When fresh strawberries are at their peak I love to make some jam/compote to keep for later in the year. It is really easy to make, is so much fruitier than most shop bought compotes and it goes with so many things. At the end of the summer, when strawberries are not as plentiful, I recommend making a spiced berry jam using whatever fruits are available! John Duxbury
• Use dark coloured strawberries if possible. The darker their colour the nicer the compote looks.
• If you prefer to keep the strawberries whole, use a drinking straw to push the stalk off the strawberries and then add the sugar, leave overnight and then go straight to step 4. (The sugar will then draw out the juices and firm the fruit.)
• Try and avoid washing the strawberries or using strawberries after it has rained heavily and the fruit is wet - the fruit needs to be as dry as possible. If you are forced to wash the fruit, dry it and spread it out on clean tea cloths to dry further before using. (Any extra moisture will dilute the pectin and make the compote too runny.)
• If you are new to making jam, check out our top tips for homemade jam.
|1 kg||(2¼ lb)||strawberries|
|1||lemon, juice only|
|1 kg||(2¼ lb)||jam sugar|
|1 tsp||butter, if required|
1. Wipe the strawberries clean, hull them and then put them in a large heavy bottomed saucepan or preserving pan.
2. Heat gently for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the strawberries soften slightly. (Don't stir too much or the fruit will disintegrate.)
3. Add the sugar and stir occasionally until it dissolves.
4. Add the lemon juice and then bring to the boil and then boil steadily for 3 minutes for sylt (a runny consistency) or 6 minutes for a firmer set. (Don’t be tempted to go beyond 6 minutes without testing for a setting point, as you may end up with a compote that is over-set and has less flavour.)
5. Remove the scum from the surface with a slotted spoon and then, if there is still some scum left, add a small knob of butter as this helps to disperse any remaining scum.
6. Allow the compote to cool for 15 minutes and then stir and ladle into sterilised jars and cover. Use within 12 months.
This is delicious and interesting compote for grown-ups, but is not suitable for small children because of the spices left in the jam. It is excellent on scones, in porridge or on toast. The exact quantities don't really matter, so long as you use a total of 1 kg (2¼ lb) of fruit.
|500 g||(1¼ lb)||strawberries, preferably smallish berries|
|300 g||(½ lb)||raspberries|
|100 g||(¼ lb)||blueberries|
|100 g||(¼ lb)||blackberries|
|1||lemon, juice finely grated zest|
|1 kg||(5 cups)||jam sugar|
|1 tsp||butter, if required|
1. Hull the strawberries, leaving them whole using a drinking straw as shown in the tips above.
2. Mix all the ingredients in a large pan. Stir thoroughly and leave to macerate for a couple of hours or overnight, until the juices have dissolved most of the sugar.
3. Heat gently, stirring frequently, until the sugar is all dissolved.
4. Increase the heat bring the mixture to a steady boil.
5. Boil rapidly for 6 minutes or until a setting point is reached, stirring only occasionally to prevent burning.
6. Turn off the heat, leave the compote to cool for 5 minutes and then skim off the scum with a slotted spoon. If some scum persists stir in a little butter, which should help disperse the remaining scum.
7. Wait another 10 minutes or so, stir, ladle the jam into sterilised jars and cover. Use within 12 months.
If you want to test for a setting point, place 3 saucers in a freezer before you start heating. When you think you have reached a setting point, turn off the heat and place a teaspoon of the jam on one of the saucers. Wait one minute and then press the surface with your finger. For a firm set, when the setting point is reached the surface should wrinkle. If it doesn't, boil the compote for another minute and repeat the test again, always remembering to turn off the heat whilst testing.
Put the clean jars and their lids into a preheated oven at 140ºC (275ºF, gas 1, fan 130ºC) for 10 minutes to sterilise them.
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