Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Strawberry Jammin'!

Hi everyone! I’m back again, and I have definitely missed posting my food adventures. As you can see, I’ve changed my layout a bit and embraced more of a minimalist slant. Hope you like it too!
Well, I’ve just finished having a very interesting tea that included toast and strawberry jam. Not store bought, mind you, but my own home made version. Kinda strange, right? I mean, being Trini, we all know about guava jam, sorrel jam, mango jam... traffic jam… Even Granny used to make a wicked guava jam back in the day, and it went deliciously well with her home made bread. 

However, this strawberry adventure began when I received some delicious strawberries from my friends at Market Movers (Thanks guys!). My intent was to bake them into something equally delicious, but after washing them and seeing them looking all deliciously red and plump, the vaps came and kicked me hard to make some jam.

Mind you, I hadn’t made jam in “donkey” years, but like riding a bike, I never forgot how.

So, I carefully washed these lovely fresh, firm strawberries, removed the tops and cut them into fours.

I measured exactly four cups of the fruit. You can see there were a few half ripe ones in there, but that’s fine. (By the way, I also put a saucer in the freezer… you’ll see why later.)

Transferred the strawberries to my cooking pot. Next I added in some lime zest, the juice of half the lime and a cup of sugar.

Put my flame on medium high and watched it closely as it came to a foamy boil. Once it started bubbling away, I began stirring. You see, the thing with jam is that you have to keep your eye on it and stir it constantly. It’s not one of those things that you can walk away from once you start. Jam can burn in the blink of an eye. Trust me.

After about 8 to ten minutes of stirring the contents while at a rolling boil, the strawberries were nice and soft, but not falling apart. So, I took my potato masher and gently crushed them. Because I like my jam chunky, I only did it a few times before giving the mix a quick stir with the masher to release any stuck on fruit.

Next came the skimming part. This is where I removed the foam from the top of the jam – it gets rid of impurities and the end product doesn’t get those strange looking white streaks when you bottle it. After skimming and stirring some more…

I put in a teaspoon of vanilla essence and kept that jam moving with the flame on medium. By now, the entire house was smelling sweet and deliciously cosy… mmmm...

Remember the saucer in the freezer? That’s my tester. I took it out and put a little blob of jam on it and left it for a bit. Poked it with my finger and… it wasn’t setting. Solution? 

Let it cook some more. Upped the fire slightly and stirred it for all I was worth for nearly five minutes. Soon, the jam thickened up considerably and actually looked like what it was supposed to be (on my toast).

One more test with the plate. This time another blob went down and I ran my finger through it. The blob stayed separate, telling me it was at the setting point. I was definitely there. 

So, I turned off the flame and let it cool for a couple of hours and then poured it into a clean, sterilized bottle.

And there you have it. Strawberry Jam.

I really had fun making this, and the texture was just how I wanted it, with the pieces of fruit easily seen (and enjoyed). This amount (roughly 2 ¼ cups) should last me about a couple of months; of course, I keep mine refrigerated, but it’s not really necessary once your bottles are clean and sterilized. (See, I recycled too, hahahaa!)

And so, another fun food adventure comes to an end. Look forward to my next one soon, and until then… doh forget to mind the pot! :-)