Being that there are only two of us in my household I often get frustrated when I go grocery shopping and see the portion sizes of certain items. There seems to be so many things I want but I know neither my husband and I will be able finish before it goes bad or my husband doesn’t like what I like and I am faced with trying to finish something unrealistically large for one person. The result is often throwing food away. And more and more you read about how much food American’s throw away each year when so many people are going hungry. Does this predicament sound familiar to you?
Case in point – I love strawberries and my husband doesn’t eat them. So when I buy strawberries at the store the smallest size available is in a one pound plastic container (you can get them in smaller portions pre-cut but they are insanely expensive and I am not a big fan of frozen strawberries). In order to finish all of them before they go bad I am either faced with buying strawberries that are barely ripened so they last longer or not buying strawberries at all. Both options are unacceptable to me.
So just last week as I was bemoaning the fact that my strawberries were becoming soft and mushy. I decided to google how to use strawberries that were becoming soft and mushy. A suggestion popped up about making strawberry jam. Bingo!
I had only eaten about one quarter pound of my strawberries and decided that I would try to make some jam out of what was remaining. It was a stroke of genius. I added two weeks to the lifetime of my strawberries and the homemade strawberry jam was to die for.
So let’s talk homemade strawberry jam…
Lesson Learned 1 – You probably will have to adjust this recipe especially where the sugar is concerned: This recipe is for a full pound of fresh strawberries. I had only approximately 3/4 of a pound (and I was guessing by eyeballing what I had left) and so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to make the jam too sweet. A full pound of strawberries calls for 2/3 cup sugar. I only used 1/3 cup sugar and after making the jam felt I could’ve reduced that amount to a light 1/3 cup and still be ok. But I am not one who likes things too sugary sweet. So what I am saying here is play around with the amount of sugar you use keeping in mind that the strawberries have natural sugars as well. Even if you’re using a full pound of strawberries for your jam try a light 2/3 cup to start out. Now I know this must be “frying” the brains of those of you who feel you need exact measurements. My advice is to take a leap of faith and go with a little less on the sugar. After you make this a few times you will get a feel for exactly how much sugar you want in your jam.
Lesson Learned 2 – Use the juice of half of lemon: I lot of recipes I saw called for 1 Tbs. of lemon juice. I used the juice of 1/2 of a large lemon. The lemon helps to balance out the sugar and the combination of flavors is absolutely delicious.
Lesson Learned 3 – Why a granny smith apple: Jams need pectin in order to thicken. And although you can buy pectin at the grocery store it comes naturally in the granny smith apple. So you are using a natural source of pectin to thicken your jam. Also, the tartness of the granny smith helps to balance out the sugar in the jam as well. And even though I did not make this recipe with a full pound of strawberries I still used the entire grated apple. It made a wonderful addition to the jam.
Lesson Learned 4 – You may need to simmer the jam longer than you think: Many recipes I saw said to simmer the jam ingredients for approximately 10-15 minutes. I had to simmer my jam for 1/2 hour. Now keep in mind I’m at high altitude and I don’t know whether that was a factor or not. Just make sure your jam is not runny and the liquid noticeably thick before you quit simmering it.
It couldn’t be simpler. And you extend the life of your strawberries by at least a couple of weeks. I can tell you first hand that this jam on some crusty bread with a cup of coffee is over the moon delicious. So try it, and tell me what you think.
Homemade Strawberry Jam...
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
2/3 cup of sugar (err on the side of making it a light 2/3 cup)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
1/2 medium to large lemon, juiced
Combine the strawberries and sugar into a medium size saucepan. Stir in the grated granny smith apple. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the strawberries with a spoon until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, simmer the mixture until the jam has noticeably thickened (can be anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes).
Take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool. Cover and chill for at least two hours. Jam keeps best in a mason jar type container.