The first time I went to a pick your own farm I got a bit carried away and treated it like a competition. I simply had to win and pick all of the best strawberries. I didn’t give much thought as to how I’d actually eat all of the strawberries, but that didn’t matter as I was winning!
Anyway, after baking a Victoria sponge, Eaton Mess and a Pavlova I still had a fridge full of strawberries so I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn how to make Jam.
After searching online I realised that jam making is a bit of an science. Depending on the type of fruit you are using you need either jam or preserving sugar. Strawberries are naturally sweet so they don’t have much pectin. Fruits that are acidic normally contain more pectin (apples and plums) but strawberries and blueberries don’t have much so they need a helping hand in the form of a jam sugar which has added pectin. You can find a good guide to fruit pectin levels here.
This is the best recipe I found for making jam if you have a silly amount of fruit to use. If you have a normal amount, just half the quantity of the ingredients.
Yield 2-3 large jars
- 1.8kg small whole strawberries
- juice of 3 lemons
- 1.84kg jam sugar
- knob of butter
You'll also need
- A huge pan
- A huge bowl
- 2-3 large sterilised jars with lids
- Wax discs
- A funnel
- Prepare the strawberries by giving them a rinse and hulling them. If you’re clumsy or depending on how tedious you find this task you can actually buy a strawberry huller!
- In a large bowl add the hulled strawberries, lemon juice and sugar and give it a gentle stir. Cover with a towel and leave overnight. Most of the sugar will have dissolved and you'll realise why jam should be a 'treat' and it isn't actually one of your 5 a day.
- Put a small plate in a freezer (trust me I have my reasons)
- Tip the fruit and juice into a very large pan, the biggest you have. If you don’t have a large pan, don’t chance your luck and use two pans instead (or just make half a batch).
- On a medium to low heat gently stir the sugar and strawberries using a wooden spoon.
- Once the sugar has dissolved turn up the heat, then boil for 4 minutes.*
- To check to see if your jam reached a good setting point take the saucer out of the freezer and place a spoonful of jam onto the plate. Draw a line through the jam and if the jam keeps its shape you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, just boil it for another 2 mins before testing again.
- To get that glossy look take the jam off the heat and swirl in the butter.
- Leave the jam to cool for about Cool for 10-15 minutes.
- If you’re too impatient when you try and pot the jam, the fruit will rise to the top and those who don’t manage to get the first portion of jam will be left sad.
- Once cool, stir the jam gently to distribute the fruit and then pour into warm sterilised jars – a funnel really helps with this part.
- Put waxed discs on straight away, top with a lid and keep for 6 months in a cool dry cupboard.
- Once open eat within 4 weeks.
*Do not boil the fruit until all the sugar has dissolved. If you do the sugar crystals that haven’t dissolved may burn and ruin the taste of your jam.