Dear Reader, for three days Jack has toiled (Waited), he has worked his fingers to the bone (Looked at the bowl occasionally), all for you, dear reader, all for you (Him). Here am I, yet again in the midst of my adoring fans, you can’t hear them cheering as a hush has fallen. You can’t see them because they’re shy. I did say that this year would yield more recipes and I have kept that promise. Today we have another recipe from that old book, a recipe that takes three days! I will mention this: I picked the strawberries while they were half ripe, apparently this means they’ll contain more pectin than ripe ones, I’m learning all the time, and I can’t say how fully ripe strawberries would work. It’d be less thick of course, maybe more of a runny jam, if you thickened it it’d just be jam then. I’d hazard a guess that this was a method of using under ripe small berries in the days when kitchen gardens were common and food wasn’t as plentiful and convenient as it is now. Or maybe I’m just shaping a narrative that suits the image of the occasionally anachronistic Jack. Hey, I have jam, you know how the saying goes: In the land of bread and butter the man with the jam rules supreme. Is so a saying…
I couldn’t get exact uniform strawberries, I just went as close as possible. The first stage is pretty uninteresting. I used a plastic bowl, but since you’ll be boiling it the next day you’d be better with a glass one. We live and learn. You can see the juices being drawn out slowly.
I’m not sure if this is killing bacteria or developing pectin. What you’ll end up with is a very thin sugar syrup with strawberries floating in it. They bob up and down all swollen with the sugary syrup. They were still firm at this stage, but you do want to be careful not to burst them. Again, nothing much to report. I only used a pound of strawberries as that was more than enough for what I want. It filled three of the small Meridian nut butter jars with a little for testing.
Okay, final day. This isn’t that different from making jam. Freezer is filled with three little saucers this time as I thought I might have to make multiple tests. I was right. The butter is my own tweak, it removes that white froth, the fruit scum, but you can use a spoon or just leave it, it won’t look so pretty but it’ll make it vegan. I’m not sure if margarine works, or coconut oil, maybe a dear reader does? This is the do or die part, thankfully you can keep boiling until it sets, it’s just a matter of how much whole fruit you want left. I had to push it a bit, but there were plenty of chunky little strawberries. I scooped those into the jars first then added the syrup. Solely for effect, but it is pretty. I think it took about eight or ten minutes to boil, three times overall. It doesn’t set like jam, it didn’t crinkle, but the line I drew remained and my tester was thick, much thicker than just sugar syrup is. As for the taste, oh, dear reader, how can sugar and fruit taste so good. The texture is amazing, it’s so thick and rich, the pieces of fruit suspended in it make it amazing. It’s so different from jam. You really can’t beat homemade. This would be incredible on sponge or in tartlets. It’d be thick enough to stop it spreading too much, but not so thick as to fail to spread evenly. For me, well, I’ll pop it in the cupboard for a while. It has a shorter use by date, around six months, give or take I suppose, like with all homemade foods. I’ll have it in the Winter when the fruit bushes have died back. It’ll taste sweeter then. Until later, dear reader.
450g Under Ripe Strawberries Fresh or Frozen
Juice of 1 Small Lemon
Optional: 2 Tbsp Butter
1. Place a layer of Strawberries in a glass bowl, then a layer of sugar, repeat until everything has been used. Pour over the Lemon Juice then let sit, covered with a dishcloth for 24 hours.
2. Pour the Mixture, the Sugar should have drawn out the juices from the Strawberries, into a pot, bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, only stirring if needed and while being careful not to break up the fruit. Return to the bowl. Leave, covered, for another 24 hours.
3. Place a small plate in the Freezer. Pour the Mixture, now slightly syrupy, into a pot, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a medium-high. Again, only stirring if needed and while being careful not to break up the fruit. If using Butter add after five minutes then return to heat until scum has cleared. Alternatively: Skim scum with a perforated spoon. Simmer until setting point has been reached. Simmer for 5 minutes intervals then test. Return to heat at 2 minutes intervals. To check drop a little of the syrup onto the cold plate and run a finger through, if the line stays then the Syrup is ready. Let cool for a few minutes to allow the fruit to sink.
4. Wet Clean Jars and heat in the microwave for one to two minutes until dry. While they sterilise soak the lids in boiling water for a minute or two. Pour the still warm Conserve into the prepared Jars while they’re hot and over with a wax lid then screw on lids and let rest at room temperature overnight.
8. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.