For Christmas my friend bought me a jam making kit and up until two weeks ago I was yet to get around to using it! With so much end of summer fruit on offer I decided to give it a whirl and my first go was to be a traditional strawberry jam! While the kit I have is from Kilner and contains a funnel, jars, labels etc there is nothing to stop you using the contents of your own kitchen cupboards! You will need a solid, thick based pan to make the jam in. Don’t use a non stick pan because it will get ruined! You will also need some sterilised jars! You can re use old jam jars and sterilise them with boiling water or in a dishwasher. You can then dry them in the microwave so as not to contaminate them with damp dishcloths!
Aside from all the equipment the jam is actually quite easy to make! I used a Delia Smith recipe and made 3 medium jars. Before you start cooking the jam you will need to chill a small plate in the fridge or freezer. You will see why soon! So! Here’s how to do it…
450g Jam Sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon
1. To begin the jam making you will need to clean and dry your strawberries and remove the stalk. Make sure you dry them! Extra moisture is a no no!
2. To prepare your pan you need to grease the base with a tiny bit of butter to stop the sugar burning then layer the fruit, sugar, fruit, sugar in the pan evenly. Delia Smith recommends leaving the fruit overnight to allow the sugar to draw out the moisture. This keeps the fruit more solid when the jam is made. I included the step but left the pan for only a few hours. I also kept my strawberries whole but if you wanted you could cut them in half which would give you a smoother jam.
3. After the fruit has rested you can begin to heat the jam!!! Place the jam on a low to moderate heat to just melt the sugar and release some of the fruit’s juices. Try not to stir the jam too much as it will break up the fruit.
4. When the sugar has dissolved add the lemon juice (make sure there are no pips!). Next turn up the heat and get the jam really bubbling! (See below) When it’s really bubbling. Time it for 8 minutes!
5. After the 8 minutes remove the jam from the heat and get your chilled plate! Spoon a little jam onto the plate and push it with your finger. If the jam is done you will see the surface wrinkle! If it doesn’t wrinkle heat the jam for another 3-4 minutes then repeat the process and look for the wrinkles! You can do this a few times until the jam is set!
6. When you have removed the jam from the heat add a knob of butter and mix to disperse the scum from the jam. As the jam cools another ‘scum’ of bubbles will form on the top of the pan. To keep this to a minimum when the jam is slightly cooled fill the jars to prevent a large scum form forming. Leave the lids off and allow the jam to cool fully.
7. As a final step when the jam is completely cooled use either wax discs or 2 layers of cling film cut the size to seal the top surface of the jam. Then pop on the lids and label! The jam should keep for a few months in a cupboard but once open keep in the fridge!