Photo: Sara Remington, The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook
Adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders
I call this jam, "children's", because of its simple, unembellished strawberry flavor: with neither herbs, flowers, extracts, nor alcohol, this is the classic straight-strawberry jam we all know and love, in an especially bright-tasting version. As with all strawberry jams, the key is to use an ample amount of lemon juice to balance and sharpen the natural sweetness of the berries.
4 pounds hulled large strawberries
2 pounds 10 ounces white cane sugar
3 2/3 ounces plus 2 2/3 ounces strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.
In an 11 or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive kettle, combine the berries with the sugar and 3 2/3 ounces of the lemon juice. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula. After a few minutes, as the juice starts to run and the mixture begins foaming a little around the edges, gradually raise the heat to high, stirring often.
Boil the mixture vigorously for 20 to 30 minutes, gently scraping the bottom of the pan every minute or two with your spatula to be sure the jam in not sticking. If it begins to stick, decrease the heat slightly, being sure the jam continues to cook at a rapid boil. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until the foam subsides, the mixture acquires a darker, shinier look, and the berries appear softened and saturated with liquid, about 25 minutes total.
At this point, stir in the remaining 2 2/3 ounces of lemon juice, continuing to stir frequently. If necessary, lower the heat slightly to prevent scorching.
After 3 to 5 more minutes, your jam should look shiny and thickened. At this point, remove from the heat and test for doneness, using a stainless-steel spoon to carefully scrape all the white foam off the top of the mixture while you test. DO NOT STIR.
To test for doneness: carefully transfer a small representative half-teaspoon of jam to one of your frozen spoons. Place the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs; if it runs slowly, and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done. If it runs very quickly or appears watery, cook it for another couple of minutes, stirring, and testing again as needed. This jam, while spreadable, has a relatively loose texture. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process according the manufacturer's instructions or as directed in this cookbook.
Yield: seven 8-ounce jars
Shelf Life: 6 to 8 months. Store in refrigerator after opening