Jams, jellies, preserves or spreads ....
When I was little, Mum used to buy marmalade coz that's what she likes with her toast every morning. I know of very few kids who like the bitter peels and I was one of those who did not (my tastebuds have grown up since then and I like lots of peel in my marmalade now). She'd bought some strawberry jam for me to shut me up, but back then the only good quality ones were imported from England and good as they were, I still complained there weren't enough fruit in it. Then I had my first PBJ sandwich in the US of A and complained there wasn't ANY fruit in it. Then I learnt of the differences between jams, jellies, preserves and spreads.
- Jelly is made from fruit juice
- Jam is made from pureed fruit
- Preserves are made from whole fruit
- Spreads are made from whole fruit and/or pureed fruit
All I know now is, jelly is not for me. You can't convince me it's made from fruits unless I see some fruit in it.
We only used to get imported strawberries on our shelves. Since then our local highland folks have been doing a lot of R&D and initially turned out with some very stunted looking berries .... but that was years ago. Lately, things have improved, maybe in such a way that I really don't want to question too much how they've managed to come up with gorgeous, red, sweet and luscious strawberries that can give the imported ones a run for their money. A friend went uphill for a weekend retreat, to get some fresh air, she claims (yeah right, with all the tour buses) and returned with baskets of large, beautiful berries. Making strawberry jam before had been an expensive indulgence, but now .... Yay!
(I would have loved to post the pic of those lovely strawberries but I can't seem to find where I stored it or if I'd accidentally deleted it ... aarrrggh!! Will do another post when and if I do find it.)
3 cups ripe strawberries (rinsed and hulled)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs lemon juice (abt half a small lemon)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
( Don't be surprised by the addition of the balsamic vinegar. It actually accentuates the "strawberryness" of the strawberries. Don't believe me? Try it out :D )
*Note: the proper ratio is 1 cup fruit to 1 cup sugar. The ratio I used is about as reduced as it should get or it won't gel ... without using artificial pectin.
Quarter or halve the strawberries if they're large in size. (Some folks puree half the amount of fruit but I like mine unpureed with big chunks of strawberries)
Combine fruit, sugars, lemon juice and vinegar in a deep stainless steel pot.
Stir to mix evenly.
Simmer over low heat until sugar is melted.
Increase heat and bring to a boil.
Lower heat to medium and simmer without stirring for about 20 mins. Drag a wooden spoon gently around the bottom of the pot to make sure there's nothing burnt and sticking ... do not stir vigorously.
While the jam is simmering, put a ceramic plate in the freezer. After 15 mins, put a small dollop on the cold plate, let it come to room temperature and if it's formed some wrinkles, it's done. Otherwise, simmer for another minute or 2 or 5 (it all depends on how juicy the fruits are) and check again.
Skim off white foamy bits. (Actually there's nothing wrong with the foamy bits, it's still jam, just not too appetizing to look at)
Leave to cool 20 mins.
Store in clean, sterilized jars.
If jars are not properly sealed, store in refrigerator.
*Note: This isn't too gel-like, just a little runny and spreads easily.