In India jams and pickles are very common. Since the climate is hot and refrigeration was not very commonly available, pickling and preserving was essential to keep food from spoiling. The kind of jams that are made in India are more like fruits in syrup, as opposed to pectin-based jams.
My mom always tried making new things and using new ingredients in her cooking (which is quite hard to do in a small village with no internet access). She has been making jams and marmalades for as long as I can remember. She makes mixed fruit jam, orange marmalade, pineapple jam..you name it. My favorites are the ‘alphonso mango jam’ and ‘strawberry jam’. I can not eat any store bought versions of these two, yes you can say I am a spoilt brat. Strawberries were not readily available until recent years, so I was even more impressed to see my mom quickly figure out a recipe to make jam with it.
Since alphonso mangoes aren’t readily available, I can not make that jam but strawberries are abundant where I live so I make strawberry jam every year. My kids also prefer the homemade jams and marmalades over commercially available jam. The deal is that they have to help me chop the fruit and only then they get the jam. 🙂
My son, who is in college now, packed two bottles to take to his dorm. In his words, “Mom, please don’t make me eat a PBJ with store bought jam”.
So here is my recipe for strawberry jam. I make some variations as well, which are mentioned below.
3 cups of chopped strawberries
1 cup of strawberries chopped and mashed
3 cups of sugar ( you can add more if you like syrupy jam, I prefer mine full of fruit)
2 tbsp lemon juice
25 g Fruit pectin ( you can leave this out but then the jam would be watery)
Chop 2/3 rd of the strawberries.
Measure 3 cups full and add to a thick bottomed pot. I like to use stainless steel pot
Chop remaining strawberries and crush them with a potato masher. I like doing this since it helps add body to the jam and stops it from making less syrupy.
Measure 1 cup full and add to the pot.
Add the fruit pectin. Put the pot on the stove and start cooking the fruit
Add lemon juice. The tartness from the lemon juice helps cut through the sweetness.
Let it come to a rolling boil.
Add the sugar all at once.
Let it come to a boil and boil pretty hard for 1 1/2 min. Turn the heat off.
If you see scum on top, take it out with a spoon. It is not bad stuff but it just does not look pretty. 🙂
Take the out of freezer and add little bit of jam on the plate. Put it back in the freezer and check after a couple of mins.
If you like the consistency of the jam, you are done. If you think it is a little runny then turn the heat on for a min on low flame.
Your jam is ready.
Storing the jam:
If I am making a small batch, I prefer just filling it up in small bottles and put it in the fridge. It keeps well for atleast 6-8 months.
If I am making a big batch, I do go through the hot water bath canning process to preserve the jam. Here are some tips I got from USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products.
I like to make variation in my strawberry jam.
With cardamom: It is an amazing combination, I love the sweet scent of cardamom compliment the strawberries
With Balsamic vinegar: Strawberry and balsamic vinegar is a classic italian combination. I love making this preserve and spoon it over a scoop of Vanilla ice cream.