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Hello tumblr children, time for jam :D

Thank you so much to everyone who liked, commented and reblogged my previous recipe post (x). I’m glad so many of you had success making bread for the first time, and I love seeing all the pictures you post!

This weeks recipe is actually somewhat easier than bread so I’m really excited to share it with you. It’s an older recipe for jam (circa 1900) which doesn’t even require you to use additional pectin for the setting process and is probably my favorite to make. But Joy, I hear you say, surely jam requires special tools, special pots, special thermometers and all sorts of things I do not have in my own kitchen? Nah fam, nah, tumblr mom’s got your back on this one. All you need is a large pot, a mixing bowl, a measuring jug and some jars to seal it in. That’s it. And of course your ingredients.

Speaking of which, here’s what you need to make an authentic Victorian Strawberry Jam:

  1. 1 liter (that’s 4cups if all you have is a measuring cup) of fresh strawberries.
  2. 425g of fine white sugar (approx 2 ½ heaping cups, not packed, don’t pack it down)
  3. ¼ cup lemon juice.

That’s it, that’s all you need. The original recipe called for double that amount of ingredients, but I found that mixture a lot harder to set, so I prefer to do mine in smaller batches (I normally get 4 half pint jars from this). I feel it just works better, especially with the equipment I have. Also sorry if the pics are less good, I had to do this one without tumblr dad’s help and it’s v hard to stir jam and take videos at the same time *_*

So first you’re going to want to do is wash your strawberries, remove the stalks and cut them up until you have enough to fill a 1 liter jug and then tip them into your bowl.

Next you’re going to measure out your sugar. Don’t pack your sugar in too tightly, just make sure there’s 2 and a half generous cups going in there. We’re not using additional pectin so we’re relying on the natural sugar of the fruit(s) and the sugar cane to bind our jam together. Just like great grandma used to. (because pectin was expensive and normally had to be made at this time period by boiling down apple peels. Fun, but time consuming.)

Heap your sugar over the top of your strawberries, and listen for the faint sound of screaming in the distance. That’s my dentist having an aneurysm.

After that, you’re going to smoosh the sugar into the strawberries.

Now, you can use a potato masher or a fork. I’ve done both and found them both to be adequate if very time consuming. So what I am using here is my $20 hand blender that I use in almost everything I make, so it’s $20 well spent imo. Anyway, smoosh or blend your strawberries down (it sort of reminds me of that scene in Crimson Peak when the red starts seeping through the snow) until you have a smooth liquid. If you prefer it a little chunky, that’s fine too, just make sure your sugar is well and truly blended into the juices.

If you really want to be fancy you can strain the seeds out with a sieve but I like mine with a bit of texture. Leave it to sit for a minimum of 2 hours (no more than 4) and come back to it. It should taste like incredibly sweet strawberry water. Try not to start drinking it. I will not be responsible for any of you slipping into a diabetic coma. In the meantime, prep your lemon juice.

The lemon is two fold here, one it adds a bit of tart flavor to the mix, and second, it helps to lower the ph balance of the jam which enables the natural pectin to set. When you heat fruit and add sugar to it, what you are doing is breaking down the fruit cells so the natural pectin can emerge. But that also makes it unstable and watery. The acidity of the lemon juice actually serves to balance out the ph, and helps the pectin to retain it’s gelatinous texture. Which is what you want in a good jam. (Also there’s some evidence to show it helps to keep bacteria from breeding in the sugar rich environment, so I guess it’s three fold) Set your lemon juice to the side and continue waiting until the two hours are up.

When you’re done waiting, tip your jam into a pot (mines is a 4qt pot and it is just big enough for this, don’t go any smaller. You’ll see why.) and bring the contents up to a slow boil over a medium heat, stirring frequently. You can use a wooden spoon, but I prefer my silicone spatula, I find it helps me scrape the bottom much easier. It should look something like this:

After that bring it up to a hard/fast boil for 5 minutes, continuing to stir.

During this time it will continue to rise and you need to be very careful about not letting it boil over the sides. And when I mean rise I mean rise. Just look at the height of it during first boil compared to the height when we first tipped it in cold.

Once your five minutes are up, pour your lemon juice in and watch magic happen as the mixture sinks back down and darkens in color. It should hiss a bit like an eldritch horror being splashed with holy water.

Keep stirring and boil for another five minutes, it should look like this:

mmmm delicious molten strawberry. During this time it should start to become a little more solid, but still fluid enough to pour. It won’t really stiffen up until it cools but once it does start to cool it will solidify into a spreadable like jelly fairly quickly. Pour it into your jars and congratulate yourself on not burning your fingers off with molten strawberry.

At this point you can just screw on the lids and throw them in the fridge for four weeks and they’ll still be good. (and if you’re wondering who can eat four jars of jam in four weeks, we’ve clearly not met in person yet) or you can do what I like to do which is fill a stock pot with water and gradually bring the jars up to a boil to seal them (like we talked about in my pickle post). That way if I’m ill or unable to use the four jams, I have airtight sealed jam, which in my experience is good for up to 6months in the pantry. (Which also makes these great Wintermass presents too.)

And that’s how you make Victorian strawberry jam :D

I hope you enjoyed this post, brought to you this week by [Patreon sponsors], if you’d like to see more recipes, please leave a comment and let me know what else you’d like to see me make for you.

Stay tuned this weekend for my live blogging read through of Kate Goldman’s ‘In Love With A Haunted House’, as well as little something extra on Sunday as well ;)

Happy jamming!

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