Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jam Session with Local Strawberries

Organic Local Strawberries
I had nearly finished my shopping at the farmers market and was making my way back when I slowed down at one stall that had strawberries out for tasting. I ate one, and it was so good that within seconds I was inexplicably taken by the idea that I should (or could?) make jam out of it, and before I had thought it through I was lugging a pack of 3 pint boxes of strawberries. There is a good reason these farmers offer those samples, you know.

One thing was sure though, these strawberries tasted amazing, and were easily the best I have had. For within hours, the lot had whittled down, and I was rethinking the plans for the jam. After all, it would be just a load of sugar, under the guise of preserving the season's bounty. Honestly, I was also getting worried about whether it was really worth the efforts. The more I read about canning and sterilizing bottles, the more doubtful I got about what I was getting into.

Flip-flop, flip-flop, but finally, I settled on this basic recipe that does not use any additional pectin, and decided to use clean sterilized jars and not bother with the whole processing in hot water bath, which was becoming the real detriment in my path. Anyway, I had only about a pound and half of strawberries left by now so this wasn't going to be a whole lot of jam - about one jar's worth which would last a few weeks at the most.

After I read some of the comments, I decided to reduce the sugar by half, because the strawberries had an intense and sweet taste on their own and I did not want to overpower that.

The process in pictures

Strawberry Jam: The process

Top L-R: Strawberries, Chopped and mixed with sugar
Bottom L-R: Mashed berries on the stove, Coming to a rolling boil - thermometer firmly in place


2 pounds fresh strawberries
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice


Place three plates in a freezer.

Hull the strawberries. That is, remove the stem and green ends. Chop them up.

In a wide bowl, mix the strawberries and sugar, and crush the berries gently. [I did this by hand.] Leave this for about half an hour, and the sugar will dissolve in the resulting juice.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice.

Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Stir often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C).

After about 10 minutes of boiling place a spoonful of the liquid of the jam onto one of the cold plates. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate. If it doesn't try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it's ready to be canned. If not, repeat after a few minutes with another cold plate.

Let it cool a little, and then transfer to hot sterile jars. Refrigerate after it has completely cooled.

Strawberry Jam: First Batch

Now, the real test of a good jam also includes how long it stays good, and so far, a month later, this jam has passed it. It tastes just as fabulous as it did to begin with, and many a toasts have been elevated. In fact, the jam making was such a success that last week I bought another 3 pint basket, and made another batch of jam. Now I hope that it lasts just as well, for at least a couple of months, or thereabouts, to remind me of this glorious summer.

Strawberry Jam: Second Batch


bha said...

The JAM session seems to be have borne sweet fruits for you.....:)

bee said...

beautiful. a tip i learnt from anita -put a muslin bag with citrus pips in the pot of jam while cooking. they have lots of pectin.

for sterilising jars, just microwave them (uncovered) for 30 seconds to a minute depending on size. moisten them a bit to generate steam.

Richa said...

what a fantastic color :)
so u went back to get another 1/2 lb ;) color pharach chan distoy, taste tar chan asselch' ;) that reminds me, gotta' get my peach jam going soon, only a few more weeks...

musical said...

You really have some will power :-D. I would have polished off all the strawberries :). Lovely jam!

Roopa said...

wow what a fantastic color I am just drooling at the picture :)

Anonymous said...

The organic strawberries from the Sunnyvale FM were to die for. They were absolutely the best I had ever eaten. Jam looks delicious and like Bee mentioned, natural pectin works wonders.

evolvingtastes said...

bhags, yes, the results were sweet indeed.

bee thanks for those tips. I heat dry the jar in the dishwasher (as part of the normal cycle, but not just before pouring the jam in), and I am not sure if that is enough to sterilize it or not. My previous jam attempts too were kept in the refrigerator, so not really canned.

:-) richa madam, humko thodasa maths toh aataa hai. I used 1-1/2 c sugar and 3 T lemon juice.

musical, will power? Ayyo, not me. Will power would have prevented me from buying those strawberries in the first place. :)

Hi Roopa, how have you been? Strawberries are a photographers delight for sure. They don't look bad any way you photograph them.

Manisha, this jam did have lemon juice in it, which I thought was for some added pectin. I had heard about the citrus pips (and the pith) in the context of orange marmalade, which is definitely a more ambitious project, but will try it out with some other jam, when that happens!

KellytheCulinarian said...

Cute title, great post and recipes and beautiful photos! I'm bookmarking this one.

Suganya said...

Those berries are tempting. They would have been gobbled up before even thinking jam. But the colour is awesome, ET.

sra said...

Hear you about the sterilising bit - a pickle I made recently failed despite my doing my best to sterlise the containers. And the jam's such a lovely colour!

Sia said...

what a fantastic colour... i made a small bottle of organic strawberry jam using viji or vcuisine's recipe. it was to die for:)

Asha said...

Mmm!! Looks so delicious and yummy, love the color:)

Finla said...

You can't beat home made jam. It looks delicious. I woudn't mind to hav e a pot :-)))

TheCooker said...

My kind of a jam session. The S'vale FM still has jam worthy strawberries I've heard.
Do you think the fruit can be frozen now to make jam later?

evolvingtastes said...

Kelly, Suganya, Asha, Happy Cook, thanks for your comments.

Sra, that is terrible - after all that hard work, it must have been disheartening. In case of pickles there is also the additional element of any moisture getting in that can cause the fungus.

Sia, thanks and welcome! viji is quite the jam queen - I am hoping to try her apple-ginger once the local apples start rolling in.

thecooker, if you find good berries, you can definitely hull and freeze them (first freeze each one on a tray, then put into a freezer bag). Then use these up for smoothies and such. You could also make jam out of those, but not sure how how long it would last. Usually, when I take out anything frozen I like to use it up right away.

Cynthia said...

Ummmm, so good!

Anonymous said...

Hmm! I'd think the lemon juice was there more for flavor than pectin, even though citrus fruits have more pectin than strawberries.

When I made my grapefruit marmalade, I barely had any pips and so my pectin syrup was rather non-existent. But the marmalade rocks. It's better when it's at room temperature - I cheat and warm it just a tad in the microwave.

In the ultimate analysis, if it looks good and tastes even better, why fuss. The pectin business was just to be pedantic and you know to say: this is how it's really made :-D ai ga! kithi motha hota to dagad!

Rachna said...

wow...yur strawberries look out of this world... if i had such beauties.... they wud reach the stomach before the pan...nevertheless, great jam recipe... if i ever want to make jam, i'll look yur up!!

evolvingtastes said...

Manisha, dagaD chAlel! I welcome your long and informative response. You made grapefruit marmalade? Is there is a post on your blog about it? I absolutely love orange marmalade, but I usually buy some really good ones because from what I read it is one tough project.

evolvingtastes said...

Rachna, I feel very fortunate to live somewhere where I can get enough strawberries to eat out of hand and then some. And the season seems to be getting longer each year.

Mishmash ! said...

WOW, that looks too good !! You should label it too :P


evolvingtastes said...

shn, that is the nice-est compliment! Thanks.

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