June is strawberry season. 'June-bearing' strawberries are tiny, intensely flavoured and sweet. They're the earliest, local berries to arrive at Canadian markets, and their season lasts only three weeks. They make exquisite strawberry jam — gorgeously scented and bright red. Look for perfectly ripe, freshly picked strawberries at farmers' markets, road-side stands, or ask at your local supermarket. Shop daily (after all it is strawberry season!) and buy only what you need for the day. This vivid strawberry jam contains no added pectin. Since strawberries don't have much natural pectin (pectin creates the gel in jams and jellies), strawberry jams made without additional pectin can be too runny for toast. This recipe overcomes that problem and it's easy for first-time jammers to follow. For interesting variation on this classic jam, try adding a tiny pinch of dried lavender blossoms to enhance the floral aroma. Serve with clotted cream and scones at tea time. Watch a demonstration of this recipe on Online TV.
8 cups (2 baskets) strawberries
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice, strained of seeds
1/2 tsp unsalted butter or margarine (reduces foaming)
1-1/2 tsp dried lavender blossoms (English and French lavenders are sold as culinary herbs), optional
Step 1: Assemble canner pot, jars and lids. Heat water and warm up jars.
Step 2: Hull and dice strawberries. Combine strawberries and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until berries are soft and yielding juice.
Step 3: Pour mixture into a colander set over a large bowl to drain off the syrup. Return hot syrup to the saucepan, and boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until syrup is reduced by half, about 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Add strawberries and lemon juice to the syrup. Add butter/margarine to reduce foam, and lavender if using. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
Step 5: Remove jam from heat. Skim off surface foam with a spoon. Fill hot jars with hot jam leaving 1/4" between top of jam and where lid will be. Wipe off any jam from rim of jars with a wet paper towel. Place lids on each jar. Transfer to pot of boiling water (with enough water to cover jars by 1").
Step 6: Process jars for 10 minutes in boiling water. Turn off heat and let jars sit in water for 5 minutes to settle. Remove jars and place on drying rack without tipping so that seal stays jam-free until cool. Leave jars level on counter for 12 hours. Label jars and store for up to one year.
Makes four to five 1-cup jars.
Watch Eric Vellend and Betsy Aziz demonstrate this recipe on Online TV.