Jam #1: Strawberry
So, I’ve been meaning to make some jam and the cheap strawberries littering the aisles of the supermarkets made me finally do it. The honey I used (in place of some of the sugar) was more expensive than the fruit. Granulated sugar would have been considerably cheaper.
First I had to look up macerated strawberries. Once I figured out what that meant, I got to it. Cut up the strawberries in small pieces, cover them in powdered sugar and put them in the fridge. You don’t have to be delicate. Smashing them into the jar with a wooden spoon is encouraged. I removed most of the white interior pith – later reading leads me to believe that might be discouraged.
My strawberries were slightly underripe though fully red. I didn’t use the whole container I bought, just filled up a quart mason jar. It started with the juice a little under half way up the jar. It ended almost to the top after a few hours.
Like Marisa I didn’t get around to making the jam for 3 days. I substituted honey for sugar at this stage. It wasn’t clear to me if I did that if I should use a cup (fluid 8 oz.) or some weight measure. I didn’t want to pour the viscous honed into my measuring cup, so I just squirted it from the bottle. Not knowing how much a cup of honey weighs, I eyeballed it and ended up with 7 oz (weight) in the pot.
After it got to boiling, I should have turned it down (from 8) but didn’t. While I was juicing a lemon for later I got a minor boil over. Reducing it to 5 and stirring it brought it back in line.
You are supposed to boil it down, reducing the volume until it’s 220° F. There is also a “spoon test” which sound more like an art than a science. Since this was my first time, I don’t yet have much art of jam making ability. I stuck with the science.
While my strawberry soup was boiling away I was also sterilizing (and warming) some 4 oz. jars. I wasn’t sure how many I would need, so overshot my estimate to be sure. I boiled 7 in preparation, but only needed 5 of them.
It changed from a bit foamy to a bit thick. You’ll recall that water boils at 212° F. Once the sugar starts to get concentrated, the boiling temperature rises. Once it got to about 216° F it became apparent that it needed more attention in the form of me stirring it regularly to keep the water density consistent throughout.
Once it got to 219° I stopped measuring it and just stirred it a bit more until it seemed right. The “spoon test” often talked about seemed to be presenting itself, too. So I cut the heat and added some lemon juice and stirred that in. Then I used the special jar funnel to fill up my little jars.
It seems a bit more jelled than I was expecting. I haven’t yet opened one or tasted it. The lickings from the pot were tasty.
Here’s my full recipe. I never got around to wrangling a vanilla bean, so that didn’t happen. I added some vanilla extract to the pot when I started just because.
- i qt. strawberries, macerated
- 1 cp. powdered sugar (i didn’t measure this so don’t know for sure)
- 7 oz. (by weight) light honey
- 1 oz. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract