I know I am lucky – but I temper that thought with the knowledge that I am the one that works the garden. It’s just me, mother nature and the magical sprites and fairies that populate the garden for good or bad depending on their mood.
All the fruit and elderflowers are from my garden. I am a bit fussy about my strawberries.
In the UK at the moment the only strawberry that is easily available to buy is Elsanta – which is a prolific fruiter but the berries are very low in flavour, scent – just not very good. Try the other varieties (I can’t remember the names of all the varieties I have but I have 4 types to spread the season over a few weeks) Do not shy away from the little wild/alpine strawberry, they are great for taste 🙂
This time I had my lovely Daughter No1 to help me – I’m hoping the love of ‘jamming’ has found it’s way into her soul too.
This is the BEST jam you can have. Quintessentially British and the flavour is outstanding.
It is essential that you do not cook this any further than stated as you will get a firm set and then all the nuances of fresh strawberries will be lost. That sort of jam can be bought at any supermarket for 40 p a jar.
This is something very special -easy to make and will set you on the path of ‘getting’ why it is you would want to make your own jams and chutneys.
I make this in my jam pan, if you only have a 4 litre (pasta) pan then halve the amounts.
Elder Strawberry Jam
2 kg / 4 lb granulated sugar
1.5 kg strawberries (washed and hulled – in that order)
100 ml lemon juice
10 heads of elderflowers (rinsed in cold water – if you have any black flies then either wipe them off but if you are a Vegan then just cut that part of the stem off and pop it back into the garden)
100 ml pectin ( or the cores of 6 apples tied in a muslin bag)
You will need about 10 1lb/480g glass jars.
Wash the jars in soapy water a rinse throughly. You can leave these to dry and then place on a baking sheet and pop into a cold oven. Turn it on to 250˚F/130˚C/Gas 1/2 until the jam is made (about 20 minutes)
I sterilise my jars by standing them onto a large tray and filling them to the brim with boiling water (be careful if you do this because the jars can crack – although I have NEVER had a jar crack). Once the water is boiling pour the water into the jar to fill only 1/6th of the way full – this will allow the glass to begin to temper and you should not have any problems. Allow the jar to stand for 5 minutes and then reboil the kettle and fill the jar with the boiling water.
Pop the lids into a pan of boiling water and allow to simmer away until you need them – don’t do this with plastic lids – they will need to be sterilised in a baby bottle fluid like Milton.
*If the jar has a flaw or is cracked it will now shatter – but it would shatter anyway once in the oven or when you have added the hot jam. Best to get it over with whilst it only contains a little hot water on the side where you can see where the glass has gone!
Pop the fruit into the pan and crush lightly with a fork, a masher, the end of a rolling pin or your hand – just to the the juices flowing.
Add the sugar and stir. Add the bag of apple cores at this point if you are using them.
Turn the heat onto very low and allow the sugar to dissolve (maybe 5 minutes). You will know when it is dissolved as it will not sound scratchy when you stir it.
Add the lemon juice and elderflower heads.
Turn the heat up and pop in the thermometer (if you are using one). Bring to a rapid boil for about 20 minutes (or until it reaches 130˚C).
Turn off the heat and remove the elderflower heads (and apples cores if you have used them). Give it a good stir and use a ladle to carefully remove any remaining foam. (Most will disappear once you have stirred it).
Add in the pectin and stir.
Empty the jars of the now tepid water. Fill with the hot jam. While still not pop on the lid and turn to just seal.
After 10 minutes (using a cloth to hold the jar) tighten the lid. After an hour fully tighten the lids down
Scrummy on a fresh scone, toast, filling a cake or even on yogurt 🙂