One of the great things about living here is the variety and availability of fresh produce and we’re now right in the middle of strawberry season. Locally grown QLD strawbs are ridiculously cheap right now and a long, dry winter with cool nights and warm days means there’s plenty of them. In a moment of madness, I picked up a box of them at my local market at Rocklea, thinking it would be nice to make a couple jars of jam.
Just a shade under 10kg of strawberries for $12. That’s cheaper than spuds. At this point I’m starting to think I may have got a little carried away here…
Even as a fan of strawberry jam, 30-odd jars of the same flavour might get a little boring, so it’s time to experiment. Using a standard recipe that’s worked well for me in the past, I decided to mix things up a little.
Basic Strawberry Jam
2kg hulled strawberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
Pectin as required . With ripe fruit like this, you’ll need some. A 50g packet of Jamsetta works well. I personally don’t get all hung up about about exactly the perfect jam consistency. Anything between “Pour” and “Slice” is good for me.
Smash the strawbs . A solid potato masher and some elbow grease will do the job nicely.
When smashed, put into a large stainless saucepan with the lemon juice, stir the pectin in and bring to a boil.
Add the sugar, stir in to mix and boil for a few minutes, skimming off foam as required.
Then pour into your prepared jars and process or seal. I use Mason jars and a water-bath as they’re dead easy but use what you prefer. And that’s it. Simple.
Along with the basic recipe, I tried a few variants. Use the same recipe as above, but make the following changes:
Strawberry and Vanilla Jam
Almost trifle in a jar this. (Memo to self – perhaps try some almond essence or Amaretto for a really trifley jam next time. This could work…)
Take a couple of vanilla beans, split them lengthways and add the seeds to the strawberries at the same time as you add the lemon juice.
Strawberry and Pepper Jam
Don’t overdo the pepper, but a tablespoon of freshly ground pepper ( I used one of those fancy mixed peppercorn blends) stirred through the jam just prior to putting in jars gives it a very subtle warmth and helps to accentuate the berry flavour.
Strawberry, Balsamic and Mint Jam
Replace half of the lemon juice with 3 tablespoon of good balsamic vinegar (Pro-tip – Balsamic and roast garlic salad dressing is NOT an option. Don’t ask.) and add a couple of sprigs of finely chopped mint with it. Restraint is the key here. Subtle is what we’re aiming for. The balsamic amplifies the bass notes of the strawberries and the mint gives it a lift at the end. Makes for a great teatime jam.