Homemade jam that beats any store brand

By Samuel Smith, Columnist

My favorite part of summer is the huge variety of fruits available. My family has recently started stocking all sorts of berries and fruits. They’re great to top on Greek yogurt, throw into smoothies, or just as a quick snack on their own. I love to get strawberries and make strawberry jam. It’s super easy to make, and it tastes infinitely better than the store-bought stuff. This recipe works for virtually any berry.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints of strawberries (approximately 1 ½  pounds)
  • Sugar (You want the same amount of sugar as strawberries in weight. If you have 1 ½ pounds of strawberries, you’ll want 1 ½  pounds sugar)
  • Juice of ½ a lemon (about 1 ½  tablespoons – this is key!)

Place a plate into the freezer. This plate will be used at the end to quickly test if your jam is set (jelled).

Cut the tops off the strawberries and dice them up finely. Place them into a medium to large pot over medium-low heat.

Using a spoon (wooden is best, plastic may work, a fork will definitely work) mash the strawberries up. As you mash the berries, slowly add the sugar and make sure it dissolves. Then, add the lemon juice. Strawberries on their own do not have enough pectin to jell properly. The lemon juice helps the final product solidify. You will not taste the lemon juice.

Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the temperature to medium-high heat. This is where things can get kind of tricky. You want to bring the strawberries to a boil, but immediately bring it back down to a simmer (low to medium-low heat). If they boil too long, the sugar (both added and in the strawberries) can burn. 

Simmer the liquid jam for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally. You should notice it start to thicken, but it may not be noticeable.

After 15 minutes, take the cold plate out of the freezer. Using a spoon, dribble a little jelly on the plate. If it solidifies, you’ve got jam! If it doesn’t, wipe the plate off and stick it back into the freezer. Let the jam continue to simmer, and recheck with the plate every five minutes.

Once your jam has thickened, carefully pour it into a mason jar (I use an old pasta jar – about 24 ounces). Seal the jar with the lid and place it on the counter.

Allow the jam to cool to room temperature, this should take about 2-3 hours. Once the jam has cooled, place it in the refrigerator overnight.

As the jam cools, it will continue to thicken. The next day you can use it as normal.

 

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