I had a love-hate relationship with strawberry jam. Previously like most kids, my mother used to buy those bright, artificial red ones from the stores and while I did eat them with bread and such, I never had an instilled love for them. It was sour and sickly sugary sweet. And even when I traveled quite frequently to Cameron Highlands, the idea of buying jam never appealed to me. But that all changed when I made my own and once you made your own jam, you will never have a desire to get them from the stores again, no matter how good they are.
Initially I thought making jam requires some special kind of ingredient or you some special skill or equipment. But as long as the fruit has enough pectin, that’s pretty much jam there. Basic jam making needs the fruit, sugar and pectin. What is pectin? Without boring you too much with the wikipedia explanation (which I’m sure you can look it up yourself anyway), it is something present in ripe fruits that will help jam set to that desired texture and stage. But it is important to note that not all fruits have pectin. That’s why sometimes we use a combination of fruits that has higher pectin to help make it into a jam.
But making jam just feels so homely and even a bit like you accomplished something. Almost like an art form of transforming fruit to something more marvelous. I am proud of this jam, it is the type of jam where I’m proud to spread on anything; cakes, scones, donuts and biscuits.
Recipe from 'Table for Two or more...'
- 500 gms diced strawberries
- 350 gms fine sugar
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon water
- Prep your strawberries. Wash them thoroughly to get rid of those fine hairs. Pluck out the stems and hull out the tops. Then cut them into dices. I like to cut them smaller so they cook down without having to mash them halfway and dicing them also leaves you some nice jam chunks.
- Weigh out the strawberries after they have been prepped, not before. I have just slightly a bit over 500gms but no matter.
- Weigh out the sugar. Put the strawberries, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a pot. Turn on the heat. Stir it around for a while for the sugar to dissolve.
- Pour in your 1 tablespoon water at this point, I do this just to help the sugar move along.
- Let it come to a boil, you have to watch it in the initial 15 mins stage cause it tends to boil over. Just lower the heat when it comes to that and keep stirring every 3 minutes.
- When the sugar has dissolved into a syrup and the strawberries have released most of their water, you can leave it to simmer in low heat, just check on the consistency every 7 to 10 mins.
- The consistency you're looking for is when the fruit has cooked down and when you make a swipe with your spoon in the pot, it separates to reveal the bottom of the pot. Or you can try the plate in the fridge test where you swipe some jam on a clean flat plate and place it in the fridge for 10 seconds, if it scrapes off cleanly, then the jam is ready. I just usually go by my eye, if my jam seems to drop heavily from the spoon, I know it's ready, it will continue to thicken in the fridge.
- Place the jam in clean, glass jars immediately after cooking and while it's still hot, screw the cap on. This will kill off any bacteria on the lid.
- After it has cooled down to room temperature, release the lid a little and screw it back again to release any pressure or steam.
- Keep it in the fridge for the rest of the usage.
- A jam like this usually keeps for a long time in the fridge, but try to finish it within