Last week our fruit shop had strawberries - 2 punnets for $5.00. So I bought a kilo and made jam again. It's so easy - if the strawberries are sweet you need about 1/2 to 2/3 of the weight of the strawberries in sugar, and the juice of a lemon. Cook the strawberries and sugar and lemon juice until either it passes the set test (put a spoonful on a very cold plate and push your finger through it - if it stays apart like the red sea (or oozes slowly back) it is set) OR cook until the colour darkens to a deep raspberry. Pour into sterilized jars (10 mins in boiling water) and hand it out to friends with a big smile!!!
I haven't yet had the need to add pectin, home made or otherwise, as my jam seems to set even though straweberries and raspberries have very little or no pectin at all. I believe its the lemon juice that does it, and boiling it until most of the liquid goes away (being very careful that it does not catch, of course!!).
I read a very clever and entertaining book a year or so ago - The Apricot Colonel by Marion Halligan. One of the protaginists was a keen maker of apricot jam, and she describes his process. One of the key rules, he confides to our heroine, is to skim the jam as it is boiling, removing the white froth, as this is the key to gleaming jewel-like tones.
This last combination was inspired by the fabulous breakfast we had at Luxe a couple of weeks ago - the Sleeping Engineer had some on his sourdough toast.
Rhubarb, Strawberry and Apple Jam
1 bunch rhubarb
2 punnets strawberries
1 granny smith apple
Juice 1 lemon
6 tablespoons white sugar (or to taste)
Wash, then chop the rhubarb into 1cm lengths (1/2 inch). Slice the green top off the strawberries and cut them in half if small, quarters if large. Peel and chop the apple.
Put all in a saucepan and heat rapidly until the rhubarb softens, stirring often. Add the sugar, then as the liquid comes to the boil, begin to skim. You may need to do this a few times. Let the liquid reduce for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. The heat should be high enough that there is a steady bubbling, but not so high that the jam burns.
When it looks thick enough (remember that it will thicken as it cools) or passes the set test, pour into sterilised jars and label with your name and date!