jam you will ever taste! 🙂
reduced-sugar freezer jam
enough for 2 pots…(350-400gm. jars)
- 750gms. strawberries
- 325 gms. light raw muscovado sugar
- 4 gms. apple pectin
- You need 2 sterilised jam jars ( 350-400gm.). (+ a small bowl for any extra jam that doesn’t fit….)
- I sterilise jars by firstly washing them in very hot soapy water, and then rinsing them in hot clean water.
- I place them sideways on an oven-proof tray. They go in an oven Gas Mk. 2-3 150 – 160 C, for the time it takes to make the jam. I remove them 5 mins. before I wish to transfer the jam to the pots. Be careful when handling the jars, they are very hot!
- To sterilise the lids, immerse them in boiling water for 5 mins. and then dry with super-clean kitchen towel. Do this just before you need to use them. And this will depend on whether or not you are going to freeze the jam.
- Trim the strawberries.
- Leave small and medium sized strawberries whole and slice large ones in half.
- Wash the strawberries and pat them dry with kitchen towel.
- Place the strawberries in a bowl, and cover them with the sugar.
- Stir the sugar in gently, and then leave, covered for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
When ready to make the jam:
- Place a saucer in the fridge to chill. (To use when testing the setting point of the jam).
- Transfer the strawberries and sugar to a large deep-sided stainless steel or other non-reactive pan. The pan needs to be large enough to cope with when the jam boils, as it will rise and spatter considerably for a while.
- Add the powdered pectin to the strawberries. Stir in.
- On a high heat, bring the strawberries to a rolling boil.
- If foam forms on the surface, skim it off with a spatula.
- Keep the jam on a rolling boil until setting point is reached.
To test for setting point:
- Switch off the heat.
- Drop a few blobs of the jam onto the cold saucer, and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Run the tip of your finger through the jam. It will separate and you will see tiny wrinkles form on the surface of the blobs, when the jam has reached setting point.
- Cook’s note: the fresher this jam is the better, so I kept it to a low set.
- If the jam is not ready to set, switch the heat back on and test again in a few minutes.
- It took my batch 30 mins. to reach setting point. The time can be variable.
- The closer it comes to setting, the more frequently you should test (switching off the heat each time).
- When you are happy that the jam is going to reach your desired set, switch off the heat and leave it to stand for 20 mins. This will help stop the strawberries from rising to the top of the pot.
- Remove the jars from the warm oven 5 mins. before transferring the jam. (If you let the jam jars cool down to much, they may crack when you pour in the hot jam. So leave the jars in the heated oven until ready to go.)
- Using ladles and jugs sterilised by immersing in boiling water, transfer the jam into the hot sterilised jam jars.
- Fill the jars very nearly to the top, leaving a gap about 5-8 ml.
- Once all the jam is transferred (there may be a little left for tomorrow’s breakfast), remove any jam drips from around the edge of the jar with a pristinely clean damp cloth. Do this carefully, as everything is very hot!
- Place waxed jam discs wax side down over the surface of the jam.
- If you don’t plan to freeze the jam, you can put the sterilised lids on immediately.
If you are planning on freezing the jam, leave the jam to cool completely for at least 8 hours, and then place the jam in the freezer WITHOUT the lid on for 24 hours. If you put the lids on before the jam has frozen, then the pots may crack due to jam expansion as it freezes.
The next day, when the jam is frozen, screw on the sterilised lids. (Sterilise them by placing them in a pan of boiling water for 5 mins. And then drying with ultra-clean kitchen towel). Return the jam to the freezer. (For up to 3 months…)
To defrost: place the jar of jam in the refrigerator and allow it to defrost over 24 hours or so.
Once opened, store in the refrigerator and eat within 2-3 weeks. But it will all be gone sooner than that !