Of course, February is the season of Valentine’s Day, of spring and strawberries too.
When in season, I cannot resist the beautiful berries and keep including them in as many ways as possible in our meals. We are not lucky to be living near a farm where we could pick our own juicy berries. So when my usual supermarket stocked fresh supplies at the best prices for the season, I grabbed the chance to make this delicious strawberry jam.
I took the recipe from my dear friend Jayasree Satish’s blog. She has compiled so many interesting recipes in her blog and I often revert to her blog for guidance. Jayasree, can’t thank you enough for being support and inspiration to all even after you don’t live among us anymore. Here is the link to her recipe -http://kailaskitchen.blogspot.in/2011/01/easy-strawberry-jam.html?
I really do not believe in the present day hype surrounding Valentine’s day. Surely, any day is good to express love and affection. All the marketing, merchandise and mayhem surrounding February 14th leave me feeling out of breath. So, in keeping with my belief that any day is good to express affection, love and good cheer, this is a recipe that I share with all. A jam I totally love, one that leaves me licking the last micro-drop of jam from the spoon. No preservatives, no artificial colours, no acidity regulators – nothing synthetic. Only pure fruit, sugar and pure love!
What’s good about this jam (or any other, for that matter )
- A good home made jam, besides filling your home with an indescribable aroma of bubbling fruit pulp, makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, leaves you feeling like a kid too!
- You can control the sugar added, add any spice to give it a different dimension, cook it to your preferred degree of doneness. No more jams with more sugar than pulp, or ones that will tear the bread slice apart but will not spread on with any shred of grace or dignity! (Psst, true of several Indian brands)
- You can entirely do away with the preservatives, nature identical flavouring substances (who wants those, we have real nature bubbling in our pots) and the whole host of added chemicals which are needed in commercial ventures for shelf life, portability etc. True, this jam is likely to last only a few weeks and that too in the fridge, but hey, so what? It tastes so good, it is likely to be devoured in a week or so anyway!
- The only dampener is that eating real fruit is way more healthier than cooking it up. Boiling/cooking/heat reduces the vitamin and mineral content of the fruits. Yet, making homemade jam is surely healthier than store bought ones – fresher, no chemical additions.
Without further ado, here goes -
- Strawberries – 750 gms
- Cane sugar - 350 gms
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Wash the strawberries by soaking in a tub of tap water for 10 minutes.
- Rinse over a colander with more water, lay out on a towel to dry a little, give about 10 minutes of drying time.
- Hull the berries only after the washing step.
- Weigh the berries after hulling. This is to estimate sugar needed. I have used sugar at approximately half the weight of berries. You may need more sugar if the berries are more tart. I guess you can add more later, while cooking if required.
- Cut into quarters or smaller, drop into a clean stainless steel / glass bowl.
- Pour the weighed sugar over the berries. Toss well, keep covered overnight or at least for 4- 5 hours. (I kept it overnight in the fridge)
- Place a heavy-bottomed pan over the stove, stir the berry-sugar mixture in it. Add the juice of 1 lemon too. Keep stirring over medium to high heat until the mixture looks homogenous and glossy. Ti took me less than half an hour for this quantity of fruit. Time can differ based on quantity and flame strength.
- The sheet test for doneness of jam is to drop a spoon of jam on a chilled plate or saucer. The jam has to fall in a ‘sheet’. The jam on the saucer should develop a ‘skin’ in a minute and appear crinkly when pushed with a finger.
The jam had small chunks of strawberries, I loved it totally. You could puree the fruit and sugar together before heating if you do not like a chunky jam.
Enjoy licking it off a spoon, over a muffin or spread on a slice of warm toast.