It’s lovely to see the children back at school. The wee ones tripping along the street with their oversized school uniforms, the older ones, with outfits that look like they’ve shrunk in the wash. Takes me back. In my day, a treat after school was a ‘jeely piece’; a thick slice of white bread lathered with butter and lashings of home-made strawberry jam. Not very healthy but we didn’t have carrot sticks in those days.
Scottish strawberries are lovely and with the season coming to an end, prices fall. I use Tate & Lyle preserving sugar with lemon juice and rind to create a set. Alternatively, use Tate & Lyle jam sugar which has pectin added.
Sterilise 6x450g jam jars in the dishwasher. Put a few side plates into the freezer to chill ready to test the jam. You’ll also need 6 rounds of waxed paper.
A small blob of butter
1.5 kilo strawberries
1.3 kilo jam sugar
Juice and pulp of 2 unwaxed lemons
Skin of the lemons diced
Pre-heat oven to 140C/Gas 1. Hull the strawberries and check for any grit or flies, wiping them with a damp cloth.
Choose a deep wide saucepan which will accommodate at least twice the volume of berries and sugar.
Melt the blob of butter in the base of the pan. This prevents sticking and helps reduce any scum that may appear when the fruit starts to boil.
Put the berries into the saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Allow to boil until they soften and start to break down.
Warm the sugar in the oven for 10 minutes then add to the strawberries with the juice and diced lemons. Stir everything together with a long wooden spoon and slowly heat through until all the sugar has dissolved. Check the back of the spoon to ensure there are no sugar granules. Bring to a hard boil and allow to bubble fiercely for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and test a teaspoonful on a cold plate. Allow to cool a little then push the jam with your finger. If it forms a wrinkle and no syrup runs across the plate it is set. If this doesn’t happen, put the jam back onto the heat and boil for a further 10 minutes. Continue to check until you get a set.
Skim any scum and allow the jam to settle for 10 minutes. Pour into the sterilised jars, cover with the paper rounds, and screw lids on once cool.
Store in a cool place. Refrigerate once opened.
Mary Contini OBE is a writer and Director of Valvona & Crolla ltd. We are happy to welcome you in our CaffèBar and shop again, open all day. Book and order online: www. valvonacrolla.com Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. www.richardsonsofwhitehaven.co.uk