Introduction: Strawberry Lavender Jam - the Easy Way
I am no jam or preserves expert. I am great at eating and enjoying both though. Could I tell you the differences between the two? Well, probably, because like you, I have access to a thing called Google. But I'm not going to copy and paste or paraphrase an article I found, because this is about making something to eat.
This Instructable helps make a tasty thing to put on bread or ice cream or whatever.
I am also in the cooking school of thought that involves keeping things easy.
I combined knowledge from two recipes I found:
and then modified to what I thought would be a better experience. With a pinch of the reality of cooking.
I believe in one rule when cooking: Every stove and oven is different and the key to success on the palate is experimentation and trusting your gut in the kitchen. I mean, they call it "a pinch" that's not a real unit, that is a sense of things. Yes, someone somewhere came up with a unit measurement later that defines a pinch, but let's be real. So go with your gut. Take this Instructable and then go off on a tangent. What you make will probably be even better!
Step 1: Ingredients & Prep
9 cups strawberries
A bunch of lavender
1.5 cups sugar (preferably organic and least processed, I mean, it's better for you, right)
3 tbsp lemon juice (approx 1 lemon cut in half and squeezed like you were Rocky in training, but if Rocky was like a rock climber and was working on finger strength)
2 large bowls
A saucepan (preferably not aluminum-based as there is something bad with jams and aluminum)
Glass canning jar(s)
Cheese cloth or the like
A wooden spoon and a regular spoon (OR whatever you have available)
COOKING RATIOS [I hate set recipes, so here is the easy recipe ratio breakdown for whatever size you want]
Strawberries [cups] : Sugar [cups] : lemon juice [tbsp] = 3 : 0.5 : 1 [or, whole number ratio: 6 : 1 : 2]
So, I like doing things simple and tasty. Two good rules to live by.
I picked up three large things of strawberries and had a bunch of lavender from a CSA.
1) Wash the strawberries and cut off the stems.
2) Take the purple lavender flowers off their stems and wash them. You can bound them up in cheese cloth now, or later.
3) Turn the oven on to 250 degrees fahrenheit and put the washed jars and lids on a baking sheet in the oven.
Step 2: Cook Stuff
The cooking is relatively simple. Follow:
1) Put strawberries and sugar in the saucepan and bring to simmer. Cook until the strawberries let out their juices and the sugar is dissolved. 5-10 minutes total-ish.
2) Take the saucepan off of the heat and pour the whole saucepan worth into the colander and mix around with a spoon (I used a wooden one since it seems like the cool looking thing to do), to get the juices out.
3) Transfer the colander to a different bowl and take the juices from the first bowl and pour that back into the saucepan.
4) Put a whole bunch of the lavender in cheese cloth (if not done earlier) and then put that in with the juices in the saucepan.
4) Bring the juices to a rolling, frothy boil and let cook for about 20 minutes -- this is called reducing -- the water boils off and creates more of a syrup. Let a bunch boil off, letting boil for about 20 minutes.
5) Now, add the strawberries and any juices from the 2nd bowl, along with the 3 tbsp of lemon juice into the saucepan and simmer some more. About 15 minutes simmering.
6) During this step 5, put a small plate in the freezer. Yup, a small plate.
7) After the 15 minutes on simmer, spoon a little of the "jam" onto the plate in the freezer and see if it gets a bit firmer. It won't gel, per se, as it is homemade jam, but it will be more syrupy. If it is not firm enough to your liking, just add an additional 5 more minutes of simmering and then test again.
8) Turn off heat.
9) Take jars and lid out of oven. (Carefully, they're hot! ... They've been in the oven, so, yeah. But just in case you don't put 3 and 3 together easily.)
10) Clean foam off the top of the syrup in the saucepan. [or don't.]
Step 3: In the Jars
Pour stuff in the jars and tie this bad boy up ...
1) Pour/ladle the jam into the jars filling to 1/4 inch from the top.
2) Wipe lids clean and put lid on jars and then put back into the 250 degree oven.
3) Leave for 20 minutes and then take jars out of oven. In the meantime, maybe clean all the dishes and stuff you used in all the previous steps.
4) Once jars are removed from the oven, let cool overnight.
5) That's it. Refrigerate after opening.
*I over-estimated the jars needed so this fit one large glass jar of mine.
**I saved a little extra lavender so tomorrow I am going to try to make a simple syrup with the remaining lavender and the strawberry soaked lavender in cheese cloth that I ended up with!