Strawberry Jam

We went strawberry picking last weekend.  I have to admit strawberries are something I really struggle to grow well.  I think this is probably for a number of reasons.  Partially limitations around space, partially limitations around sunlight, but mostly limitations around my level of care and attention (ie the slugs seem to get all the best fruit….).  As a result of all this neglect I tend to outsource strawberry growing to the professionals and this means a number of trips to the pick your own in Bacchus Marsh.

Now I have to say that as much as I enjoyed this years pick I don’t think the quality was as good as in previous years.  Not sure if this is because:

  1.  A few years ago I was so excited to eat a variety other than ‘Elsanta’, which is pretty much the only strawberry variety which you can get easily in the UK, that anything tasted good.
  2. This just not a great season.
  3. That the Bacchus Marsh strawberry farm has ….shock horror….switched varieties.

This year the berries seemed much bigger but not nearly so flavourful.  Now this might be a result of the wet winter but Spring has been dry so I’m not too sure about that theory.  Maybe someone will be able to provide insight?

Strawberry picking in my house basically means the kids run up and down the rows filling as many containers as possible as quickly as possible while eating as many as possible as they go.  That is pretty much how things went last week which meant we left with far too many strawberries to just eat fresh.  At $9kg they were just about cheap enough to consider making jam and that’s exactly what I did.  Or at least that’s what I did if you consider strawberry syrup with fruit lumps jam.  Luckily I do and here it is:

There are more jars but I do like to photograph things in 3s when I can.

My mother always tells me that strawberry jam is hard, naturally I usually dismiss her concerns in a display of bravado.  Well it turns out she is right, and not for the first time either.  I have made strawberry syrup for the past 3 years.  This time though I’ve done some research (after making the jam…) and apparently the key is ensuring the jam reaches the right temperature and then it will gel.  That would be in the bit in the recipe that said ‘hard boil the jam for 5 minutes’, only I couldn’t because I’d over filled my pot and hard boiling would have resulted in a sticky mess (or more of a sticky mess) to clean off the stove.   So now I have some lovely strawberry syrup which luckily tastes delicious mixed through greek yoghurt.  Life is good.

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30 Responses to Strawberry Jam

  1. Very wet or lack of sun can mean strawberries don’t taste as good. Or have they replanted with a different variety. No Elsanta on our plot we have five different varieties with many more to choose from – or do you mean to buy in the shops? Until a few years ago Elsanta was the only shop variety as it has resistance to disease and bad weather, but now many strawberries are grown in polytunnels so other varieties are being grown,

    • Liz says:

      I didn’t grow them in the UK so yeah I was talking about shop ones. To be fair Elsanta can be lovely but having variety is nice as well. 5 varieties sounds wonderful.

  2. Daphne says:

    That is one thing I love about jam. If it doesn’t work it is still delicious. I’ve found that around here when I buy strawberries at the farmers markets that the small earlier ones are very tasty and the larger later ones aren’t as good. I haven’t a clue what varieties they use though. I’ve found I like my earlier one best which is Earliglow.

    • Liz says:

      I think i prefer smaller ones too. The ones that mum and dad grow tend to be small and absolutely delicious. I will have to explore what varieties are available here.

  3. Emily says:

    I’m making strawberry jam today, but I picked these strawberries in June and put them through the food mill, then froze them. Now I’m getting Christmas gifts ready by boiling them into jam. I don’t use added pectin, so my strawberry jam always takes more then an hour. Hope it sets soon!

  4. Sarah says:

    I’ve never yet got strawberry jam to set right – always turns out on the syrupy side of set. But the flavour is so good, it’s worth the struggle it takes to keep it on the toast. And if all else fails, I call it sauce and serve it with ice cream! Enjoy your jam!

  5. Balvinder says:

    I grow them in containers from decoration point of view.
    I wish they never went out of season. They taste great in everything. Although we do get them year round but they don’t taste the same. Your jam looks perfect and the picture in three’s does look perfect, too.

