Strawberry Jam

The following recipe is reprinted from Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, by Karen Solomon. Copyright © 2009, Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, Inc.

Strawberry jamSTRAWBERRY JAM
Makes about 10 (8-ounce) or 20 (4-ounce) jars

Time Commitment: 2 to 3 days

Unlike the cooperative apple, the accommodating cranberry, or the boil-it-and-it’s-done plum, the strawberry is a low-pectin fruit, which means that it and all other berries need a little boost to thicken up. In this case, the strawberries get help from the lemon and its seeds. This take on one of the most beloved of all jams is easy to make, but it’s a slow jam. I’ve found that the extra time is worth it to produce a flavorful finished product with stunning jewel-like color and an even distribution of berries.

Prep Ahead: A mammoth stockpot is required for this recipe as the fruit will create a tremendous amount of foam—about 4 times the volume of the fruit itself. Trust me, there is nothing worse than scrubbing sticky berry mess out from under the burner. You’ll need 10 half-pint jars, or their equivalent, for this cooking project. Make sure they are free of rust and odors and the lids seal tightly. If you are planning on giving these as gifts, make sure you indicate in some manner the contents and date prepared.

6 pints fresh, perfect, sweet strawberries
9 cups of sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 5 lemons), rinds (kept whole), and seeds reserved

Instructions: Wash, dry, stem, and slice (or chop) the berries. In a large bowl, toss them gently with the sugar and lemon juice; don’t bruise your fruit. Let them macerate for 4 to 8 hours to release their juice. Tie up the lemon seeds in cheesecloth or an empty tea bag.

Transfer the strawberries and the lemon rinds and seeds to a very large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 3 minutes, then turn the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Skim off the loads and loads of foam that will surface—this is best done with a large metal spoon. Remove as much of the foam as possible, as this will give your jam a clear, brilliant color. Allow the jam to cool in the pot, then transfer to a wide-mouthed bowl or baking dish. Discard the lemon rinds and seeds. Let the jam sit, uncovered, stirring occasionally, overnight. This will help the jam thicken and keep the fruit from separating from the syrup. If the jam is not to your desired thickness, allow it to sit for 1 more day.

Transfer the jam to jars, ensuring that the lip and threads of the jars remain clean and unsticky.

How to Store It Refrigerated: Refrigerate up to 4 months.

How to Can It: Macerate and then cook the jam as directed, but continue to simmer rapidly, stirring often, until it reaches the jell point, checked with a thermometer - you want it to register 221ºF - or the ice-cold plate test. This should take about 30 minutes. Ladle into sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, and process in a hot-water bath for 10 minutes.