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Strawberries

It’s the last day of the school term – summer holidays are just about here!  And that means six weeks of not having to rush everyone out of the house on a morning, trying to get to the bus stop before the school bus does.  Even better, it means there will be more time to for breakfast!  Adding a spoonful of jam to a piece of toast always seems like an extravagance on a school day –precious seconds are being wasted in the time it takes to spread the jam across the buttered toast.  And besides, there’s no time to appreciate it anyway.  But from tomorrow morning, there will be jam!

Strawberry

Right now, the jam of choice in our house is strawberry.  Seasonal and with a lovely rich red colour.  Strawberries on their own make a very good jam – but add basil and you have a whole new flavour combination going on.  Strawberry and basil jam is definitely a grown-up version of strawberry on its own jam.  Not so sweet, but still with that fresh taste a good strawberry jam should have.

Strawberries don’t contain a lot of pectin, which is what helps the jam to set.  Last year, when I made a batch of strawberry jam that refuse to set, I swore I’d never make it again (it ended up being used as strawberry sauce for ice cream).  This time I got a lovely ‘loose set’ jam, not as jelly-like as some shop bought preserves but enough stay on the toast when you pick it up.

I’m planning to make the most of the more relaxed holiday breakfast times – there are only so many weeks before the school term starts again!

This recipe is my entry for Karen’s ‘Herbs on Saturday’ challenge, hosted this month by Vanesther from Bangers & Mash.  There’s already a long list of lovely summer recipes in this month’s challenge, why not take a look?

 

Strawberry & Basil Jam

Strawberry jam

900g fresh strawberries

400g preserving sugar

Zest & juice of 1 lemon

Small handful of basil leaves

A small knob of butter (optional)

Wash and carefully dry the strawberries (the drying really is important, because any excess water will make it harder to get the jam to set).  Halve or quarter any large strawberries and put them all in a big pan.

Add the sugar, lemon zest and juice and put the pan over a low heat.  Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then increase the heat to bring the fruit to a boil.  Allow to boil for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and test for a set (I put a small amount of jam on a chilled saucer, allow it to cool a little then push the jam gently to see if a ‘skin’ has started to form).  If the setting point hasn’t been reached, return the pan to the heat and boil for a further 5 minutes before testing again.

Once the setting point has been reached, chop or tear the basil leaves to get fairly small pieces and stir them into the jam.  Either use a spoon to skim off any scum that has formed on the top of the jam, or stir in a small knob of butter to disperse it.  Pour or spoon the warm jam into sterilised jars and cover the tops with wax paper discs.

I keep homemade strawberry jam in fridge because for me it doesn’t seem to keep as well as other jams – but maybe that’s just me!