    • Liz says:

      I am trying containers at the moment. The hanging one I had high hopes for is proving something of a failure but perhaps the big pot will work. I would have thought I should have had some crop by now though….

  6. Louise says:

    Jam, syrup – lovely anyway. Beautiful colour!

  7. Nancy Davis says:

    Looks so delicious even if it didn’t turn out as jam!!!!!! Nancy

  8. Nina says:

    There’s nothing like a back-lit jar of goodness, is there? Your jam positively sparkles!

    I’ve never made jam, due to my missing sweet-tooth, but I should have a try one day. I remember ‘pflaumenmus’ from my youth which is a very thick and not too sweet dark plum spread. Hmm, must google and see if I can find a recipe.

    • Liz says:

      Oooo that sounds interesting – not something I’ve heard about before. I haven’t check mum’s plum tree late to see how pick her crop will be but there’s usually more than enough for me to experiment with.

  9. Bek says:

    On the taste thing, I always find strawberries taste best at the height of the season, despite the variety. I have Cambridge Rival, Hokowase, Alinta and Aroma and despite the first two being infinately superior flavour wise to the second two, they all (to me) taste best in mid-late Dec compared to when they first start cropping in Oct/Nov. On the jam making, I always add pectin to strawberry and raspberry jam to help it set, as I once burnt strawberry jam trying to get it to cook enough to set, and will never go through that pain again if I can avoid it.

    • Liz says:

      Ah, do you know I think we usually go strawberry picking about mid to late December so maybe I have falsely accused the Bacchus Marsh farm of varietal change. I definitely have to test this theory! I’m glad to know you add pectin, I have this weird determination to avoid it but now knowing you do perhaps I should give in and get some.

      • John Cotterell says:

        Hi Liz

        You can buy commercial pectin in any large store under the name Jamsetta. The instructions on the back are how to make (you guessed it) strawberry jam!

        Regards, John

        • Liz says:

          I know but I want to believe I don’t need it (all evidence to the contrary)

          • John Cotterell says:

            Fair enough but you do use sugar don’t you and that is processed plant juice – so is pectin?

            However if you want to go down the ‘all back in the olden days natural’ route there are plenty of recipes for making your own pectin using apples – under-ripe Granny Smiths sound like the go.

            Google ‘homemade apple jelly pectin’. The big catch from my point of view is, aside from I couldn’t be bothered, that it takes longer to make than the jam but………..

            Go on, be brave, go and buy the Jamsetta!

  10. Leanne Cole says:

    I cannot tell a lie, I do not like strawberry jam. I find it too sweet, but we are hoping that the raspberries will be plenty and we can make raspberry jam.

    • John Cotterell says:

      Hi Leanne,
      I am inclined to agree with you but for me the cure lies in increasing the pectin to help getting a good set.
      Do that by adding the juice of three/four lemons. It kills off some of the sweetness without ruining the flavour and adds much needed pectin which strawberries sadly lack. you might try the same with raspberries.
      Regards, John

    • Liz says:

      I love raspberry jam – just delicious isn’t it?

  11. John Cotterell says:

    From memory it took 3/4 lemons per kg of fruit but I gave into certainty many years ago and just reach for the Jamsetta now. Too many incidents like Bek’s for my liking.
    And I have deep aversion to seeing good food wasted.

  12. sharon says:

    Funny thing is i live In Bacchus Marsh but i have never been to the strawberry farm. Its on my list to do this season, as i dont think i will get enough fruit from my 6 plants to keep me happy 🙂

    • Liz says:

      Its often the things closest to us that we don’t get round to doing isn’t it? I reckon half of Melbourne’s there on the weekends though. I’m hopefully going to get there again before Christmas – but this time I want cherries.

  13. I just made strawberry jam tonight. I have a feeling is strawberry syrup too. I’d love to now te recipe you use!

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