So, I told you all about the delicious Struan loaves I baked and how Struan is the ultimate toasting bread. Believe me, ever since that bread has made its appearance, our toaster is working overtime! Slathering that crisp, toast with lashings of butter has been heavenly, but I decided we should really have some proper to jam to go along with it as well. I have never actually made jam at home. I only have a vague recollection of my mother canning when I was really young. Smuckers has been the main stay for most of my adult life. However, buoyed by my recent bread success, I somewhat anxiously decided to go ahead and try my hand at home-made Strawberry Balsamic Jam. Had I been thinking ahead, I would have called one of my closest friends, Theresa Storey, to find out all I would need to know about making jam. Theresa owns The Green Apron Artisan Preserve Company in Limerick Ireland.
Her family has been making and selling their award-winning jams for over 30 years and are listed in the Bridgestone Best of Ireland Guide. She even teaches a Home Preserving Workshop! A no-brainer huh? I know an expert! However, I didn’t decide to set out on my jam making odyssey until about 6 pm EDT. That meant it was 11 pm in Ireland and I didn’t think it would be prudent to call anyone for an instructional pep talk at that hour. I didn’t want to wait until the next day, for fear I wouldn’t actually go through with it and my mouth was really watering at the thought of the wonderful jammy toast I would be eating for breakfast in the morning. So, I did call my Mom to get all of her advice on the in’s and out’s of canning and searched around for recipes online.
Hooked on this season’s strawberries, I knew I wanted strawberry jam. After much searching and nail-biting, I decided on the recipe. I really didn’t change much about it. I did increase the sugar. The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, but I chose to use 3 cups.
I was anxious that the jam wouldn’t set properly with such a low amount of sugar and no pectin (sure-jell) added in. Robin, at A Chow Life, had even tried to assuage her readers fears about this jam not setting in her original post. She said that the addition of the lemon juice and a longer cooking time would do the trick for this jam – no extra pectin was needed. I should have listened. My jam set up like a champ!
I think it would have also done so without that extra cup of sugar. Next time I will try it with the 2 cups of sugar as stated in the original recipe. One other change I made was that I added 1 teaspoon of butter to the mix. I had read that this would cut down on the amount of foaming that occurred while the jam was cooking. I actually had very little foam at all. Indeed I didn’t need to skim the jam once. So my first foray into jam-making was a success and I’m already planning my next endeavour – blueberry I think. But in the meantime, excuse me while I ponder the possibilities over my scrumptious jammy Struan toast!
- 3 lb. strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. butter
Place a small plate into the refrigerator to chill. This will be used to test the jam consistency later.
On another burner, place the strawberry mixture,balsamic vinegar and butter into a pot and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Using a potato masher, mash the strawberries so they are not chunky, but fairly smooth. Boil, stirring frequently and skimming off the foam, for approximately 20 minutes. You can use a metal spoon to shave the foam off the boiling jam (it will not combine with the jam so it must be removed). Then, reduce heat and cook at a slow boil, skimming occasionally and stirring frequently to prevent scorching as jam thickens. This may take 35 minutes to 1 hour. Test the jam by placing a small spoonful of it onto the chilled plate and refrigerate 1 minute. Tilt plate and jam should not run down the plate
Drain jars on a clean dish towel. Ladle the jam into the jars leaving 1/4 inch room between the jam and the top of the jar. Remove lids from the boiling water with magnetic wand or canning tongs making sure you do not touch the outer rim of the jar and contaminate the sterilized jars. Screw rims onto jam jars. Using tongs, pick up the full jam jars and place them back into the boiling water for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, remove the jars and place them on the towel. As they cool, you should hear a ping type noise which tells you the jam jars are sealed. When you push down in the center of the top of the jar, there should be no click noise. Once they’ve sealed, tighten the rims and let the jam rest for one day before eating. (I actually gobbled mine down much sooner…no will power on the jam front I guess!)