A shelf of jars full of home-made jam, jelly and marmalade, neatly labelled and well arranged is a lovely sight in any kitchen.
Making jam's and jellies is a great pleasure and a job that many housewives look forward too. The lovely smell of the fruit cooking, the colour and texture of raspberries, black berries, apricots or strawberries make the thought of jam making something desirable. It arouses a feeling of elation when the jam sets as expected and frustration when the jelly doesn't.
Jam making is not difficult but the more time, attention and care you can spare for it the better the results will be.
If you are able to grow your own fruit it is easy to pick it at the peak of condition for converting into jam. Gather it on a dry day and choose it just slightly under ripe. Fruit that has over ripened may need a longer boiling time to set into jam and this spoils the colour and flavour.
Watch the local newspaper for advertisements for the opportunities to pick fruit yourself. Do this in time so that you don't miss the first picking which will be the slightly under ripe fruit that you want.
Here is how to make your own Strawberry Jam.
2 kg (4 lb.) STRAWBERRIES
2 kg (4 lb.) SUGAR
6 ml (4 tbs.) LEMON JUICE
Hull the strawberries and layer them in a bowl with the sugar, cover and leave overnight to extract the juice and firm the berries.
Put into a large pan with the lemon juice and bring to a slow boil and boil for 5-6 minutes.
Return to the mixing bowl for 12 hours and then boil again gently until the syrup thickens. This process helps to keep the fruit plump. When stirring, do it gently to keep the fruit whole.
Cool for 10-15 minutes, so that the strawberries no longer float, before putting into warmed jars.
Pot and make an airtight seal very carefully.