One of the best ways to ensure you capture a bit of summer is to make Strawberry Jam. The house smelled heavenly all weekend long with the aroma of jam stewing on the stove (something I look forward to all year long). Many people think jam is an overly-complex process. Truth is, you can't really screw it up. If it turns out too thin and runny, it becomes ice cream topping. If too thick, spread it into a parchment-lined 9"x13" pan, cut into 1-inch squares, sprinkle with sugar, and you have jelly candies. Jam does take a little time, and needs to be stirred often to prevent burning (but I just try to catch-up on emails or get through the stack of magazines in the kitchen while the jam is cooking). Here is a simple, all-natural jam recipe I hope you will try.
Makes About 5 Pints*
8 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
5 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups peeled, cored and grated apples (like Granny Smith - about 3 apples)**
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or any kind of quality orange liqueur or Triple Sec)***
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat until a boil forms. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently, until bubbles become larger and slower (about 45 minutes to an hour). Jam should reduce to a little more than half to be considered done, or read at 220 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer.
3. Remove from heat and immediately ladle into hot jars or other containers. The jam can be canned (either in a hot-water bath or pressure canner, just follow manufacturer's recommendations) or refrigerated for about two weeks.
*This recipe can easily by halved to 4 cups strawberries, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup apples, 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, and 1 teaspoon salt.
**This recipe uses no commercial pectin. Apples are a natural source of pectin and help to thicken the jam.
***Orange or lemon juice is a fine alternative.
Stay tuned for more strawberry recipes (and be warned... June is National Dairy Month, so look out for recipes utilizing my favorite food group!).