I have such wonderful childhood memories of the strawberry season when my mum would make jam. The house was filled with the deeply comforting aromas of intense, syrupy, well-ripened strawberries. Feeding five children meant that Maman’s jam-making was a small cottage industry – she’d make about 10 litres at a time! (The quantity in this recipe is far less challenging.) She’d skim the froth from the top, and that’s the part my siblings and I would get to eat first. What a gorgeous treat! Often jams are too sweet, which disturbs me. Though my pâtissiers didn’t approve, many years ago I waged war on sugar and especially the quantities we were using in my kitchen. I won! So now my pâtissiers are happy to make a low-sugar jam that’s more colourful and certainly less sweet than others, which means that the fruit flavour triumphs.
For the jam
Strawberries (Buddy, Gariguette or Mara des Bois), chopped
Pectin, fruit or jam pectin is best
To seal the jars
In a small bowl, macerate the strawberries in 230g of the sugar for 15 minutes. The sugar will permeate the fruit, provide better texture and increase the flavours.
In a large, heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat, bring the macerated strawberries to a gentle simmer. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface and cook until the strawberries have broken down.
In a small bowl, mix the remaining 20g of sugar, the pectin and water and leave to one side for 15 minutes so that the sugar can absorb the water and form a paste.
Stir the paste into the warm strawberries, bring to the boil and continue on a boil for 3 minutes.
To test if the jam is the right consistency, pour a tablespoon onto a plate and put the plate in the fridge for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat under the jam. Check the briefly refrigerated jam – it is correctly set if it wrinkles when you push your finger into it. If the jam isn’t quite setting, bring it back to the boil for 5 minutes and repeat the wrinkle test. Once the jam is at a setting consistency, stir in the lemon juice and put it to one side to cool slightly before pouring into sterilised jars.
To create an airtight seal, gently warm the kirsch in a small pan and using a long match or lighter set it alight, then pour a layer of it over the jam. Quickly screw on each lid and leave to cool. This will create a bacteria-free vacuum inside the jar.
Unopened, you can store the strawberry jam in a cool dark place for up to two months. Once open, keep refrigerated and use within two weeks.