I make a lot of jam through out the year to give as Christmas and Hanukkah presents during the holidays. One of my past roommates put Bob Marley’s “Jammin” as his ringtone and would call himself so that I would hear the ring whenever he heard me clanking around in the kitchen with all my canning supplies…
And strawberry jam is the one that usually starts off the season. The berries appear at the market in early spring, and somehow manage to last all the way in to September. I always taste the berries from each farm since they really do change from week to week. But my favorite always seems to be Dirty Girl. They attend the Tuesday Berkeley market, as well as the Saturday Ferry Plaza market in San Francisco.
The thing about strawberry jam is that strawberries are really juicy! And that’s not always good for jam making. The idea when making jam is to cook the fruit as little as possible, to preserve the fresh fruit flavor. So if the fruit is too juicy, you have to cook it for a long time, reducing it down until you get the right consistency. (That being said, you could also use pectin, but I just don’t like dealing with it). I came across a “sun dried” strawberry jam recipe in the Chez Panisse Fruit book and wanted to give it a shot. But since we were without sun for so long, I used my oven instead.
The recipe turned out great!
“Sun Dried” Strawberry Jam adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit
I used one flat (12 baskets) of strawberries and made the recipe twice, yielding a total of 9 half-pint jars. I used my 12- quart dutch oven to create a large surface area for easy evaporation while the fruit was cooking.
- 12 cups hulled and cut strawberries
- 4 cups sugar (add up to 1 cup extra sugar if your berries area a little tart)
Toss the cut strawberries with the sugar in a large, non-reactive pot. Stir and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. Then place the pot over high-heat, stirring regularly. When it comes to a boil, allow it to continue cooking, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the surface. Pour the jam into two large flat-bottomed baking dishes, so that the depth of the jam is no more than 1/2-inch thick. * Place the baking dishes in the oven, turned to it’s lowest setting. (“Warm” on my oven is around 150 degrees.) Watch it carefully, as ovens vary widely. It took about 4 hours for me. When it reaches the consistency that you like, pour it into sterilized canning jars and process in a water bath for 15 minutes. TaDa!
*The Chez Panisse method is to put the baking dishes in a sunny spot in your kitchen (choosing a place that is inaccessible to ants) and letting it sit for a few days.