Strawberry jam home made is more than delicious ! It is afternoon tea, cream tea, Victoria sandwich cake, fresh bread - fabulous. Making a delicious jam is not difficult and if you grow your own strawberries and when strawberries are plentiful what better solution than to preserve them for the months to come. The main problem with soft fruits is that they can soon be destroyed by over stirring, boiling and handling. So firstly I do not wash the fruits and I pick them when the weather is dry. We don't want any extra moisture going on as there is plenty contained within the fruits.
Place two or three saucers or tea plates in the freezer. Heat your clean jars without their lids in a warm oven (100 degrees) when you start to make your jam. This sterilises them and also prevents any cracking of glass when you fill them with the hot jam.
The night before you want to make your jam – remove the hull (the green leaves and little core) from your strawberries and place in the pan. Finely grate over the lemon zest and add the juice. Sprinkle over the sugar then leave until the next day.
When you return to your pan the sugar will have started to dissolve around the fruit. Place over a low heat and gently stir from time to time until all of the sugar has melted. Wait until the grittiness of the sugar has disappeared – you can feel this with a wooden spoon on the base of the pan. Turn up the heat and bring the pan to a fast boil. Time the boiling period and cook for twenty minutes then remove it from the heat.
Take one of your saucers from the freezer and take a tablespoon of your jam from the pan and place onto the freezing cold plate. Wait a few seconds for the jam to cool then with the index finger push the jam from one side. If it is still liquid boil for another five minutes and repeat. If however when you push the jam it wrinkles because it has formed a thin skin, feels thick and sticks to your finger then it is cooked perfectly and will set when it is cold.
Take your warm sterilised jars from the oven and fill with the hot jam. Seal the jars immediately and leave to cool.
TIP: When cooking with fruit and sugar a scum will probably form during the cooking. To disperse this when your jam is ready simply add a knob of butter, stir and it will disappear.
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