With the abundance of fresh British strawberries in June, this is the best time to make strawberry jam. Last weekend we went to a farm in Surrey, just outside London, and we picked two kilos of strawberries. The next day my mum and I made strawberry jam and filled four jars that will last until the winter.
PYO farms are always a good idea. It is so fun to pick your own produce whether it’s strawberries and raspberries in summer, or apples and pumpkins in autumn. It’s a great way to get out of the city and spend a day outdoors, besides anyone from kids to adults (to parents and in-laws!) can enjoy it. It can be an all-round family activity.
The farm we went to is Crockford Bridge PYO Farm, it was small compared to others I’ve been to before, but the perfect spot for our little family outing. We spent one hour in the field picking strawberries and rhubarb (yes, we also made rhubarb jam!), then had lunch in the farm’s restaurant and bought groceries in the farm shop.
Making jam is an easy way to use fruit, so next time you see strawberries at a bargain price at your local market, you know what you need to do. (No need to spend £3 per punnet at the supermarket!)
Homemade jams are better than store-bought ones because you can control the amount of sugar you use. I often find jams to be overly sweet for me. For this recipe I used 2kg of strawberries, but just 1kg of sugar. And because strawberries naturally contain small amounts of pectin (ie. the agent that cause jams to gel), I used “jam sugar”. This type of sugar already contains the right amount of natural pectin that certain fruits lack such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, blueberries, cherries, pears, peaches, rhubarb and loganberries.
To make the jam I used my mum’s recipe and left the strawberries to macerate with sugar and lemon juice for several hours before cooking them. This way, the cooking time is shorter than usual since the strawberries have already released their juice. It took us around 40 minutes to make the jam (after the strawberries had already been left to soak in sugar). The next morning I had my jam recipe for breakfast!
To store the jam and preserve its flavour I used high quality jam jars from Le Parfait. The French brand is considered one of the world’s leading manufacturers of preserve and glass store jars. I love the look of their jars, so simple and classic.
Wash and cut the strawberries and place them in a large bowl.
Add only 1/3 of the sugar and lemon juice. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
When you’re ready to make the jam, put four small plates into the freezer – these are to test for a set later.
Separate the strawberries from the strawberry juice. Pour the juice in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the remaining 2/3 of sugar.
Place the pan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly.
When the juice has reached the consistency of syrup, add the strawberries into the pan.
Boil for another 20 minutes, checking the setting point every minute or so during the last 10 minutes. To check if the jam is ready, put a teaspoonful on to one of the chilled plates and allow it to cool completely. Then push the mixture with your little finger – if it begins to crinkle and sit up proudly without any liquid running out, the jam is set.
Fill your Le Parfait Jars with the jam, as hot as possible, leaving 1cm headspace just below the rim. Seal the jars.
Place a tea cloth in a large pan and stand the jars on it, to avoid direct contact with the bottom of the pan. Pour in hot water and bring to the boil, make sure there is enough water to completely immerse the jars. Once cooled take out the Le Parfait Jars and store them upright in a cool dry place away from the light.
If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing, and just refrigerate.
Disclaimer: this post was written in collaboration with Le Parfait. All opinions are my own.