All are tasty. All are special. Fancy, even.
There's some level of expectation inherent in fancy jam. You have to make an effort. Try harder, somehow, to be worthy of the jam. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is a different class of jam.
I need some low-maintneance jam.
An everyday, go-to kinda jam. Something that will be happy smeared on toast.
I want a stash of jam that I can feel good about eating while wearing wrinkly pjs and slippers...at noon.
This is that jam.
Sweet, fresh strawberry shines through here. It holds up to a spoon well. It has the required spreadable texture to create an evenly thick, jammy layer over a butter-soaked crispy slab of toasty bread.
It is unpretentiously strawberry jam. Because sometimes you just want plain old strawberry jam, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Nothing at all.
I have worked poor Mr. Virant and Ms. Ferber quite hard over the last few days with the frenzy of strawberry jam making, plus my other cookbooks were feeling neglected and starting to sulk. For this one I moved on to The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders and River Cottage Handbook No. 2: Preserves, by Pam Corbin.
They call her Pam the Jam. Ingrid the Jam doesn't have nearly the same ring to it, unfortunately. I am anxiously awaiting delivery of her Cakes book, which will be carried over by The British Guy's sister's son (that's James the Nephew to us) in a few weeks when he visits.
I used the volumes (more or less) from Blue Chair's Children's Strawberry Jam, but the method (more or less) from River Cottage Strawberry Jam. I made my own jam sugar, which is an absolutely ingenious British product that has the pectin in the sugar already.
Let's pause a moment to truly appreciate the genius of this: in the sugar already.
Only in a country where jam and jelly making is so near to people's hearts would they sell something like this.
We need some, people. Somebody make this.
You can make your own by adding powdered pectin to white sugar with a ratio of 13 grams pectin per kilo of sugar. My conversion to imperial units was sloppy but satisfyingly easy to achieve: 2 tablespoons per 5 cups.
Since I added some sugar early for macerating, I saved all the pectin for the end.
You know what? It worked a treat.
Wibbly wobbly strawberry jam with a perfect set.
How I heart you, pectin.
Below, British Guy practices his modeling skills by expertly holding the spoon. He wants you to know that he was the official (hard-working, long-suffering) strawberry jam taste-tester, and he likes this one best.
SUMMARY, Jam #4:
Time: 3 days, mostly hands-off.
Volume of berries: 4.2 lbs or 2 kg
Volume of Product: 8 to 9, 1/2 pint jars
Flavor: Sweetly strawberry.
Set: Spoonable and spreadable.
Thoughts: Good eatin' every day preserve. Toast longs for this jam.
Continue on for the jam recipe.
Strawberry Jam with Pectin.
4.2 pounds or 2 kg strawberries
2 lb 12 ounces or 6 1/3 cups, or 1250 g white sugar, divided in half
6 ounces or 190 g lemon juice, divided in half
2 tablespoons or 17 g powdered pectin
You will also need a large non-reactive glass or metal bowl, a very large pot and 9 sterilized 1/2 pint canning jars, lids and bands.
Gently rinse the strawberries and allow to air dry. Remove the stem and hull from each berry. Quarter berries larger than 1 1/2 inches (ca. 4 cm), and halve berries larger than 3/4 inch (2 cm). For berries smaller than 1/2 inch (1.25 cm), leave whole.
Mix the strawberries with about half of the sugar (3 1/3 cups or 625 g) and half of the lemon juice (3 ounces). Leave to macerate for 12 hours or overnight. If it is cool, you can leave them on the counter. If it is warm, refrigerate.
Pour the now juicy strawberry-sugar mixture into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for a minute. Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then carefully pour into a large heat-proof bowl and refrigerate overnight. When cold, cover with a sheet of waxed paper, making sure that the berries are all fully submerged in the juice. The berries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days at this stage.
Measure out the remaining white sugar (3 cups or 625 g) into a bowl. Add the pectin powder and mix until combined.
Transfer the strawberry syrup mixture to a large pot. Bring to a simmer and add the pectin sugar blend, stirring until dissolved. When the sugar is dissolved, add the remaining lemon juice (3 ounces) and bring to a full rolling boil. Continue to boil until the mixture reaches 221 degrees F, which should take between 15 and 20 minutes.
NOTE: This foams rapidly and voluminously, so be sure to use a very large pot and do not leave unattended for even a second. If it threatens to foam over, turn down the heat and stir to dissipate the foam. You can also add a small (1/2 teaspoon) pat of butter as you bring it to a boil, which helps dampen the excessive foaming remarkably well and does not affect the taste or shelf life of the jam.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
Fill up the canning jars according to proper canning protocols, making sure that the strawberries are distributed evenly. Process according to your favorite method.
Store in a cool, dark place. Lasts up to year.