Saturday, 6 July 2013

Anyone for Strawberries!

Summer has arrived at last in the UK! Temperatures in the next few days are set to hit the mid twenties. That's good news for all those watching or playing tennis at Wimbledon this weekend. I don't really watch much of the tennis but when I think of Wimbledon I think of strawberries and cream. Did you know that 28000kgs of strawberries along with 7000 litres of cream are consumed over the two week tournament? They are UK Grade one strawberries that are picked one day then delivered the next day to Wimbledon at 5.30am where they are inspected, hulled and served. A pot of strawberries and cream will only cost you £2.50. I thought it would be a lot more.

This week we have been enjoying strawberries too from our local market. As they were only £1 a punnet I bought 4 punnets and decided to make strawberry jam. This is really easy to make. You only need 3 ingredients - strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Jam needs pectin to help it set. Some fruits such as cooking apples. gooseberries and plums have a high pectin content and so will set easily. However strawberries are low in pectin and so need extra pectin in order to help it set. You can use jam (but this is double the price of granulated sugar) or you can use granulated sugar and add the juice of 1 or 2 lemons. It is a good idea to soak the strawberries overnight in the sugar. This helps to harden them off and stop them dissolving when making the jam. You don't need any fancy equipment for jam making. I use a heavy based saucepan rather than a preserving pan. I do have a sugar thermometer to help me see when the jam has reached its setting point (105C) but you can also use the plate method. Place a small plate in the freezer to chill for 10-15 minutes. When you think the jam is set you can test it by dropping a small spoonful on the plate and leaving to cool in the fridge for a few minutes. If the jam is set it will wrinkle when pushed lightly with your finger. When it is set leave it to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes as this stops the strawberries floating to the top when you bottle it. I use a funnel to pour it into sterilised jars and then seal with a wax disc and film lid. It will keep in a cool dry place for a few months, if there is any left by then!

Strawberry Jam
Makes 4-6 medium jars

1kg of strawberries
1kg granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Hull the strawberries and cut in half if large
Put into a large bowl with the sugar and leave to harden up overnight
The next day place the strawberries and sugar in a large heavy based pan
Add the lemon juice
Put the lid on and bring up to the boil
Boil for 10-15 minutes until it reaches 105C and is thickened
Meanwhile place a small plate in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to chill
To test whether the jam is set drop a small spoonful onto the chilled plate and cool in the fridge for a few minutes
If it is set it will wrinkle when pushed lightly with your finger
Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan
Then pour into sterilised jars and seal with a wax disc and film
To sterilise jars - wash in warm soapy water. Rinse then leave to dry on a baking sheet. Place in a preheated oven (180C) for 5-10 minutes. Pour the jam into the hot jars.

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