I am a scientist who loves to cook because there are many similarities between working in a lab and cooking in a kitchen. I love to share my cooking experience with you and to inspire others to cook.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strawberry Jam

When I was living with my cousin in college, my aunt visited us once and she made jam. She went around town and picked blackberries off the trees which will be used to make jam. I remember the freshness of her jam and it was very different from the ones you buy from the store.

Jam was invented as a way to preserve food since fruit is cooked to kill germs and high sugar content slows bacteria growth. 

Most people buy their jam from the store these days but do you know it is SO EASY to make your own jam? You can make jam from fruits that are harvested from different seasons. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries in the spring/summer; peach, plum, apple in the late summer/fall.

There are only two ingredients in my jam recipe:

1) fruits - strawberry in this case
2) sugar

Here are the easy steps
1) Cut the fruits into small pieces but not too small because heat will break down the fruits anyways. Fruits such as strawberries, peaches, and apples should be cut.
2) Toss the fruit with sugar. The amount of sugar that you use varies according to the amount of fruit that you use. My own rule of thumb is 1 cup of cut fruits per 1/2 cup of sugar.
3) Place the sugar coated fruit in the refrigerator for 2 hours. The fruit juice will sip out during this time. You want the juice so that you can cook the fruit in its own juice.
4) Cook the fruit in its own juice under low heat. Add sugar if you want your jam to be sweeter.
5) Done and store

How do you know if the jam is ready?

There are a few tests out there that people use such as scooping the jam with a very cold spoon. It if sticks, it is done. But for me, it is all about using your own eyes. Unless you are mass producing it for sale, the consistency of your jam is entirely up to you. My aunt's jam was very very watery. My jam was slightly less jelly-like then store-bought jam.

Some recipes suggest using pectin, which is a natural jellying agent. Then again, I think this is unnecessary.

Chopped Strawberries

After two hours of sugar "marination". See the shininess? That's what you want.

Simmer the strawberries in low heat

What can you use the jam for?
a) pancakes/waffles toppings
b) spread it on toast/bagel
c) add some into oatmeal. I haven't seen anyone nor have i done this before. But i can see it work.
d) make milkshake
e) my favorite - ice cream topping

Here are some photos

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