Making jam at home is something I’ve been doing for a while, and it is something I seem to do whenever the mood gets me. In variably the jam making bug infects me when there’s a particular fruit is in season and I know it is not going to be around for too long. At that point I start looking around and then start figuring out what else I could make a jam out of and that’s how I have ended up making some rather unusual but very tasty jams, preserves and chuneys!
In India, the season from November through February is when a lot of fruits find their way to the market. Yes, winter (well, a large part of India does not have a true winter) is the time for things like strawberries, figs and the like.
This year, and I have no idea why, I just forgot about making jams or preserves. That is, until the end of last month when I was doing my routine clearing out of my kitchen.
Now I am a bit of a recycler of stuff, so I do tend to collect good glass bottle and jars with airtight lids for future use. I have many of them which are the same size and shape and I use these to store my spices and other stuff in the kitchen.
So, I was clearing out my kitchen shelves and came across a whole lot of empty bottles in one corner! There were too many for me to keep and some needed to be given away. It was while wondering how many to keep, that it struck me that I hadn’t “jammed” yet for this season. Close behind also came the realization that I had about 2 weeks of good strawberry season left.
So I got into a “jamming” spree and made a few jams and put those empty bottles and jars to good use.
The easiest way to make jam out of most fruit is to cook it with sugar and whatever else you might like to add to it for taste and to preserve it for as long as you would like.
I wanted to see if there was a different way of making strawberry jam. Some searching for recipes threw up a lot of options but 2 recipes stood out.
The first one has just strawberries and sugar but uses loads of vanilla beans! Great idea, in my opinion, but it would using up my stash of jealously gaurded vanilla beans.
The other one was a detailed recipe (with video) and what caught my attention here, was the addition of a bit of butter to the jam! This adds a shine to the jam. This jam also requires allowing the strawberries to sit in the sugar overnight before proceeding to make jam.
So I made my strawberry jam taking a little bit from both recipes (vanilla beans from the first, and the butter and overnight resting technique from the second), and then adding some stuff of my own. The result was a truly yummy strawberry jam.
I think I have found my “keeper” strawberry jam recipe!
Very Yummy Strawberry Jam
5 cups strawberries
1 apple, cored and grated (not peeled)
2 cups granulated sugar (or more if needed)
3 vanilla beans
3/4 tsp salt
zest and juice of 2 lemons
Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut each into 2 and put into a deep bowl. Slit the vanilla beans into 2 and add to the strawberries. Add the sugar to the strawberries and mix very well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.Next day, take the strawberries out of the fridge. The sugar would have drawn the juice out of the strawberries.Put this into a large and deep heavy walled pot. Add more sugar at this point, if your strawberries need it.
Add the salt, grated apple, the lemon juice and zest and mix. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. The sugar will froth up and this is why a large pot is necessary. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring well in between.Turn down the heat a bit and allow the strawberries to cook till very soft. Using a potato masher, break down the strawberries a bit so the jam is smoother but with small pieces of fruit.
Cook till the jam is done and passes the “plate” test. Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars and cover tightly.I had enough jam to fill three 500gm jars.