Thursday, July 11, 2013

Homemade Pectin & Strawberry Jam

Lately, I've been spending my weekends at my sister's place in Nettuno, a seaside area not too far from Rome.  From the very moment I get there and walk through the door I detach from reality, in a good way.  Especially when I see my nearly 3 year old nephew hiding under the table, covering his face with his hand, leaving just that tiny space in between his fingers to see what's happening.  That's the hint for me to play the roll, pretending not to see him while he uses all his effort to be the invisible man.  As I search throughout the house he silently crawls up behind my back and jumps on me giving me the chubbiest of hugs and the juiciest of kisses.  That's his welcoming and my weak surrender. 
While the bundle of sweetness (my nephew) moves on to welcome my son and husband, I move towards the balcony that opens towards the sea.  The stretch of blue and the summer feel keeps me glued to the scenery.  A scenery that captures and removes any flying thought and drains my brain, inducing to a neutral state of mind that allows to breathe colors and touch moods like as of normal practice.  The sight of the breaking dawn and the evening dusk are worth the waking and the waiting. 

The sunday morning follows steps of routine. The first mandatory stop is at the piazza where we grab our newspaper and head straight to the caffe' where we sit at our favorite table and order cornetto and cappuccino.  We take our time to enjoy and plan the rest of the day which never changes... it's always the beach, the beach and the beach, a swim and back to the beach, lunch and back to the beach, a snack and back to the beach and then... out to dinner.  Some napping, some reading, lots of eating.  Lazy and relaxing is what we want and what we get.
On our way back from breakfast the other week, we stopped to buy some fruit at the Piazza del Mercato in Nettuno, where we discovered a fruit and vegetable stand owned by two young sisters,  "Da Lella" .  They sell the most sweetest "untreated" strawberries I have ever tasted in my EN-TI-RE life.  The next day I went back and ordered 5 kilos to make some jam.  If I could have avoided the sugar I would have, but jams require sugar, a consistent amount of sugar.  I remember how my grandmother used to dose equal portions of sugar and fruit, 1 kilo of fruit, 1 kilo of sugar...lots of boiling, endless boiling and jams that would last for years.  I don't need to make jams that last for years, I'd rather have less jam with less sugar and more fruit.  These strawberries needed justice and the sugar was just going to overwhelm all of its natural sweetness. So, I reduced the quantity of sugar to the minimum and added a homemade pectin which thickened the jam quickly; hence less boiling time.  As a result, I have 10 small jars of strawberry jam of a remarkable fruity taste that will be used for tarts, cookies, on bread for breakfast and tons of who knows what else.

I named this jam "The Sweetest Thing" after my nephew who is the sweetest OF things.
Homemade Pectin
7-8 large sliced green apples, like Granny Smith or Crabapples (even better) with peels and cores.  
4 cups water
2 tbsp lemon juice

Wash the apples and chop them in pieces, don't peel.  Put them in a pot with 4 cups of water, 2 tbsp of lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Let it boil until it reduces, about 30- 45 minutes.  Strain through a cheesecloth and boil the juice for another 20 minutes.  Pour in sanitized jars, seal them, and process in a water bath.

ratio 1 kilo:300 gr sugar 

Wash, dry and hull the strawberries.  Place them whole in a high edged pot, cook the strawberries for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, add the sugar and lemon juice, continue to stir.    Add 1 cup of homemade pectin.  Boil for 1 hour and test if the jam is ready by placing a small amount of jam on a plate, draw a line through the middle of the jam to make a channel.  If the channel remains in place, the jam is ready, if the jam oozes back inwards to rejoin the broken halves more cooking time is needed.  When the jam is ready pour in sanitized jars, seal, and process in a water bath.

Note: you may need to add more pectin, it depends on how thick you want your jam.  Start with a cup and slowly work your way by increasing the amount in small doses until you reach the consistency of your preference.


  1. I love this post! beautiful pictures and very much interested about the home made pectine! wanna try it soon.
    have a good relaxing week end! I'm off today and Monday, going taking pictures of sunflowers fields over the week end! Can I book you for a coffee or lunch next week? Baci, B.

    1. Thank you Barbara! My little assistant had fun taking these pictures, he actually chose which were supposed to be published. Sunflowers?? I bet you are going to Tuscany. Enjoy! For the pectin...I'll bring you the apples ;-) Un abbraccio. E

  2. great pictures and wonderfully written. It felt like i was getting a tour too:) nothing beats a homemade strawberry jam.

  3. I love strawberries and most of all I love those chubby hands. Thank you for this post. I enjoyed every single word of it! Stef

  4. Strawberries are wonderful fruits and that jam looks delightful. I love your black & white/color pictures.



    1. Thank you Rosa. I know you have a particular passion for B/W photos, your compliment makes me happy.

  5. Questa tinta di rosso fa venire voglia di ballare con energia... dà carica, trasmette positività... :-)

    1. Ciao Francesca :) la positività trova sempre spazio nella mia vita se poi riesco a trasmetterla ad altri mi rende particolarmente felice. Buona giornata!