Sarah made this jam on Christmas eve. It was the end of the day, and the end of trading at Prahran market, the last of the strawberries from Pino’s, punnets and punnets of them. So many, when they were washed they filled the sink and more. They had to be washed batch by batch. Sinkfuls of pink berries! So festive. Jason cleaned and sliced them all, sitting on a little stool, in Sarah’s little kitchen. By the end there were buckets and buckets of berries. As the jam bubbled away on the stove top, outside kids were squealing and yelling. The whole house smelt of jam, and even after Christmas, and for days later it was sugary sweet in there.
And now, for the new year, when it’s too hot to cook really, we have giant jars of strawberry jam. Notice how the form of the cut strawberry still holds in the jam. Slathered with French butter on leftover panettone, I can still see the little sides of the strawberries, so pink and speckled. A sweet toast feast for the first days of the year.
HNY to y’all, and if you’re in need of a calendar, there are some still available.
This recipe has been heavily adapted from the book Out of the Bottle by Sally Wise.
1.5 kg whole strawberries, cleaned, tops removed and rinsed
2 lemons worth of juice
800g caster sugar
⅓ cup of water
Place the sugar in a moderate oven on a tray and warm it until its hot to the touch. Take care not to melt the sugar or have it in the oven too long.
Once you have cleaned all the strawberries, and rinsed them well, place them in a large heavy bottomed pot with the lemon juice and water and bring to the boil. The strawberries will start to break down. Simmer until the fruit collapses a little and you can start to see the liquid come to the top. This will take around ten mins.
Take the sugar out of the oven and carefully spoon the sugar into the pot. Bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Cook the jam on a low to moderate heat for around an hour, or until the jam reaches setting point* (see tips for setting point below). The jam will take awhile to do this but its best not to stir too often, if at all. You will need to keep an eye on the colour of the jam, you want it to stay pink, and not go brown at all. You can start testing for setting point whenever you like, but its usually when the bubbles are starting to get thick and the jam looks viscose (like a boiling cauldron) it is ready.
Also, you might want to hang around in the kitchen as the jam could froth up and overflow! While you’re keeping an eye on your jam, sterilize some jars, washing them in soapy water, rinse and then let them dry in the oven. When jarring your jam, remove the jars from the oven and spoon the jam, while still warm, into the hot jars.
*There are a few ways to test setting point, I like to do both just to cover my bases.
Keep a saucer in the freezer place a teaspoon full on the very cold saucer. Set down for a minute and after that time draw a line through the jam with your finger. The jam should stay either side of your line. If its oozy, it needs more time.
The other way is to place your jam on a saucer and place the saucer in the fridge for one minute. Bring the saucer back out of the fridge and if the jam wrinkles on top when you poke it with your finger it is set.