Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Two Summer Strawberry Recipes

Last week we needed around 8 punnets of strawberries for a kitchen trial but due to a bit of a communication mix up we ended up with two lots of 8 punnets, meaning we had plenty left over and I got to bring 4 x 400g punnets home with me on Friday. What a hardship working can be.

I happily munched my way through a few of them but knew I definitely had to make something with them too. I decided upon strawberry jam and strawberry ice cream. I delegated 1 punnet plus 100g to the ice cream and the rest to the jam.

Sunny Strawberry Jam
This produced a really flavoursome, summery and vibrantly red strawberry jam. In order for jam to ‘set’ it requires pectin which occurs naturally in fruits with certain fruits containing more than others. Strawberries contain very little pectin and so the addition of the lemon juice is essential to help the jam ‘set’ as it is an excellent source of pectin. It also helps to lift the flavour of jam but without imparting any obvious lemony flavour. Special preserving sugar containing pectin or pectin substitutes can also be used.

The jam also contains some lovely great chunks of strawberry that really gave an extra texture and flavour boost upon eating. It’s also not too sweet, containing less sugar than some other recipes, which I like, but feel free to add more to your taste. I tried this spread onto a freshly baked crusty white bread roll and it was heavenly, a real taste of summer. It would also be wonderful spread on freshly baked scones with cream for afternoon tea, spread on your morning toast, used as a filling for cakes and biscuits or baked into jam tarts. The choice is yours. Either way, the end result I feel is far superior to anything you can buy from the supermarket and you have the added option of adding your own flavour additions to the jam during production. E.g. vanilla, mint, black pepper, chocolate or anything else that takes your fancy.

1.1kg strawberries
4 tbsp water
400g golden granulated sugar
1 lemon

Place three 425ml jam jars and their lids into the oven the turn on to 100C to sterilise the jars.
Twist the leafy tops off the strawberries and make sure any remaining green stalk is removed.
Place the strawberries into a large sauce pan along with the juice from the lemon and 4 tbsp water, or enough to just over the base of the pan to prevent the strawberries from initially burning.
Turn onto quite a high heat and allow to simmer and boil until the strawberries have begun to release a lot of their juice and turn mushy.
Using a potato masher, gently squash and brake up the particularly large strawberries. Don’t turn it into a puree though, you still want some nice chunks left.
Then add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Place a clean saucer into the fridge to go cold.
Bring the mixture to the boil and allow to reduce and thicken slightly, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the base of the pan.
Remove the cold saucer from the fridge and drizzle on a small pool of the jam mixture and return to the fridge for 1-2 minutes.
Remove the saucer from the fridge again and using your index finger push the little puddle of jam away from you. If the surface ripples then the jam is ready. If not, then continue to boil for a little longer before repeating the test. The more obvious the ripple effect, the firmer or more ‘set’ your jam will be. I like my jar still fairly soft and so I removed it from the heat after the first few ripples appeared.
Remove the jars from the oven and carefully divide the jam mixture between them (It will be extremely hot). I find a small ladle works best for this. Make sure they are well filled.
Then using oven or rubber gloves, tightly screw on the lids and leave the jars to cool before storing in a cool place until opened. Once opened they should then be stored in the fridge.
Makes 3 large jars.

Strawberry Ice cream
This ice cream is very light and summery. The large quantity of pureed strawberries not only add a strong strawberry flavour but also turn the ice cream a wonderful shade of deep pink. It also contains some chopped strawberries that are added at the last minutes producing little jewels of fresh strawberry flecked throughout the ice cream. If using bought fresh custard then the whole ice cream can be prepared and ready to eat in under an hour. The honey adds a nice subtle sweetness and helps keep the ice cream slightly softer upon freezing.

400g strawberries
100g extra strawberries
1 tbsp runny honey
500ml fresh custard – bought or home made.

Either make or buy 500ml of fresh custard and chill until thoroughly cold in the fridge.
Remove the green leafy tops from all the strawberries and puree 400g’s worth using a hand blender or food processor.
Stir the strawberry puree and honey into the custard, it will turn a wonderful shade of pink, and chill again until ready to use.
Prepare your ice cream machine as per manufacturer’s instructions, pour in the ice cream mix and churn until starting to go thick and creamy.
Meanwhile finely chop the remaining 100g of strawberries.
When the ice cream is thickened add the chopped strawberries and along to mix in thoroughly.
Transfer the ice cream to a freezer proof container and freeze until required.
If the ice cream if left in the freezer for more than a few hours, remember to remove from the freezer and allowing to soften for around 20-30minutes before serving.
Makes 1 litre ice cream.

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