This week I was astonished to find see that strawberries are £2.00 for a 400 gram punnet (or £2.50 for a 300 gram punnet of organic strawberries). It’s a long time since I have bought strawberries and I didn’t realise they are so expensive and I would like to bet they don’t taste half as nice as homegrown ones, as shop bought strawberries are usually grown for their ‘long shelf life’ rather than taste.
If you read my post on Friday, you will know that I am having a bumper crop of strawberries this year.
We have been eating them on their own, or with yoghurt, or with a sprinkling of sugar and my youngest daughter has even been dipping them into melted chocolate. They are delicious.
I have also frozen lots of them, by laying the washed and hulled strawberries on a tray and then freezing them. When they are frozen I put the strawberries into bags. This way, they don’t all stick together and it is easy to just pick a few out of the bag when I need them.
I use the frozen strawberries to make cordials, pies etc and my daughters like them in fruit salads (though they do go a bit mushy when they are defrosted).
I also use them to make jams for the christmas hampers that I give away to my family:
Over the weekend I made another batch of strawberry jam for my daughter, as it’s her favourite.
Strawberries are quite low in pectin and pectin helps the jam to set. I normally remedy this by just adding a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to my jam, as this is high in pectin and helps it to set. However, I thought I would try an experiment this time, to find out if ‘Jam Sugar’ with the pectin already added, would make a better jam, as lots of recipes recommend you to use this:
So this is how I made the jam with the jam sugar:
Strawberry Jam Using Jam Sugar:
2 kg Strawberries
2 kg Jam Sugar
Before I started, I put some side plates into the freezer for a few hours. I used these later to test for the ‘setting point’
I washed and hulled the strawberries
I put the strawberries and jam sugar into a large pan (the contents rise as it boils)
I put the pan onto a low heat and stirred comtinuously with a wooden spoon.
I continued stirring until the sugar melted and I couldn’t see any sugar crystals on the back of my spoon
At this point I turned the heat right up and boiling hard. I always find that jam burns at the bottom of my pan if I just leave it to boil, so I stir the jam continuously, though other recipes don’t tell you to do this.
After approximately 5 minutes of boiling I tested for the ‘setting point’. To do this, I put a small drop of jam on one of the side plates from the freezer. After a few moments, I push the jam with my finger and if it wrinkles it’s ready. If it doesn’t wrinkle, I continue to boil the jam.
I usually keep checking the jam every five minutes until the setting point is reached.
When the setting point was reached I took the pan off the heat and stirred in a knob of butter to reduce the skum off the top of the jam. I then left it for fifteen minutes, which helps to stop the strawberries from dropping to the bottom of the jars.
While I was waiting I sterilised eight jam jars by placing them in my oven, gas mark 4 for 5 minutes.
I poured the jam into the jars and sealed them with the lids. I used jars that have a sealable lid (i.e. the jars that jam is sold in, at the supermarket). This way I don’t need to worry about wax discs to create a seal. As the jam cools, the lids ‘pop’ down and make you jump.
I managed to make eight jars out of the ingredients and the jam sugar was £1.99 per kg. This worked out at just under 50p per jar, which is still cheaper than shop bought jam, however if I had used ordinary granualted sugar and lemon juice, the jars would have worked out at 25p per jar.
My Review Of Jam Sugar
So did the jam set better?….
When I was making the jam, it reached setting point far quicker than my method of using granulated sugar and lemon juice.
When I used the jam, was it any better?
Unfortunately the answer is “No”, it was the same as my jam.
Would I buy and use Jam Sugar again?
No, I don’t think it is worth the money. Please let me know your thoughts on this.
My Tips For Jam Making:
Just to let you know, the pan I use to make jam is a ‘maslin’ pan which is deep enough for jam making. Mine was second hand, which I purchased for £10 from ebay and it was worth every penny.
Jam making is easy once you have got the hang of it. If you haven’t made jam before, I have written some tips below to help you:
Clean equipment – Always use equipment that is scupulously clean and jars that have been sterilised.
Fruit – Always use undamaged fruit. Fruit with too much damage will spoil the result and the jam is likely to deteriorate quickly.
Pectin – Jams, jellies and marmalade set because of pectin. Pectin occurs naturally in fruit and when cooked with sugar the naturally occurring acid in the fruit, thickens and sets the preserve. Citrus fruit, blackberries, apples and redcurrants have high pectin levels. Soft fruits such as strawberries have a lower pectin level. If fruits are low in pectin then you can add fruits with a higher level of pectin to it or just add a few squeezes of lemon juice which will help them to set. When possible use slightly under ripe fruit when pectin levels will be at the highest.
Sugar – I use granulated but you can use preserving sugar, but it is more expensive. Preserving sugar will help set low-pectin fruits, but I just add lemon juice to granulated sugar, which does the same job.
Quantity – Don’t make too large a quantity at one time. Large volumes of fruit and sugar will take a long time to reach setting point, causing the fruit to break up and eventually dissolve in the jam.
To test for the setting point – Place a few small plates or saucers in to your freezer for a while before you start to make jam, so they are really cold. Pour a small drop of the hot jam on to the plate and wait a few moments. Push the edges of the jam with your index finger and if the jam wrinkles then the setting point has been reached. If it’s not set, continue to boil it and check again in 5 minutes. Don’t overcook. It is tempting to keep cooking to achieve a firmer set. A slightly looser jam is preferable to one that tastes burnt or where the fruit has dissolved. Don’t worry if you didn’t judge your jam setting point correctly and it’s runny, just call it a ‘preserve’ instead.
Scum – There is always a little bit of scum on the jam after the setting point has been reached. Skim it off with a ladle or add a tiny knob of butter and stir. This will dissolve the scum almost instantly.
Leave the jam to settle – Always leave the jam for 15 mins away from the heat, once the setting point has been reached. This will prevent the fruit from rising to the surface of the jar when you pour it in.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.
I will be back on Friday at my usual time of 4pm. Have a good week.