Old-Fashioned Strawberry Jam
It’s strawberry season and the kitchen counter is filled with canning jars, sugar, and berries. I gave up making jam with pectin long ago.
My jam takes a little longer to boil, but the natural pectin in the fruit, along with the added pectin in the lemon zest produces a reliably thick, chunky jam that truly tastes like real fruit, with a deep, dark cranberry red color.
Invest in a candy thermometer to save yourself the guesswork of wondering if the jam has reached the proper temperature and jelly stage.
Recipe for Strawberry Jam (without pectin)
2 quarts strawberries
5 cups sugar
2 lemons, juiced and zested
Trim the tops off berries, put berries into a large bowl, and tops into the compost. Rinse berries under water, and transfer with your hands into a colander, leaving behind any residue from the garden. Slice berries in half and measure out 4 cups, transferring them into a deep 8-quart kettle.
Pour the sugar over the berries, gently press the berries with a potato masher to release juices, and combine with the sugar, leaving chunks and some smaller berries whole. Let the berries and sugar sit for a bit, up to two hours.
Turn the heat on low at first, and then higher to bring the sugar and berries to a simmer, then to a full boil. Stir with a wooden spoon as the sugar and berries completely blend together. Keep stirring while cooking over a moderately high heat as the berries bubble and reduce.
After about 10 minutes of a roiling boil, check the temperature with a candy thermometer. It may hover just below the 220° (jelly stage) mark for a long time, so be patient and keep stirring and checking. Meanwhile, wash and hot-water bath your jars (or run them through a dishwasher), and place the lids in a bowl with boiling water to sterilize.
When the jam finally hits the 220° mark, add the lemon zest, stir, and bring to a boil again. Turn off the heat, fill the jars, and secure lids. Flip over to seal the lids. Remember to finish the jars with label, listing ingredients and the date.