I was bequeathed an overload of strawberries from the Périgord – short answer: I bought four baskets and the vendor, whose booth I shop at often, threw in two extra for free, an unspoken equivalent of a carte de fidelité in Paris – so I’ve spent the past few days washing, hulling, cutting and cooking my unexpected bounty.
I’ve been making a number of things with them. And while I was chopping and thinking (which are probably the only two activities that I’m able to do at the same time), I realized that while I have a Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam recipe on the site, I didn’t have a strawberry jam. So here it is.
Although I’m giving you a recipe for the amount of strawberries that I used, you can use the same proportions if you have just a basket, or a bushel. You’ll just need to do a slight amount of math. Only the cooking time will change, so keep an eye on things. Jam-making is not something you walk away from and you need to rely more on look and feel, rather than exact times. Another thing about jam-making is that fruit and berry jams are always better made in small batches; the shorter the cooking time, the better the flavor. So if you have more than 2-pounds (900g) of strawberries, consider making jam in a couple of batches rather than one big one.
Many traditional recipes use an equal amount of sugar to fruit, by weight, but I find it’s okay to decrease it to these proportions. Sugar is both a thickener and a preservation agent. If you reduce it too much more, your jam may not thicken and won’t keep for a long time. (Which is okay if you want thinner jam, you keep it in the refrigerator, and eat it relatively quickly.) This recipe can be scaled up or down, depending on how many strawberries you have. But if you want to make a lot more, best to make it in a couple of batches. To prepare the jars, pour boiling water into them, as well as into the lids. Let them sit 5-10 minutes, then carefully pour out the hot water and set them upside down on a cooling rack until ready to fill.
Since I keep my jams in the refrigerator, I don’t put them up them in a traditional sense. I usually just overturn the jars and let them cool, which provides a reasonable seal, then refrigerate them. I find my jams keep well this way for up to one year. Check the National Center for Home Food Preservation website for instructions on how to can fruit jams.
Note: Last season strawberries tend to have less natural pectin than ones that arrive earlier. So your jam may be less jelled. One strategy is the finely grate a green apple into the strawberries before cooking them, which adds pectin. (There are guidelines here for using liquid and powdered pectin.) I don’t mind the slightly runnier jam and it’s terrific on yogurt or served with fresh goat cheese for dessert.
2 pounds (900g) strawberries
1 1/4 pounds (2 2/3 cups, 580g) sugar
one lemon, organic or unsprayed
optional: kirsch (or eau-de-vie, or crème de cassis)
1. Wash and hull the strawberries and cut them into quarters. If some are larger or smaller, just make sure the pieces all about the same size.
2. Toss them in a large pot, such as a Dutch oven casserole made of a nonreactive material, with the sugar. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the pot, and add the lemon halves to the berries. Stir well, cover, and let sit a couple of hours (up to 8 hours) at room temperature, stirring one or two times while they marinate.
3. Put a small plate in the freezer. Turn the heat on under the strawberries to medium-high and cook the strawberries, stirring occasionally, as they reduce and the juices thicken. If a lot of foam rises to the surface, skim it away. When the syrup is the consistency of warm maple syrup – it will take about 10 to 15 minutes or so, depending on the pot and berries, turn off the heat and put a spoonful of the jam on the frozen plate and return the plate to the freezer. Check it in a few minutes; if it wrinkles when you nudge it, it’s done. If not, return the plate to the freezer and cook the jam a little more, testing it again. It may take a few times before you get it to the right consistency.
4. When the strawberry jam is done, remove the lemon and stir in a few drops of kirsch, if using, then ladle the jam into the prepared jars.
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