This is the season for fresh strawberries and while they are ripe and ready to eat by themselves, it is also the best time to make homemade jam. Amazingly easy to make and not at all time consuming, this straight forward recipe takes the fear out of preserving. Pectin is a natural ingredient in fruits and when an acid such as lemon juice and a sweetener like sugar are added and heated, they react with one another and create a jelly-like consistency. The trick is to find the right balance between the ingredients so they react accordingly. When cooking fruit, it really is important to watch your pot and make adjustments as it cooks. Test the consistency, watch that it doesn’t over cook and don’t be afraid to make a mistake. If your jam doesn’t set you can always use it as a dessert sauce.
A very helpful website that I use to guide me through the process is pick your own and the national center for home preserving they both have loads of information both technical and easy reference that can answer any question you may have.
Pectin and Acid Content of Common Fruits Used to Make Jams and Jellies
|Group I:||If not overripe, it usually has enough natural pectin and acid for gel formation with only added sugar.|
|Group II:||Low in natural acid or pectin, and may need addition of either acid or pectin.|
|Group III:||Always needs added acid, pectin or both.|
|Group I||Group II||Group III|
Grapes (Eastern Concord)
Plums (not Italian)
Citrus skins (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes, etc. – the pectin is high in the skin but low in the fruit)
Grapes (California, and all other than Concord)
Grapes (Western Concord)
Grape Juice, bottled
Plums (Italian) Oranges
Read more at http://www.pickyourown.org/pectin.htm#pectinconc#zoQUXsSq3m3Ms0Mp.99
12 oz jam
1 pound hulled strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 granny smith apple, grated
Hull the strawberries and smash with a potato masher until strawberries are mashed into small bits.
Add the sugar, lemon juice and grated granny smith apple.
Place in a heavy bottomed pan and cook over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves stirring to blend all ingredients.
Boil for 20 min removing any white foam that may come to the surface.
Test for consistency 20 minutes after it has cooked by placing a spoonful on a plate and dragging your finger through the center. The jam shouldn’t be liquid but rather close to a jam consistency. You may need to cook the jam 5 min longer. Make sure you don’t burn the bottom, pay attention as it cooks you can always remove it from the flame and it will continue to cook until desired texture is reached.
Remember the consistency can vary depending on the fruit. Making preserves with other types of fruits or a mixture of fruits can be equally as easy and always leave room for having fun and experimenting. This is a terrific web site for jars and helpful tips. http://www.freshpreserving.com/