I was always told that jam is hard to make, takes ages and needs all sorts of complicated equipment. Not true. At least, not true if you make it in the microwave. I have done it zillions of times using any manner and mixture of berries, and other than the odd berry-coloured explosion which had coated the inside of the microwave in a thin layer of gooey sweetness (if I used a bowl which was too small), it’s come out just fine every time.
The recipe below makes just under 2 kg jam (that’s about 4 regular jam pots full), but I usually prepare 5 jars just to be on the safe side. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, but please be careful – the hot jam mixture is VERY HOT and, if the steam has built up it can easily scald your fingers when you remove the clingfilm. Not a great one to do with little kids around – though I’ve found that kids of all ages seem to like scraping out the bowl once it’s cooled.
- 800g strawberries (or other berries if you prefer) – fresh or frozen
- 1kg jam sugar (NB NOT preserving sugar as it doesn’t contain pectin)
- a small knob of unsalted butter
Equipment (other than the usual kitchen bits and bobs)
- large (5 or more l) microwave proof plastic dish – it gets very hot so don’t use anything that could crack
- waxed inserts, polythene circles and rubber bands
- 5 glass jam jars
- hand-held blender
Wash the jars and put in a preheated oven at 180 C for about 15 minutes. Then remove and stand on a heatproof mat until the jam is ready to pour.
Put the fruit in a dish, cover with film and microwave on high for 6 minutes if fresh, 8 minutes if frozen. Carefully remove from the microwave (it will be hot), and use the hand blender to turn your lumpy mush into a smooth liquid. Stir in the sugar and the butter (which will help break up any foam), cover and return to the microwave.
Heat on high for 8 minutes. Very carefully remove it from the microwave (it will now be VERY hot), give it a good stir and return to the microwave for another 8 minutes on high. Keep a bit of an eye on it – if it looks like it might bubble over just pause the cooking for a minute or two, then carry on.
Again, be careful as you remove it from the microwave. You can do the traditional setting test using a smear of jam on a chilled plate, but I’ve found that these timings always produce jam within my tolerance for setness (have I just invented a new word?)
Allow the jam to cool for a few minutes (you don’t want to crack the glass), then carefully pour it into the prepared jars. Cover with a waxed inset, seal with a polythene circle and rubber band, and once the jar has cooled, screw on the lid.