My latest favorite experiment in the kitchen has been Strawberry Jam, using ultra fresh strawberries from the local farmers markets (you can get discounts on day-old or damaged ones) and making it in my bread machine. Yes, you read right – the vast majority of the medium and high end bread machines have a “jam” setting, which makes absolutely yummy jam.
Fresh homemade jam can be used in a bunch of different ways for Memorial Day, and all summer. It’s not just for peanut butter sandwiches. I flavor plan Greek yogurt with it (and am planning on making yogurt popsicles and real frozen yogurt this summer in my ice cream maker) or spread it in an inside layer cake. Most of the time bread machine jam is softer and less jelly-like than store-bought jams and jellies – especially if you opt to decrease the sugar — which makes it ideal for spooning over ice cream on a hot summer day.
Most jam is just fruit, sugar and pectin – that’s it. And when you make it fresh in small batches there’s no need for canning the stuff, just store it in a storage container in the refrigerator or freezer. You should start by following your own machine’s directions, but here’s my suggested ratio:
- Strawberries, very ripe, about 2-3 cups (three baskets or so)
- Sugar to taste– I use about 1 cup because I don’t want to overload on the sugar; most recipes call for closer to 2 ¾ cups. Less sugar means a runnier jam that needs to be eaten quicker than the normal stuff
- Pectin – low-sugar pectin works the best for bread machines. I use three tablespoons of the Bell low-sugar stuff
Remove the tops from the strawberries and cut off any obviously bad parts. Do a quick puree of the berries in the food processor, with a handheld blender, or the old fashion by hand way with a potato masher.
Put the strawberry puree in the bread machine. Add sugar. Add pectin. Turn machine to “Jam” setting, and wait. It will be very hot and runny when done – wait for it to cool, then transfer to storage container and put in refrigerator, where the jam will set as it cools.