Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Strawberry Jam

The strawberries shown above are only a fraction of what was picked. Making jam did not significantly reduce the amount of strawberries we had. After hulling what I needed, there was still a fridge full of strawberries. I still have a freezer full of strawberries so if anyone has any ideas please let me know about them. Recipes for strawberry margaritas or daiquiris would be fun!

I searched online for several jam recipes when I came across this one that hails from Santa Maria, CA which is known for producing high quality strawberries so I decided to go with it. Jam is so easy to make. It's a one pot process and requires very little effort. I don't know why more people don't make jam themselves. It tastes much much better than commercial brands and is better for you. Actually, it's probably not better for you but the use of real sugar is a plus.

Time: 1 hour


-8 cups hulled strawberries
-8 cups sugar (used 4.5 cups)
-Juice of 2 lemons (used 1 lime since I didn't have lemon)

1. Clean and hull enough strawberries to make up eight cups of cut strawberries. Throw into a large pot and stir in sugar and the lemon juice. Consider the pot too small if more than half the pot is full of strawberries.

2. Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat to keep the mixture boiling but watch it carefully as it will bubble up and, if the heat is too high, boil over. You do not want this to happen because the jam is extremely sticky. Hence the need for a large pot.

3. Boil the strawberry mixture for between 30 and 60 minutes (for me, this was about 45 minutes). Skim the bubbles off the top if enough form to cause problems. What you are looking for is the liquid to come off the spoon slowly instead of draining off quickly. It will be obvious when this happens. My jam became quite thick.

I don't think it matters so much if you use lemon or another citrus. It's not for the flavor but to help preserve the color, otherwise the strawberries may become very dark. So while the taste will still be excellent, its appearance may be slightly off putting. I only had 1 lime which was not enough for the quantity I made. I bet orange juice would be really nice.

Watch the sugar. This recipe, as most others do, calls for 1 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit. Really, I think it depends on how sweet the fruit is. In my case, the strawberries were really sweet so I only needed to use half the sugar. Like when adding salt, it's better to start with less and add more until it's just right. Start with half the suggested amount and increase with 1/2 cup increments. With 4 cups of sugar it was sweet but still slightly tart. The additional 1/2 cup made it perfect.

As the jam maker and perpetual taste tester, I actually didn't like the taste of the jam. Perhaps I had tasted and looked at one too many strawberries in a short period of time. I was kind of disappointed. The jam just didn't taste the way I thought it should but that's the fun part of cooking. Food can taste good even if it's not what you expected. The lesson learned is not to have ideas of grandeur...well, actually it is to have reasonable expectations of the food tasting good but not to be so set in your ways as to know what it should taste like before you've tried your food, if that makes sense. Having made this connection about my thought process, I had two pieces of toast and spread my jam on it, and I have to say it was really quite amazing, especially since I spread butter on my toast too!

1 comment:

Drusilla said...

Easy way to put those strawberries aside until you figure out what to do with them: rinse, hull, and slice (or not, but it's easier to slice them now, I think), then spread on cookie sheets lined with wax paper and freeze. Voila, frozen strawberries in 30 minutes or less. Then just bag them and store them until you spot the perfect recipe.

(And now you know why my freezer is crammed full of frozen fruit. I buy it, I'm uninspired...I chop it up and freeze it.)