August 25, 2006

SHF #22 K's Birthday Jam

For the past four years, I have gifted K, the partner's mom, with strawberry jam for her birthday. I didn't even realize that SHF (Sugar High Friday) this month and K's day coincided pretty nicely, until yesterday. So here is my second addition to the SHF phenomenon.

In the past, I have just cooked the berries with a smaller then typical amount of sugar my secret ingredient and strongly advised that the jar be kept in the fridge. This method isn't really jam, more like a slightly thickened strawberry sauce. Depending on what I did that year, the "jam" was quite often runny. This year however, armed with my preserving book, I made an actual recipe for jam, complete with the scarily obscene amount of sugar. Then I really and truly canned it. I am slightly paranoid that K will get botulism and die but I don't think that will actually happen,at least I sincerely hope it won't. Without further ado, here is my recipe for strawberry jam with a twist.

2 lbs strawberries, preferably organic/pesticide free
2 lbs sugar (about 4 1/2 cups)
2-4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-4 tsp orange flower water, or to taste

If you are planning on canning this, everything must be scrupulously clean.

Place a saucer in the freezer. Trim the greens off the berries and cut fruit in half. Combine berries and juice in a very large pot and cook over medium-low heat until fruit begins to break down, stirring occasionally, about 12-15 minutes. When fruit is softened, crush about half of the berries against the side of the pot. Add the sugar and stir until well combined.

Turn heat up to medium and let mixture come to a boil. Try not to stir once this has happened. Skim off the foam that comes to the top. If you ever read M.F.K Fisher's essay, "The Measure of My Powers", you will find this to feel like a slightly Proustian exercise.

After jam has boiled for ten minutes, remove the saucer from the freezer and place a few dabs of jam on it. Let cool for a minute. Poke with your finger, if it wrinkles, remove jam from heat and
let cool. If it does not wrinkle, let cook for another two minutes and test again. Conversely, the jam will be done once it measures 220F (this did not hold true for me, but it might for you). After jam is removed from heat, stir in the orange flower water.

If you plan on canning, which I will not give instructions for because I don't really know what I am doing and I don't want anyone to get sick, let jam cool for 5 minutes and fill jars. If you are not canning, let jam cool to room temp, and pour into very clean jars. The jam will keep in the fridge about six months.

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Blogger foodkitty said...

Have recently got a copy of the Art of Eating, so love MFKF. Jam skimming is circle of hell stuff-isn't it?
Today I am experimenting with some brandied cumquats I received several Christmases ago - will add to apricots to make a jam..let's see how it goes..

August 26, 2006 7:08 PM  
Blogger jenjen said...

wow, what a perfect present. This looks and sounds wonderful.

August 28, 2006 7:38 PM  

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