Saturday, August 15, 2009

Preserving the Season's Best Fruits: Strawberry Jam

I dug through the fridge this morning to find a box of strawberries that I had completely forgotten about since my trip to Las Vegas. They were still edible though, but on the mushy side. I decided to turn the strawberries into jam. I am leaving to Canada tomorrow for a week so I am trying to clear out the fridge. I don't want them to turn into a moldy mess when I get back.

I don't have the exact measurements because I find that the amount of sugar varies depending on the sweetness of your fruit. The strawberries I had today were very sweet so I didn't have to put in too much sugar. This is what you will need:

  • 1 lb Strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Water, as needed ~1/2 cup

Here's the basic method for making jam:

  1. Quarter the strawberries and macerate with sugar. (Say 1 pound of strawberries to 1 cup of granulated sugar) Add about 1 tbsp of lemon juice (per 1 pound) and leave it alone for at least an hour-- or overnight. This will soften the strawberries so they can break apart easily when boiled.
    - macerate: To soak fruit or other food in liquid in order to soften and flavor
  2. After at least an hour, you will find the strawberries soaking in a syrup. Optional: puree the strawberries for a less lumpy jam. Otherwise, turn strawberries and syrup into a saucepan and bring to a boil on med to med-high heat.
  3. Check 5 minutes later to see if strawberries have broken up. When strawberries have been boiled to mush, check flavor and add sugar as needed. Add some water if syrup is getting too thick and bring to a boil again. At this point the syrup should begin to thicken. If not, keep boiling until it is the right thickness. A helpful note: Jam will get thicker when it is cooled.

How much sugar to use: It really varies. Strawberry puree thickens very quickly when boiled so water (and less sugar) is needed. On the other hand, raspberries and blueberries are more sour so we need more sugar to balance that flavor out and thicken the jam. In some cases, pectin is needed to set the jam. By all means, experiment with the jam. Just add water when it is too thick, sugar to sweeten and thicken, and lastly pectin to set the jam if it is still too runny. & don't burn the jam!

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