The summer fruit season is pretty much done and dusted, but you can hang on to it by making your own strawberry jam. It’s a piece of piss with just three ingredients, and it’s reet tasty.
500g English strawberries
75g vanilla sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Hull the strawberries (remove the leafy top and pale fruit) with the tip of a sharp knife and then wash. Dry off with a tea towel and place in a large pan. Add the vanilla sugar (vanilla sugar is easy to make – every time you scrape out a vanilla pod, put the remains in a jam jar with caster sugar – after a week or so the sugar will take on a lovely vanilla smell and taste) and lemon juice and stir.
Before you put the pan on the heat, get a saucer and place it in the fridge. I’ll explain why in a minute. Next, put the pan on a high heat and bring up to the boil while stirring. Before long the fruit will start to give up its juices, and the mixture will begin to resemble jam. You need to simmer the jam for about 10 minutes to bring it to setting point. A scum will probably develop on the surface of the mixture; skim this off every few minutes.
After 10 minutes take the pan off the heat, and dribble some of the mixture onto your cold saucer. Place the saucer back in the fridge. After a couple of minutes, take it out again and perform the ‘wrinkle’ test by running your finger through the mixture. If it wrinkles, the jam is at setting point and ready to store, if your finger slides through return to the heat for a few minutes and repeat the test.
If the jam is at setting point, put the mixture in a sterilised jar. You can sterilise jars by pouring in boiling water to the top or placing in the oven for a few minutes at 100ºC.
Leave the jam to cool and then eat or refrigerate. It should keep for 3 – 4 weeks.