I used to think that jam-making required some specialist arcane knowledge only divined through regular attendance at barn dances and the WI. And even more specialised equipment. But upon gaining an allotment a couple of years ago, wherein already lay an extensive strawberry patch, I have discovered that even I can knock together a strawberry jam that has been declared, by my own family at least, as The Best Strawberry Jam In The World Ever AND I didn't even have to bribe them ....
The Best Strawberry Jam In The World Ever
1kg/2lb 3oz of strawberries (Obviously)
1kg/2lb 3oz sugar (either granulated or caster, doesn't matter)
Juice of half a lemon
Knob of butter
(With such an easy recipe, it's easy to scale up or scale down according to how many strawberries you have. If you are scaling up though, you're going to need a bloody big pan)
1. Get strawberries. Hull and halve them removing all soft spots, bruising and gone-off-a-bit ones. I usually chop the strawberries quite small because the kids are genuinely surprised to find actual lumps of strawberry in their strawberry jam *rolls eyes.* This year we have, through no expertise of our own, grown strawberries the size of tangerines so I almost had to dice them.
2. Put strawberries in a large bowl with half of the sugar (500g/18oz), I layer them together in a large bowl, strawberries, sugar, more strawberries, sugar and so on so that the strawberries and the sugar can do what they do the very best they can.
3.Cover bowl in cling film and shove in the fridge. Walk away. Have a glass of wine.
4. Open fridge first thing in the morning and wonder why there's a large bowl of melted strawberries on the shelf because you didn't stop at one glass of wine, did you?
Or perhaps that's just me.
5. Sterilise your jam jars. Wash them, rinse, put them in the oven, set on the lowest setting it's got, upside down. Leave them there. Oh, and shove a saucer in the freezer.
6. Empty the entire bowl of strawberries and gloop and sugary residue into a LARGE pan (there WILL be boiling and you don't want strawberries and sugar all over your hob #truefacthard). Put in the rest of the sugar (500g/18oz) in and squeeze in the juice of half your lemon.
You COULD at this point, put the rest of the lemon in a tall cool glass of gin and tonic so as not to waste it. *Helpful face*
7. Stir gently over a low heat until the sugar is all melted into the strawberry gloop then turn up the heat.
8. Bring to the boil and then boil hard (a technical term meaning: a lot) until the jam reaches setting point.
9. Panic you won't know what setting point is.
10 Realise it's a matter of self-determination.
11. To decide if you've reached your happy setting point, take the pan off the heat and retrieve the saucer from the freezer. Spoon a little bit of jam onto the saucer, look at it doubtfully for a minute and then shove it a bit with your finger.
IF it holds in the place you shoved it to and doesn't run all over the saucer and you feel satisfied it will stay on a piece of toast for at least two minutes, then you're probably at your happy setting point (it will thicken up more as it cools).
IF it just slurps around the saucer looking runny, it needs a few more minutes boiling. Test again in a few minutes, and then a few more minutes after that, and then again, if it still needs it, a few minutes after that.
There is NO optimum strawberry jam time, which is very probably the arcane bit.
12. If and when you are happy with your hot jam's consistency (IT WILL THICKEN AS IT COOLS, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT), remove from the heat and stir in the knob of butter. Remove the bubbly, scummy bits with a large spoon and discard. Leave the jam to cool and thicken for ten minutes or so while you juggle several hot glass jars that you've just remembered you put in the oven.
13. Put the jam in the jars.
14. Slap a greaseproof paper disc on top to seal the jam. Put the lid on and yes, I know the jam's still hot but do it anyway.
Voila, you have just made The Best Strawberry Jam In The World Ever* Congratulations.
And you're welcome.
*Can be kept in a dark cupboard for up to 12 months but generally doesn't last that long :)