Recipe: Strawberry jam

There are many ways to enjoy strawberries

There are many ways to enjoy strawberries - Credit: Compulsory Credit: GAP Photos/Ge

The long-awaited English strawberry season is here at long last.

Whether it’s tarts, pastries, mousses, fools or jam, there are so may delicious ways to enjoy strawberries.

In a good year we might even have a glut of the sweet firm fruit with an aroma and taste like nothing else. When you have an excess of strawberries you might want to make some jam.

But the very sweetness we enjoy when eating fresh strawberries means care is needed when making jam.

The more acidic the fruit, the more pectin it is likely to contain – so the intense sweetness of the fully-ripe strawberry counts against it here.

Pectin is a gelling substance that occurs naturally in many fruits. It is most concentrated in pips, cores and skin. The cell walls of under-ripe fruit contain pectose, an insoluble substance that changes into soluble pectin as the fruit ripens. Slightly under-ripe fruits are best for jellies and jams.

Some fruits are high in pectin, while others have very little. One can compensate for those by mixing low and high pectin fruits such as blackberry and apple.

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High-pectin fruits include: crab apples, blackcurrants, gooseberries, plums, redcurrants, cooking apples, cranberries, damsons, quince, oranges, lemons and many plums.

Fruits with quite high pectin: Raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, tayberries and apricots.

Low-pectin fruits: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb, elderberries, peaches, sweet cherries, dessert apples, pears, figs and marrow.

There are three ways to up the pectin quota. Firstly, with the juice of a more acidic fruit, such as lemon or currants; secondly by using jam sugar (which includes pectin) and thirdly by adding some in liquid form to ordinary sugar (some sticklers regard the use of artificial pectin as cheating, but with strawberries, I suspect they’re making a rod for their own backs. It just provides extra reassurance that you’re going to be able to spoon, rather than pour, your breakfast condiment).