What could be a more logical follow on from making my own clotted cream than making my own strawberry jam! I’m not convinced that jam needs the full array of ingredients that crowd together on the labels of US brands so I thought that I would go back to basics: fruit, sugar and lemon juice. That’s all, that and a very big saucepan and some sterilised jars. Easy-peasy!
Equal quantities strawberries (preferably fresh but if you’ve had a glut which you’ve stuck in the freezer they’ll do the job too)
sugar (jam sugar is best but good old fashioned granulated is fine)
A good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Knob of butter.
As a guide for quantities 2lbs of fruit will make around three standard jars. Obviously you can make as much or as little as you like/need, just make sure that you have a large enough pan – hot jam expands a lot.
Cut up the strawberries into halves or quarters depending upon how big they are and how chunky you like your jam. Personally I feel a small wave of triumph when I score a whole strawberry on my morning toast. Put them into the saucepan along with the sugar and the lemon juice and stir the whole lot up. Now put it over a medium heat and bring it to the boil.
Whilst the jam does its thing put a saucer (or small plate – does anyone use saucers anymore?) in the freezer to chill. Check the setting point of the jam every 10 minutes or so by putting 1 teaspoon of jam onto the chilled plate, leaving for a few seconds and then pushing you finger through it. If the surface wrinkles then it’s ready, if it doesn’t then leave it on the heat for a bit longer and test again.
Gently stir in the butter to disperse the foam and skim off any surface scum. Turn off the heat and leave the jam to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes.
Pour into sterilized jars, top with a disc of waxed paper and seal whilst still warm.
To make a daquiri jam switch the lemon juice to lime and add a healthy slug of rum.
For a proper British summer treat put a dash of Pimms in the mix.
Obviously you can use other fruit or even a mixture but bear in mind that some fruits lack the pectin required to set the jam so you may want to add some extra. In the UK you can buy sugar with pectin added to it. You may also need to adjust the amount of lemon juice used so that you don’t end up with something sickly-sweet.