A few weeks ago I made strawberry jam for a homemade Mother’s Day brunch (to be rolled up into some luscious sourdough crepes) and dolled up with some mascarpone-whipped cream. It was fun, it made me feel fancy and it impressed people. So naturally, I was hooked. I see many more jam-making endeavors in my near future! Store-bought jams (even the good brands, like Bonne Maman and Sarabeth’s) tend to to be a tad too sugary. Funny enough, I used a recycled Bonne Maman jar for this jam (those red & white checked lids are just too darned cute)! And although strawberry season is coming to an inevitable close, you may still be able to find some good farmers’ market berries and make this killer jam. I imagine it would work equally well with blueberries or blackberries, though you would probably need to up the sugar amount.
So for the method. Instead of just putting the fruit and sugar together in a pot and immediately cooking, you take a slower, more graceful approach, letting the berries macerate for several hours and overnight, creating a wonderful syrup that in turn, will create a lovely, jam.
I’ve made it twice now, experimenting with the cook time and it yielded two different results. The first time I made it I only cooked it for about 20 minutes and it yielded a runnier, syrup-like consistency (precisely what I was aiming for). It was a bright hue and tasted like most strawberry jams (but better)!
The second time around, by accident, I ended up cooking it for about 30-35 minutes or so, at a slightly higher temp. The bottom was starting to scald and get crusty and I was afraid it was ruined. The jam was a much darker hue, almost as if I had put balsamic vinegar in it. It was also thicker, less sweet and richer with more depth and complexity. So it it may have been an accident but it was a happy accident indeed, so let that be a testament to the fact that not all accidents are bad.
I love both versions and think they’re both equally delicious, they’re just different. So it depends on what you’re going for. .. Whichever you decide, this recipe is incredibly simple and guaranteed to be a hit with anyone you share it with (if you feel inclined to share).
2 lbs. fresh strawberries (rinsed thoroughly, hulled and halved)
1 cup of granulated sugar (or 1 1/2 cups if your strawberries aren’t as ripe or if you just prefer a sweeter jam)
Put the strawberries in a large bowl and toss with the sugar. Let sit to macerate for at least five hours (the longer the better), stirring every couple of hours. It’s best to start this in the mid-late afternoon. Transfer them to a large colander placed over a large bowl, to catch the juices. Cover the strawberries and colander in plastic wrap or with a towel and refrigerate overnight.
Transfer the strawberries and their juices to a large pot and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer over medium-medium low heat. Mash the strawberries some with a potato masher or a spoon and stir periodically (make sure the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn). Simmer for 20-40 minutes (depending on how thick or thin you want your jam). The longer you cook it, the less jam you will have. Remove from heat. Transfer to a jar (s), seal tightly and let sit in a hot water bath for about 10 minutes. Keep fresh in refrigerator.