Strawberry Jam

Come January the weather in Mumbai turns rather nippy making all of us pull out our woolens and enjoy the cold weather for bit. Real 'winters' start around mid January and last till mid February here and the temperatures sometimes dip as low as 10-12 degrees C. It is also the time when the season's best fruits begin to show up in the markets. In Mumbai, strawberries can be found at every nook & corner - sold at the market amongst other fruits or at the traffic signal - neatly placed in plastic boxes, most times the rotten ones strategically placed at the bottom of the box.

These fruits are found in abundance in well stocked supermarkets at a fancy rate of course, however the best deal is found with those vendors who sell them near residential complexes - neatly piled on reed baskets, looking oh so pretty and inviting that passersby - pedestrians and motorists are lured to stop and buy them. The good part about these vendors is that one can bargain the price with them, especially towards dusk when they are eager to sell off whatever's remaining at your price - strawberries don't keep well at room temperature and they have a fresh load to sell the next day. Plus you get to pick and choose the best out of the lot. 

I bought quite a few strawberries last year - most of which were consumed in the form of smoothies and a lot of them were hulled & frozen - the husband cannot figure out why. I have no clue what I intended to do with them as I didn't have any specific plan! So last year's fruit is still chilling in my deep freezer - hard as stones!

Spot the difference!

Anyway, I went out and bought some more strawberries this year and not wanting to face his wrath I put them to good use. I made some jam! Usually there are no takers for jam in my house. We grew up eating synthetic flavoured jams - mixed fruit to be precise - as that was the only flavour I liked during my growing up years. However, after I made my batch of home made fresh fig jam last year, there was no looking back.

The sad part of this exercise is that I was able to make just one batch from the strawberries I bought at a throwaway price from one of the vendors near my house. The very next day the cops drove away all unauthorised fruit & vegetable vendors from my area. I hope they are back before the strawberry season ends so that I can make another batch of this lovely jam.

I totally love making jams - from start to finish - While I am not such a jam lover, I think I can definitely make a business out of making & selling jams. I find the whole process of chopping the fruit and simmering it over a slow fire so therapeutic. And then capturing it from a thousand different angles - that's another joy altogether. I think I made this jam for the sake of being able to take a lot of pictures more than wanting to eat it. 

About this dish
So here's a jam recipe that is nothing fancy and is very easy to make. I have not made use of pectin or any other preservative so it is best refrigerated and eaten within a couple of weeks. Slather some strawberry jam over a nice warm toast and eat it with fried bacon. You can even make a simple jam sandwich with strawberry jam and amul butter piled between slices of bread - that in my opinion tastes simply divine - enough to beat your blues away!

Strawberry Jam
Prep time: 15mins | Cook time: 45mins | Yield: Makes 2 jars of approx 200ml each

You Need
1. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters - depending on how chunky you like your jam. Transfer them into a large heavy based pan - remember that the mixture will rise and turn frothy so use a pan with tall sides. Add the sugar, pinch of salt and star anise and simmer till the sugar is dissolved.
2. In a separate pan boil the jam jar/jars for 10 minutes. Remove and dry them thoroughly.
3. Continue to cook the strawberries till the mixture begins to thicken. You can do a test to check if the jam is ready by dropping half a spoonful on a steel plate that has been placed in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. The jam should wrinkle when you touch it with a finger, if not, continue to cook the jam. Do keep an eye on the mixture and continuously stir it as the sugar will stick to the bottom of the pan as it starts to caramelise.
4. When the jam has passed the wrinkle test, add the butter, mix well and skim off any scum on the surface (I missed this step!)
5. Allow the jam to cool off for 6-7 minutes before you spoon them carefully into the sterilized jars. Store in a cool, dry place.

How to hull strawberries easily: Just poke through the base of each strawberry with a strong drinking straw till the stem and leaves come off on the other end of the straw.

I have adapted the recipe from from here

Labels: , , , ,