Cheat’s Homemade Strawberry Jam
Before today, “Homemade Jam” has only ever been something I’ve picked up from school fetes or quaint little road side stalls on country drives. You know the cute little jars with pretty fabric tied around the lid.
A stereotype I know, but I picture plump old ladies huddled over the stove stirring vigilantly with a wooden spoon while the jam bubbles away like molten lava. Of course, she has her own secret recipe which has been lovingly passed down from generation to generation. Yet, making jam isn’t just women’s business. I know a few blokes who make it although despite such gender equity, I still I automatically think of the CWA (Country Women’s Association) when I think of homemade jam.
Although, as we all know, jam always tastes better when it’s homemade, I’ve always skipped passed jam recipes before, feeling no urge to conquer that particular mountain. Even though I am a good cook and I love cooking, making jam has always seemed a bit too tricky. Besides, I live in the city and I can’t access fruit by the crate. So I’ve always been quite happy to buy my jams “ready to go”.
Well, my attitude towards making “Homemade Jam” all changed when I found this fabulous recipe in the Pink Lady Cookbook. The Pink Ladies are volunteers at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney where my medical team is based. I don’t know whether it is a Pink Lady thing to cut corners but when you are working around sick people and their families, you soon realise we desperately need to cut corners and apply the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)…especially when it comes to cooking! I also couldn’t help feeling that this recipe was a bit subversive. After all, isn’t the whole ritual of making homemade jam in a pot on a hot stove sacred? “Nuking” it felt completely irreverent! I also have to admit that it felt strange to cook strawberries. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a strawberry before!!
That said, I like a lateral approach. Besides, I started fancying myself as a bit of a local “Jam Queen”. Anyone can whip up scones but it’s quite another thing to make your own jam. That’s guaranteed brownie points!
Well, I tried making the jam with my daughter Millie this morning. Last week, she was hassling me to sew doll’s clothes before school but today when I was prepared and had a fun, easy activity we could fit in before school, she wasn’t in the mood. It was, after all, Monday morning and she was looking pretty tired. Moreover, the computer was calling. I was a bit let down by her lack of enthusiasm. She cut up half the strawberries, juiced half the lemon and was off. She didn’t even wait to see the jam go into the microwave and that’s what I thought was the fun bit.
Brother Jack wasn’t interested either.
So much for bonding and sharing! We couldn’t even get through this 15 minute activity together that was fun!
Disappointed by the kids’ lack of interest, I made allowances for “the ignorance of youth”. Of course, they had no idea just how difficult it usually is to make jam. As far as they’re concerned, it’s birthed inside glass jars from the supermarket. They are used to me cooking so that’s nothing special either. They also had a good dose of Mummy yesterday so they weren’t lacking on that front as well. So there I was with nobody watching my gold medal moment…not even the dog! “That’s life”, as our notorious Australian bushranger Ned Kelly said as he went up to the gallows.
Let’s hope the kids will be more interested when it actually comes to eating the jam on pancakes tonight. Even though the jam tastes great, there are no guarantees that the kids will actually eat it. Moreover, they’ll have to finish their dinner first! Looks like Geoff and I will be enjoying it!
At least, I gave myself a gold medal for my efforts even if no one else was paying attention. I thought I was rather clever making jam before school, even though my critics could deem it a distraction. Of course, I should have been more focused and emptied the dishwasher instead but I was trying to connect with my kids even if they were more connected to my computer!
Anyway, so how did the actual jam turn out? Could microwave jam ever taste as good as the real thing?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
I dipped my finger in the end product and it tastes authentically homemade with a delightful tang. No one would ever suspect that that I’d nuked it!
I won’t tell if you don’t tell!
Moreover, in this instance, jam making also had an unexpected bonus. The jam boiled over creating some very striking splatter effects. You could almost call them “works of art”. Thank goodness for dishwashers!
So when the recipe calls for a deep, large bowl it really means a deep, large bowl and not the standard bowl from your vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster. I would also recommend keeping a close eye on proceedings. Don’t turn your back. That would suggest (and I mean suggest) that making jam before school is possibly not the best time to do it even though the recipe is quick and simple.
Cheats’ Strawberry Jam
1 punnet of strawberries (approx 250g)
½ cup Sugar
Juice of a Small Lemon
- Cut and hull strawberries; place in a deep, large microwave proof bowl.
- Add sugar and lemon juice.
- Cook on high in the microwave (100w) for approximately 10-12 minutes.
- Stir every couple of minutes and keep a close eye on proceedings to prevent boiling over.
- This makes one small jar of jam or about 250g’s worth…just enough for a batch of scones.
- No need for preservatives of any kind. This jam is guaranteed to disappear before sunset!