Getting myself out of a (strawberry) jam

While I was picking through quarts of strawberries last week at the grocery store, a woman asked me if I was making jam. “Jam? No way,” I said. “That’s way too complicated for me.” She pooh-poohed my hesitancy and assured me that making fresh berry jam was a piece of cake (that’s a little foreshadowing right there) and that I most certainly could manage it.

The trick, she said, was equal parts, by weight, of fruit and sugar. Simply combine the two in a sauce pan and simmer, and you’ve got yourself some fresh jam to enjoy. Just use it within a couple of weeks, she said, and I’d be all set. Three quarts of strawberries went into my shopping cart. 

Once at home, I washed and cut the berries and then carefully weighed them before sliding them into a sauce pan. I wiped out the bowl I had used for the prepped strawberries and placed it back on my scale and began spooning sugar in to reach the same weight as the fruit, growing concerned at how much more sugar it might take to hit that number. It seemed like far too much.  

Leaving myself at more of a 1 to .75 ratio, I stirred the sugar into the berries and turned the heat to a low simmer. As the fruit grew soft, the liquid in the pot increased as the sugar melted and the potential jam began to look much more like a syrup than anything remotely capable of being spread on toast.  


I was right. Jam is too complicated for me – and this particular attempted batch was far too sweet. After allowing the mess to cool, I poured it into a quart container and placed it in the fridge waiting for inspiration.  

Yesterday, I decided to riff on tiramisu and picked up some mascarpone, heavy cream and lady’s fingers and this morning I got busy. First, I spooned about 8 oz of the cheese into a small bowl and allowed it to soften on the counter for an hour. At the same time I placed the stainless steel bowl and whisk I would be using to make the whipped cream in the fridge to chill. 

Next, I strained the berries, saving the juice for sweetening the mascarpone, the cream and for soaking the lady’s fingers. At that point it was all about layering the components – softened lady’s fingers, whipped mascarpone, macerated berries and whipped cream. I went with two layers, finishing with a ring of halved lady’s fingers and a dollop of fruit in the center. 

I think it looks pretty great and am looking forward to spooning it out later after it sets in the fridge. Bonus that there’s about 2/3 of a cup of the syrup left which I’ll be asking my favorite bartender to incorporate into a cocktail. 

And that, my friends, is how you get yourself out of a jam.

3 thoughts on “Getting myself out of a (strawberry) jam

  1. I was thinking like you, too much sugar…definitely incorporate into a cocktail…what about adding some lemon or lime juice…then pour into a shallow pan and put it in the freezer…taking it out and scrape wit a fork a few times to make a granita? Not sure if that would work …

    1. I love the idea of granita, especially in this weather! I don’t really have that much liquid, though, so I think it’ll be just a couple of fruity cocktails.

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