Thursday, 30 January 2014

Homemade Strawberry Jam

It's much easier to make jam than you think. The hardest part of this recipe, is using your gut instinct to decide when to stop cooking the jam. I have never sterilized jam jars before using them. I usually save old store bought jam bottles, give them a good wash with soap water, remove any labels (by soaking them in soap water overnight) and dry them well. When making the jam, I just make sure I use clean spoons and utensils. My jam will last for a really long time in the fridge without getting spoilt. When using the jam, I usually use a separate knife or spoon and not the butter knife, again to avoid contamination.


Simple Homemade Strawberry jam
Simple Homemade Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:
2 packets of strawberries
1/2 lemon with the zest removed
1/4 cup sugar for soaking the strawberries
1 1/2 cup of sugar

Method:
Remove the green leafy part of the strawberry and slice in quarters. Soak the strawberries in 1/4 cup of sugar for about an hour. This will help release some of their natural juices.

In a stainless steel casserole, put the sugar, lemon zest and the other 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Cook the mixture on low till the sugar dissolves. Add the strawberries and the juices that were released into the casserole. Cook again on low heat till the mixture boils.

Skim the surface for impurities with a spoon (the foamy bits) while boiling the jam. Discard. By doing this step, you will have a clear jam.

Increase the heat, keeping an eye on it at all times. Once it has started boiling and has reduced in quantity, take a saucer and do a drop test.

To do a drop test, take a small spoon and drop a little onto the saucer. Wait for it to cool, and check if the jam is runny or stays where it is. Push the jam with your finger, if it wrinkles its ready. If not, give it another 5 minutes and do another drop test. Overdoing the boiling, will result in your jam crystallizing in the fridge, so the texture should not be too thin, but at the same time not too jelly like.

Keep in mind, it will set further once the mixture cools down. Once the jam is ready, switch off the heat, and transfer immediately while hot to the jam jars. Leave to cool completely before you store it in the fridge.

TIP: if you do overboil your jam (and realize its too hard once its cooled off), add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to a pan along with the overcooked jam. Put the heat on, and as soon as the jam dissolves, put the heat off and transfer to the jam jar. It will still come out perfect!