A highlight of summer's arrival is the return of strawberries to the farmers' markets in the area. These fruits are great to eat as is; fresh from the farmer's market, they are bright and sweet like candy. However, strawberries can be used in other applications-- they can be a fresh fruit topping for a sweet item, or a sauce for a dessert.
We were inspired to make strawberry jam after we saw Ina Garten making strawberry jam in two episodes of Barefoot Contessa. She stated that the process is really simple, and it really is! Our version of strawberry only has three ingredients--lemon, rock sugar, and strawberries--and the whole process can be done in less than an hour. Personally we like to use rock sugar for the clean, cool sweetness that it provides, but feel free to experiment with various types of sugars, as substituting different sugars will result in jams with a different flavor profile.The lemon provides a brightness to the taste of the jam that helps accentuate the strawberries' flavor.
The ability to control the texture and the sweetness of the jam is a fabulous reason to make jam at home; although store-bought jams may be convenient, homemade jams can be made exactly to the individual's liking. It takes only one hour to have a product that captures summer in one bite! We have already made this jam recipe twice and have really enjoyed the fruits of our labor.
Strawberry Jam(makes approximately 35 ounces of jam)
3 pints fresh strawberries
1/4-1/2 cup rock sugar (the amount depends on your taste, so try the jam while making it)
Juice of one lemon (optional- add for a slightly sour/bright component to the jam)
1. Prepare the strawberries. Clean the strawberries and let dry. After, stem the strawberries and cut larger strawberries into halves/fourths. Miniscule strawberries can be left whole.
2. Place the prepared strawberries into a pot, and set the heat to medium. No water is necessary, as the strawberries will begin to release water as they heat up.
4. Turn down the heat to between medium and low when liquid starts to seep from the strawberries. Cook for approximately 20 minutes. Stir the mixture every minute or so, and when the sugar has completely melted, try the liquid to see if it is sweet enough; if necessary, add additional amounts of sugar. Around the last five minutes of cooking, add the lemon juice. The lemon juice will help thicken the mixture and will also provide some brightness to the jam's taste.
5. After cooking, remove the layer of foam from the top of the jam. Although it is edible (feel free to put the foam on a piece of bread and enjoy), when cooled, the foam does not meld in to the jam.
(Strawberry + Strawberry Jam + Two Scoops of Fresh and Easy's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream = A Tasty Treat)
6. Enjoy! Have fun tasting the jam by itself and using it on toast or mixing it with vanilla ice cream to make strawberry ice cream.
You can store the jam by putting the jam into sterilized containers; it serves as a great gift for friends!
P.S. If you do not know how rock sugar looks like, here is an image of a piece of rock sugar:
You can find rock sugar typically in your local Asian supermarket. It is usually packaged in boxes.