The jam and marmalade cupboard ran bare the other day. Breakfast is not the same without preserves.
Strawberry prices are a little high. Afterall, it’s still May. The Barnstaple pannier market has Combe Martin strawberries at £2.50 for 450g (1 lb to you and me). A punnet of Ashford fruit will set you back about £4.
Carefully picking through the market stalls, I found some good looking fruit at £1.75 a pound, albeit from Belgium. For budget conscious jam making, I’ll suspend any food mile issues.
And, what good berries they were… Virtually no wastage after two days in the fridge though a little over ripe for jam making.
St Delia provides the recipe:
- 4 lb strawberries
- 3 lb sugar
- 2 large lemons (I used 3 regular sized)
- a knob of butter
Hull the fruit, place in a maslin pan and sprinkle each layer with sugar. (Delia recommends using under ripe fruit – if you can find it – and leaving the fruit overnight to allow the sugar to dissolve – if you I had the foresight to do that.)
Gently heat to dissolve all the sugar. Avoid stirring to keep the fruit whole shake the pan to ensure all the sugar dissolves.
When dissolved add the lemon juice and bring to a vigorous boil.
The mixture should boil for 8 minutes. At this stage test your jam. Place some on a chilled dish, which you should have put in the freezer at step 1. When at room temperature, run your finger through the jam. It should crease if set.
If not set, return to the boil for another 4-5 minutes and repeat until set or if you wind up with a gloppy mess at the bottom of your pan.
When set, allow to cool for 15 minutes, pour into sterile jars and seal with wax disks and cover to keep airtight (I use wetted plastic disks held with a rubber band).
In my case, I can never get the setting right. Whilst preferring runny jam, I would have liked it to set a bit more yesterday. It was probably down to over ripe fruit, impatience and a little less sugar than called for in the recipe.
I’ll make another batch in a few weeks by which time prices will have come down to about £1.20 a pound. I’ll take care and add an extra lemon for additional pectin, that what helps set the jam.
Meanwhile, today’s breakfast was complete with delicious home made jam.
Addendum: the warm spring has also helped my own usually pathetic strawberry growing. A lot of fruits have set though they need more rain and warm weather to plump up. With any luck, there’ll be home grown fruit in a subsequent batch of jam.