Chunky Strawberry Jam

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Strawberries! They are surely one of the most beautiful fruits to photograph. Bright red, glistening and so so pretty! I just cannot stop clicking them.
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As pretty as they look, they are a tad tart for my taste. My little one gobbles them by the dozens though, and the tartness doesn’t seem to bother him at all. I love the flavour and juiciness of them and when I saw this Very Yummy Strawberry Jam on Aparna’s blog, I just had to make it. I have never made jam before and the idea of this no preservative preserve, where I could control the sugar and retain the chunkiness of the fruit, really excited me. Of course it cannot be stored on the shelf all year long but, it is beautiful and flowy, unlike the oversweet clumpy store bought jams. Thanks Aparna for this recipe and for getting me hooked to jam making!
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I followed Aparna’s recipe with some minor changes and additions.
Here goes

1 + ½ kilo of Strawberries, hulled and chopped into small cubes
1 ½ cup of granulated sugar ( Add more as per taste and tartness of the berries)
1 vanilla bean (I had just that one, the recipe calls for three)
1 tsp vanilla extract (skip it in case you have enough vanilla beans)
Lemon rind from 2 large lemons
Juice from 2 large lemons
1 large apple, grated with the peel
3/4 tsp salt
2 glass jars sterilized (I got the water to a rolling boil and then put the bottles in. Boiled for 5 minutes and turned the heat off. I then dropped the lids in. I used Kissan jam bottles)

Wash about a kilo of strawberries and slice the top bits off (hull them). You should have five cups of chopped berries. Save the remaining berries to be used later.

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In a deep vessel add 5 cups of chopped strawberries and add a cup of sugar.
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Slice and scrape the vanilla beans to get the granules out and drop it all in, the granules and the whole bean.
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Mix very well till the sugar starts to dissolve.
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Cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight / 7-8 hours.
The sugar will draw all the juices from the berries and they will be floating in the sweet syrup. This process ensures that the flavour from the berries is released into the jam.
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In a heavy bottomed pan, take this sugar berry mixture and add the lemon rind, lemon juice, grated apple,salt and half a cup of sugar. Hull the remaining half kilo of berries and make a coarse puree in the grinder. Add to the mixture. More sugar can be added here, if desired.
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Bring the mixture to a boil and cook on high flame for ten minutes, stirring in between.
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Put a steel plate in the freezer. We will use this to check if the jam is done (plate test)
Lower the flame and cook till the berries are cooked through. You can mash the fruit if you want depending on how you want your jam to be. I like mine nice and chunky so I didn’t mash at all. The jam will thicken and begin to look glossy. It took me about 30 minutes of cooking.
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To check doneness, drop a tsp of jam on the chilled steel plate. If the jam leaves water and is runny, we need to cook it some more.

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If the jam stays together and leaves no water, it is done. Run a finger through the blob of jam and the lines would keep their place. Done!

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Add a tsp of vanilla extract in case you have no beans. Remove the large pieces of the vanilla bean.
Pour into the glass jars. Cover and leave.
Next morning, transfer to the refrigerator.
This will stay good in the refrigerator for up to two months.
This is one of the most flavourous, fresh and delectable jam I have ever had! I am never buying again 😀
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