Very quickly, after describing my attempts at perfecting my jam, her 87-year old sister said "my dear, are you using pectin? If you are, get rid of it. That's why it hasn't turned out." I was confused at first, but then prompted her for more details. She said that pectin starting being used in the 50s (according to her) to help make more of the jam- it made the fruit "go further". She said it acted as a thickener so you wouldn't reduce your jam as much and would have more. A-ha! Turns out there are lots of recipes for pectin-free jam. I decided to give it a whirl.
I used approximately 6 cups of fresh, local, juicy strawberries, 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, one stem of basil and 2.5 cups of sugar. I didn't want anything too sweet and the strawberries were already naturally sweet.
I mashed up the strawberries in my non-stick dutch oven pot, then poured the sugar over them. I added the vinegar and basil. I brought it to a boil, skimming off the foam that developed. I removed the basil stem about 1/2 way through the process. I kept stirring (with a wooden spoon), skimming, and stirring some more. I let it boil at a medium heat until it reduced quite a bit to the consistency I was looking for. In total, it was about 25 minutes from the start to this point. It will vary for each of us, depending on altitude, water content in the fruit, and heat from the stove.
|Checking for consistency|