If you've never made it before, jam is one of the easiest things to do with strawberries, especially if you want to enjoy their beauty and flavor year-round or tuck a jar into a holiday gift basket. The trick is to make it in small batches [although next time I'm going to double this and see what happens]. The recipe also has the classic 1 cup of fruit to 1 cup of sugar ratio which is standard for jam-making.
I often turn to my well-worn copy of The Joy of Cooking [1975 edition] whenever I need an easy, tried and true recipe. This recipe for "Red Red Strawberry Jam" is practically fool-proof. Don't skimp on the amount of sugar, as tempting as it is, because you need it to set the jam. I tend to use small to medium berries so they preserve whole but you can also mash them up a bit, too, to release some of the juices (or all). If you use fresh local berries you usually don't have to hull them! At least I don't.
Red Red Strawberry Jam
• 1 quart berries (cleaned, hulled, and dried)
• 4 cups sugar
• juice of 1/2 lemon (optional, but enhances flavor)
Makes 1 quart (or 2 pints).
Step 1 –– Put berries in a 10" heavy pot (I use enameled cast iron) and cover with sugar.
Step 2 –– Stir gently with a wooden spoon (not sure why it has to be wooden but I'm not about to argue!) over low heat until it starts to juice up. From mixing to juicy should take a few minutes.
Step 3 –– Once it reaches the juicy stage (after the sugar melts), set heat to moderate, stop stirring and cook until it is nice and bubbly.
Step 4 –– When the mixture reaches a full "bubbling mass," set timer for exactly 15 minutes (17 if the berries are really ripe) and leave on moderate heat. Leave pot uncovered and do not disturb. You may run your wooden spoon back and forth across the bottom to make sure it is not sticking (another reason why a good heavy pan is helpful).
Step 5 –– After the timer goes off, turn off the burner and set pan aside to cool. The jam should now coat your spoon while it is still hot. Add the lemon juice, if desired. Scrape off jammy bits from side of pan and stir in gently. Cool.
Step 6 –– When cool, stir lightly and pour mixture into sterilized jars and seal. Can according to canning instructions or store in refrigerator. Makes 1 quart (or 2 pints) of luscious strawberry jam.
Now to find some good whole wheat bread and some peanut butter!
What do you like to make with strawberries?
NOTE: The strawberries in this jam were from local grower Mose Shirk who sells his berries at the Casey County Produce Auction. They are also now available at Wilson's Cedar Point Farm (on 837 South in Pulaski County) and Hettmansperger's Greenhouse (straddling the Casey/Pulaski County line on 837 South).
You come back when you're ready!