When I was at the farmer's market on Saturday, I was stopped in my tracks as I caught a whiff of pure strawberry .The quart containers at Abenaki Springs farm were filled with tiny, almost-wild, ripe strawberries, so juicy and perfect and perfumed I couldn't pass them up. As I walked along, clutching the berry stained box, I knew this time the berries weren't going on shortcakes or cereal, but for a perfect jar of homemade jam.
I use an English farmhouse recipe for jam. What I love about the recipe is that it uses no pectin ( so you don't end up with rubbery, too stiff jam) and also I can make a small batch, just one or two jars. This jar is enormous – about 2 1/2 cups, so I ended up with just this one jar ( which is going fast!).
To make jam:
1 pound of hulled strawberries
juice from 1 1/2 lemons
1 3/4 cups warmed sugar
clean jars and lids
Wash out a heavy stockpot ( clean is the word when making jam). Wash your jars and put lids and jars in simmering water for at least ten minutes. Using tongs, turn jars upside down on a clean dishtowel until needed.
Turn your oven to low, let heat up a little, then turn off. Put the sugar in the bowl, put the bowl in the oven, and warm the sugar just barely.
In the stockpot, mash the berries and add the lemon juice. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the warmed sugar.
Cook on a low boil, stirring constantly, until the jam looks thick and two drops of jam slowly come together from a lifted wooden spoon. This should be about 15 or 20 minutes.
Ladle the jam into the clean jars, screw on the lids, and let sit on a folded towel. I knew I was using this right away, so I just covered the hot jam in the jar with plastic wrap. Later, I put on a little paper lid and tied it with twine.
Jam made this way is softer than the usual jam. If for some reason your jam doesn't jell, you can use it on cake and ice cream or stirred into oatmeal or yogurt.
So welcome summer and berry season! If you pick smaller amounts ( under a quart box full) just stick the berries in the freezer until you have enough for jam.