Any time I’ve considered making strawberry jam, the strawberries have disappeared before the thought has been put into action. Last week, with the absence of the strawberry thief, I was finally able to take the fruit from punnet to jar.
I was so pleased I did. The aroma from the strawberries bubbling away in the pot was, in itself, enough to send me into raptures but a spoonful or two straight from the jar has made me think I’d better bottle up some more of summer before it has gone. Maybe some apricot jam too?
I like to make preserves in small amounts – less waste if it all goes wrong and easy and quick to do at short notice rather than spending the whole morning, afternoon or, god forbid, day in the kitchen surrounded by jars and jam-making equipment. Increase the quantities if you are this kind of person (I admire you, really I do).
Strawberry and vanilla syrup jam
500g (2 punnets) strawberries, hulled
1 tablespoon Equagold Tahitian vanilla syrup or 1 whole vanilla pod*
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon of butter
Makes 2 small jars
Have the jam jars ready and sterilized. I normally wash mine in hot soapy water, rinse the jars and, still wet, pop them (jars only, no lids!) in the microwave for one minute. Once washed, I rinse the lids with boiling water from a kettle. I am not an expert on preserving and sterilization so check out one of the many websites available on the subject, such as this one.
For a chunky, whole fruit experience, keep smaller strawberries whole and cut larger ones to the same size. Place the fruit in a stainless steel or glass bowl and mix with the vanilla syrup and sugar. Leave overnight in the fridge. If using a vanilla pod, split the pod along the length with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into the mix, along with the whole pod (remove pod after cooking).
The next day, remove the fruit and sugar mix from the fridge (I normally leave it at room temperature for about an hour before cooking). Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
Place a small saucer in the freezer (for testing jam at setting stage).
Transfer the fruit mix into a large saucepan and over a gentle simmer, heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Turn the heat up and slowly bring to a rolling boil. Take care the jam does not catch on the sides or bottom of the saucepan. Cook until the jam reaches setting point.
While it’s boiling a scum sometimes rises to the surface and can spoil the appearance of the jam. To remove this, you can either:
- use a metal spoon to skim off the scum (now there’s a nice phrase);
or, (like me because I am lazy):
- skip the skimming and stir in a small knob of butter.
After about 10 minutes of boiling, start testing to see if jam is set (you may need to do this a few times). Put a small amount of jam on the saucer you have ready in the freezer. Wait until it cools slightly then push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles as you push, it is ready. Mine took about 15-20 minutes to reach this stage.
Once ready, pour into the hot sterilized jars. If you have waxed discs, place these on top and cover with a lid. Leave to cool.
And there you have it, summer in a jar.