Jam making. The two words bring nightmares to the heart of many that have spend hours tolling away in their kitchens to make jam to have for months on end. It’s a fine way to go about it. You end up being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor long after those fruits are no longer in season. The reason why it’s such a nightmare is that it’s a long process to make. You have to boil the jam, then boil the jars, then boil the jam in the jars. If it’s not a labor of love than it’s just torture on a hot summer day. I think when people think of jam making it’s time for a paradigm shift. In this case it’s not go big or go home, it’s go small, and spend more time relaxing at home.
I have been getting into making small batches of jam. Reasons why:
1. It’s easy and fast. You don’t have to spend all day. You can have your single jar of jam much sooner.
2. The taste is better. When you don’t cook the fruit as long as you do in the big batch the flavor of the fruit is preserved (I made a funny!).
3. Using what I have. I have a method of making jam that allows me to use the fruit I have in whatever amount I have without having to worry so much about cup and fruit measuring.
The first small batch jam I made this year is strawberry. It’s the first fruit to come into season here in Michigan. Strawberry has always been my favorite jam. So I couldn’t wait to give it the small batch treatment. To up the flavor even more, I wanted to add some vanilla beans.
For small batch jam making all I do is weight out my sliced strawberries, weight out my sugar. Add in 1 vanilla bean per quart of strawberries (1 quart of strawberries is about 1 1/2 pounds). Allow the berries to macerate in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Then cook in a large frying pan. I use a frying pan because it allows for more surface area for water to evaporate, making the process go quicker. Remember the quicker you cook, then more flavor is keep intact. I will add pectin about 1 teaspoon per 2 cups of fruit if needed, I think strawberries can use some added pectin.
- 1 quart fresh strawberries (about 1½ pounds), tops removed and quartered
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1-2 teaspoons classic powered pectin
- enough sugar to equal the weight of the strawberries
- Prepare the strawberries. Weight them out. Add equal amount of sugar by weight.
- Cut open and scrap out 1 vanilla bean. Add to the fruit/sugar
- Allow to macerate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Heat a large/wide frying pan over high heat.
- Pour in the fruit mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of pectin for 2 cups of macerated fruit
- Place a plate into the freezer.
- Bring to a boil. Continually stirring until the jam thickens about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Place a little bit of jam onto the plate in your freezer. Place back in the freezer, wait 1 mintue. If the jam does not move on the plate, then it's done. If it seems too runny still cook it a bit longer and try again. You can add 1 more teaspoon of pectin if you think it needs it.
This jam is the best I ever made. The strawberry flavor is so bold. Just look at beautifully red the jam is. The vanilla bean adds a nice note to really round out the flavor. This will be a go-to to every Michigan strawberry season.