Tuesday 9 September 2014

Morgan's Strawberry Jam

by guest blogger and expert jam technician, Morgan Went

This is the second time in a week that I have made this batch of jam - it’s pretty popular and one of the easiest I have ever made. This recipe makes around 7 small jars.

Strawberry Jam

  • 1kg strawberries
  • 1kg jam setting sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  1. Wash, hull and cut the strawberries.
  2. Add to a large heavy based saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice.
  3. Stir over high heat dissolving sugar.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Boil 4 minutes, skimming the foam as you go, stirring occasionally.
  6. Test to check if it has reached setting point, continue to boil until this has been reached.
  7. Pour into sterilised jars.
Cut the strawberries as small as you like, they do cook down quite a bit. I like a mixture of different sized pieces, some people mash them a bit.

Sterilising Jars 
by far the easiest method to me is putting the jars and lids in a baking sheet in a low oven, leaving them while you make the jam. I lay foil or baking paper underneath mostly for any spills when filling the jars.
This is the first time I have used additional pectin in my jam making. I’ve been a bit of a purist in the past but thought I might give it a go in the form of jam setting sugar. Let me tell you, this stuff works a treat! It’s sugar with apple pectin and citric acid, good for fruits low in pectin like strawberries, plums, peaches, figs… pretty much any fruit you want to make into jam, I suppose. The lemon in the recipe is be helpful to the setting process if there was no added pectin, so it’s kind of unnecessary now but I like it for the flavour, it lifts the strawberries (Jamie Oliver uses vanilla which I think would be too sweet, even for jam). 

I use both a sugar thermometer and the saucer-in-the-freezer technique to help me check if the jam will set. Jam setting point is 104°C or 220°F.

For the saucer menthod, put a saucer or two in the freezer when you begin the recipe. To test the jam, put a spoonful on the cold saucer and leave it for about half a minute. If it wrinkles when you put your finger through it it’s setting well and you can stop the boil.
Apparently if you overcook strawberry jam the colour and flavour go downhill pretty quick - I’ve never boiled it for longer than 4-5 minutes and it’s fine. I believe 12 minutes is the breaking point but I’ve never tested that!
This removes the ‘scum’ that appears when you make any kind of jam, can be a dirty colour (like when making plum jam) but strawberry jam scum looks more white. It’s the foam on top (as opposed to the bubbles from the boil). I like to skim as I go when the jam is boiling - it gives me something to do while I’m keeping an eye on it, and every now and then I remember to stir the jam in case any fruit is catching. You can skim at the end if you like.
I find it easiest to use a soup ladle to pour some jam into a measuring jug for easy pouring into the jars. Put the lids on pretty soon to seal, use a tea-towel on your hands, though!

Photography and Words by Morgan Went

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