Thursday, 26 January 2012

Strawberry Jam

I love strawberries. I would be surprised to see someone who does not! How can one not love those lovely ruby red coloured, juicy berries? I love the flavour in ice-cream, jams, syrup etc.
It was always my wish to make fruit jam at home. I was not really happy about the artificial colouring and preservatives we find in the store bought stuff. Besides, most often we can only see the artificial fruit flavour as opposed to real fruit pieces.
So when I was confident enough to try out jam making, I decided to start with my favourite fruit. And the fruit is in season now!
Our consumption of jam at home is not too much. My daughter is still too small to love sweet spreads on her bread/rotis. She only takes maple syrup and butter with bread toast. So I wanted to start with a small jar of jam.
Strawberries - 250 g
Sugar - 1 1/4 cup
Lemon Juice - 1 tsp
Lemon Zest - 1/4 tsp
Pectin - 1 tsp (please refer to the note below)

Wash the strawberries and drain the water. Place the strawberries on a clean kitchen towel to remove the excess water. Remove the stems from the strawberries and transfer them to a bowl. Crush the strawberries so it is mostly juicy and a little pulp remains. Ooooo... The color is incredibly attractive, at this stage! 
Add the lemon juice, zest and pectin and mix well.
Transfer the contents to a saucepan and heat the mixture, stirring continuously. When it comes to a boil, add the sugar all at once and keep boiling till it comes to a rolling boil. "Rolling boil" is the kind that cannot be stirred down. Take care to keep stirring all the while. At the rolling boil stage, boil for 1 minute and then take it off the heat. Keep stirring for 5 more minutes. 
Transfer the contents to a hot sterilized jar and close immediately.
I also processed the jar in a hot water bath. In a deep saucepan, heat water and place the jam jar upright and boil the water for 20-30 minutes. You can refer to this page for more details on this process. 
Leave the jar to cool down to room temperature. If you use a good canning jar, then the jam can be stored at room temperature for a year or so. Since I used an ordinary airtight glass jar, I allowed the jar to cool down overnight and then stored it in the refrigerator. 

Note:  Pectin acts as a gelling agent in jams and jellies. Pectin is a naturally occuring substance in most fruits and is activated and released when heated up. Apples, pears and citrus fruits have a high pectin content. However some fruits like berries have lower pectin content and to get the jam to set we could use pectin.  
Most commercially available pectin is in powder form and also has fumaric acid. The thumb rule is to use 1 tsp of pectin per cup of fruit. Please refer to the recipe provided along with the pectin package to calculate the exact quantity of pectin you need to add. I used the US brand "no-name" pectin. I purchased a packet on my recent visit to Canada and I find it good. 
You could totally omit the pectin too in this recipe. The jam will not be set like jelly and it will be easily spreadable. Only the consistency will be different. Otherwise there will be no difference.

Verdict: I could have reduced to sugar by 1/4 cup easily. It would have turned out just fine. It was a wee bit sweet for my taste but otherwise it was incredibly tasty! I see myself trying out other fruit jams and this one definitely is on my list of  "to make" items again.
priya's signature image at photobucket

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