Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Strawberry Apple Jam

Strawberry Apple Jam is one of my most favorite jams ever.  Even more favorite than Strawberry Rhubarb, which is really saying something, because I just love Strawberry and Rhubarb together. 

Now, me being me and all, and not starting out with anything simple, this is one of the first jams I really tried to make.  I did attempt one batch of raspberry jam a long, long time ago.... but we'll just forget about that.

Moving on.  I chose this recipe, because I have a strawberry apple pie that is divine.  It has such a soft, sweet flavor, one that you wouldn't expect from a combination of Granny Smith apples, and strawberries.  But, the flavors balance out so amazingly, that you get a really beautiful, mellow flavor that is quite satisfying.

I did some digging, and found this recipe at Through My Kitchen Window.  It does not use pectin, so it's an older style recipe that cooks down the fruits until it's all soft and mellow and yummy.    I have found that with this recipe, it does require a bit of babysitting to really make it the right consistency.  It seems to take me longer than the recipe states, so you do need to do a bit of looking around on how to determine the right consistency of the jam once it's finished.

Oh, and don't throw your jam scum away.  Seriously, jam scum is the best.  It sounds awful, but tastes just as good as the jam.  It's nothing harmful, it just doesn't make your jam look as pretty in the jars.  And believe me, this is a pretty jam. 

A few other notes.... I tried reducing the water to make the jam cook quicker and thicken up better..... don't.  It was so sweet it was practically unusable.  I have one jar that I'm trying to find some way to use in a cake or something where the flavor will be mellowed.  It's unbelievably sweet though.  Another note... you can add in a vanilla bean for a bit of pretty flecks of vanilla, and to add to the soft, mellow flavor.  I admit to being a vanilla addict though, so this is entirely up to you. 

Lastly, this recipe does not have instructions for using a water bath, so I do half pints for about 15 minutes, and then cool.  Quarter pints make great gifts too, and are so pretty in their teeny little jars.  But, quarter pints are really only good for your friends who are single, or very small families who use jam very sparingly.  Or someone you want to tease to get them knocking your door down at 3 am looking for more of that jam because they had a craving for scones and jam.  Doesn't everyone crave scones at jam at 3 am?  I like my jam scum right about then, personally.

Strawberry and Apple Jam

500gm strawberries  (1 lb. plus 1 ½ oz.)
3 medium green apples
1/4 cup lemon juice
1kg white or caster sugar  (2.2 lbs.) (5 cups)
extra lemon

Hull and halve the strawberries. Cut out bruised spots and do not use any that are too ripe. Set aside in a clean bowl.

Get some lemons; if you're fortunate enough to have a tree, pick them straight from the tree as the pectin content will be at it's highest. Select lemons that are slightly underripe. You will get the best possible jelling results doing this.

Squeeze a whole lemon into a big bowl of water; peel and quarter the green apples; remove seeds and core; slice thinly. Place the apple slices straight into the lemon water.

Take some muslin fabric and cut out a small square. You only need enough to hold the pips from a couple of lemons.

Take a clean bowl; pour in some boiling hot water and place your muslin square into the water. This is the next best step to sterilising the cloth.

Squeeze a couple of lemons and reserve the juice.

Line a small bowl with the well rinsed muslin square and place all the lemon pips you can extract from the lemons.

Secure the pips well and tie a knot with some twine to create a small muslin bag.

In a heavy based pan place the strawberries, drained apples, muslin bag, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and three cups of water. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until the apples have softened. Take out muslin bag; pour the sugar into the center of the pot; stir gently till the sugar has dissolved then boil steadily for about 30 minutes or till the jam has set. I place a saucer in the freezer and test the jam by dropping a little onto the saucer; then pressing to see how wrinkled it looks. If it is quite runny then more cooking is required.

It is important to allow the jam to sit for about 10 minutes before pouring into sterilized jars. You risk the fruit sinking to the bottom if you pour it in right away. Make sure that any scum has been removed. You will find scum always rises to the top and moves to the sides of the pot so it is easy to spoon off. I use the pictured ladle to fill the jam jars. Seal while hot.