British Summer ~ Part 3: Classic Strawberry Jam
My first memory of strawberry jam was the sweet jars of sticky spread my Mother made when I was four years old. She used to send me to school with little sandwiches of Cheddar cheese and strawberry jam on white bread. I used to swap one bread slice from the jam sandwich with the plain buttered slice of the cheese sandwich to create a cheese and strawberry jam mash-up. They were amazing.
Strawberry Jam has always been a food staple in many kitchen cupboards, but how many of us realise that it is only made up of strawberries, sugar and a splash of lemon juice? What sweet simplicity in a jar.
2 kg Strawberries
2 kg Granulated Sugar
4 tbsp. lemon juice
Start by preparing your jam jars: Sterilise the jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing and letting them drip dry in on a rack in a pre-heated oven on 100ºC.
Now prepare the fruit: Top green heads off the strawberries and hull and halve any large ones. Place them into a large pan with plenty of space and add the lemon juice. Set over the stove on a very low heat to for twenty minutes or until all the fruit are very soft, stirring occasionally to move the strawberries from the bottom. Pour in the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Bring the jam temperature to setting point (105ºC/220F) by increasing the heat to a gentle rolling boil, whilst stirring.
Tip: If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, then have a cold saucer to hand. Quickly spoon out a little on to the saucer and after a minute run your finger through the jam. If the syrup wrinkles and your finger leaves a path through it then the jam is ready.
Pour into the jars, and seal tightly. To help with preserving your jam, you can buy cheap jam jar kits. These usually include cut-to-size wax circles to place over the surface of the jam, transparent plastic covers to wrap over the jar top, tied off with an elastic band before you screw on the lid.
Tip: Wet the plastic cover with a clean, damp sponge to allow for good contact and extra elasticity as you pull it over the jar top.
What else? Well, have you heard of the gardening phrase what grows together, goes together? Well it’s true – and if you consider it in jam making, here are some great variations to classic strawberry jam for different uses, during the summer months:
- Strawberry and Lavender (in season: late June – early August)
- Strawberry and Rhubarb (in season: April – July)
- Strawberry and Gooseberry (in season: July – August)
- Strawberry and Raspberry (in season: July – September)
- Strawberry and Peach (in season: July – September)
- Strawberry, Vanilla and Basil (all summer)
- Strawberry and Mint (all summer)
And what else is there to do with jam? Well those possibilities are infinite:
- Rice Pudding and jam
- Strawberry Jam tarts
- Jam roly-poly
- Pavlova/Eton Mess
- Classic Victoria Sponge Sandwich with butter cream and strawberry filling