Sugar: basic element for making strawberry jam
Sugar in jam, obviously unavoidable... Good to know: to deserve the name "jam" according to French and European regulations, the final preparation must not contain less than 55% sugar, counting the added sugar and that contained in fruit.
Below this limit, it is a “fruit preparation”.
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Sugar is the ingredient that will guarantee the good preservation of the product, preventing the development of bacteria.
So, no room for improvisation: you must count at least 60% sugar for 100 g of fruit in the recipe.
It is also necessary to take into account the maturity of the fruits and their natural sugar level: if, for 1 kg of very ripe strawberries, 600 g of sugar can be enough, it will be necessary to add more for fruits that are a little "fair" in maturity.
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How to make and succeed a good strawberry jam?
How to make a good homemade strawberry jam?
It starts with choosing the right fruits!
Particular attention must then be paid to cooking, the key to a jam that keeps for a long time, with the ideal texture...
The choice of fruit
The choice of fruit
No room for mediocre fruit: if the strawberries are not ripe enough, or, conversely, too advanced, the jam will be disappointing, regardless of the amount of sugar added to it... ideal for a good jam is therefore to opt for strawberries at full maturity, at the heart of the season which extends approximately from May to July, and for varieties renowned for their intense flavor that cooking will not attenuate too much: Sengana, Gariguette, Reine des Vallées, Mara des Bois…
The sugar/strawberry mixture must be cooked with precision: too little, and the jam will be too fluid and will look more like fruit in syrup;
too long, and the sugar may caramelize, giving a compact texture similar to fruit paste.
The steps are simple, just:
Cut the strawberries into pieces before cooking, except for the smallest ones which may remain whole.
Add lemon juice to the sugar/strawberry mixture;
everything can macerate for a few hours in the cooking container.
Cook the strawberry jam ideally in a copper basin: this metal contributes, by a chemical reaction with the pectin contained in the lemon juice, to give an ideal consistency to the jam.
Cook over high heat, skimming regularly for 20 to 30 minutes from boiling.
Warning: with a special sugar for jam, cooking will take less time: about 10 minutes.
Put the jam in jars at the end of cooking, when it is still hot;
and turn the jars over to create a vacuum, it will keep for several months.
It is also possible to sterilize the jam.
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How to rectify jam that is too runny?
The jam is too fluid after cooking?
Several causes can be at the origin of the problem:
Cooking too short: just continue cooking for as long as necessary.
To find out if the cooking is sufficient, the trick is to take a drop of jam and pour it onto a plate at room temperature;
if the drop sets quickly without dripping, it's ready!
Forgetting to add lemon juice: as a result, the jam lacks pectin and fails to “set”.
The use of a "special jam" gelling sugar can avoid this problem: enriched with fruit pectin and citric acid, it gives the strawberry jam the ideal consistency.
But if the damage is already done, only the addition of powdered pectin during cooking can possibly make up for the damage!