Homemade jam is really quite easy. Throw some fruit, sugar and lemon juice into a pot and boil for a while until jam-like. You're done. And you end up with a jam that tastes like fresh, sweet fruit reminiscent of the season in which it was picked.
I stared making jam a few years ago. Before that I had always thought that making jam would be a daunting and time-consuming process. Fortunately, there are two ways to get around that:
First, you don't need to use pectin, the powdered gelling agent, to thicken your jam. Your grandma probably didn't use pectin. Fruit, plus lemon juice, plus sugar, and a long enough boil is all you need to make jam. Using pectin is totally fine (and in fact my brother-in-law made a great strawberry jam last summer using pectin), and doing so will give you a more firm consistency like the jam you buy from the store. But, I like to take a more simple route and just throw the fruit into the pot and get a softly-set jam that is great for spreading on toast, scones or even stealing a spoonful straight from the jar.
Second, canning a big batch of jam is a great way to enjoy your fruit all year long. Most summers I buy big batches of fruit and do just that. But, for a small batch of jam this really isn't necessary. It can last for several weeks in the fridge, so you can save yourself all the time of the boiling jars, and just and chill it there. I like to store it in 1/2 pint mason jars, but any glass container will work.
Easy Strawberry Jam
3 pounds strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
2½ cups sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a heavy medium pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 90 minutes.
Ladle jam into jars, cover with lids, and screw on bands gently. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.
Makes approximately 3½ cups.
Notes: You can purchase with mason jars with the lids and rings at most major grocery stores. You'll need four half-pint jars to store this jam. Even though you are not preserving this jam I still like to run the jars, lids and rings through the hottest setting on my dishwasher to sterilize them. Store for 2-4 weeks in the refrigerator.
Here's a bonus recipe. Strawberries generally pair well with basil. And black pepper. And goat cheese. So, I like to combine all three, spread them on toast and top with the jam. It's a yummy and hearty breakfast.
Toast with Basil-Black Pepper-Goat Cheese and Strawberry Jam
2 ounces goat cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon freshly chopped basil
1 grind black pepper
1 piece of whole-grain bread
Toast the bread. While the bread is toasting mash together the goat cheese, milk, basil, and black pepper in a small bowl with a fork. Spread goat cheese mixture on toast. Spread strawberry jam on top.