11 July 2008

Keep Jammin'

No excuses this time. The latest hiatus is just due to my laziness to blog after a day's of work at my internship company. So, after a full month of non-blogging action, I'm continuing with my strawberry phase with homemade strawberry jam!

Previously, I've done a brief introduction on Korean strawberries. This time I used their American counterparts. I would have bought the Korean strawberries if they were still available when I was at Carrefour, but the US strawberries were the only ones left. As previously stated, I found the US strawberries much bigger (mostly) than the Korean ones but usually were more bruised, probably from the rough packing and travelling. They were about to die quite a horrible death on the shelves and I had quite a hard time choosing the best 2 punnets for my jam making. But it wasn't all bad since they were even cheaper than stated and I paid only S$8.90 for 2 pounds of awfully ripe strawberries. Being very ripe (you know, almost turning black), they were very very fragrant and really sweet. My family ate almost 1 pound while I hulled and cut the strawberries to make jam. In the end I only had a little over 500g of strawberries left to make jam but it was all good since I didn't have too many jam jars on hand either.

Jam making, apparently, seems to be quite a daunting task for many, but it's really quite easy! All you do is boil the cut fruit and sugar in a pot to the desired consistency and you'll have nice bottles of jam for toast every morning. The tiring part probably is to keep an eye on the jam and stir it almost constantly so that it doesn't burn. I like my jams thicker for easy spreading on toast and whatnots so I've stated a longer cooking time. Some recipes include the addition of pectin for better jelling but I didn't think it was necessary after perusing recipes that I've found online. There's also a cold saucer test that might be quite useful though I didn't rely on that. The recipe I followed mainly was Mae's recipe but hers was more syrupy and I also think the ripeness of the strawberries affect the jelling effect. So just adjust cooking time to your liking.

Strawberry Jam
(Makes 2 - 3 275ml jars)

500g strawberries
300g sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice

- Wash, hull and quarter the strawberries. You can als
o half them (for a more chunky jam like Mae's) or blitz a portion in the food processor. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine sugar, lemon juice and zest and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the strawberries and stir gently until it comes to a boil.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for 40 - 60mins depending on the consistency you like. I cooked mine for 60mins. For a thicker jam, you can do a test with a cold saucer (popped into the freezer before you start cooking), drop a bit of jam onto the saucer and leave for a few seconds. If the jam still runs like a liquid, cook for another 10mins and test again. It's advisable to start testing at about 40mins and gradually increase the cooking time. You can also taste the jam and add more sugar if desired.
- Fill the jam into sterilised jam jars leaving about 1cm from the brim(careful it's hot!) and screw on the cap tightly. Let cool. For more presentable jam to be used as gifts, spoon off the foam on the jam before filling into the jars. I didn't bother because I thought it was quite a waste of beautiful jam.

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