We eat a lot of jam. Most mornings with one of my Home Made Nut Butters on Ezekiel toast or muffins, or with cheese plates, or stirred into our Quinoa or Rice Porridges. For the longest time, we bought jams like everyone else. I hated the thought of cauldrons of boiling water, sterilizing jars and tongs. Home made jam was not going to happen at my house. That is, until…Bruce started just making it up fresh, one jar at a time, storing it in the fridge. So far he’s made sweet red cherry, blueberry (twice), pear, and yellow cherry. Not a dud in the bunch!
This week, we tried something different. Strawberry Jam using Agar Agar Powder as a thickener. Here is what Wiki says about Agar Agar:
“agar-agar (/ˈɑːɡərˈɑːɡər/, “ah-gər-ah-gər“) is a gelatinous substance derived by boiling a polysaccharide inred algae, where it accumulates in the cell walls of agarophyte and serves as the primary structural support for the algae’s cell walls. Agar is a mixture of two components: the linear polysaccharide agarose, and a heterogeneous mixture of smaller molecules called agaropectin.
Throughout history into modern times, agar has been chiefly used as an ingredient in desserts throughout Asia and also as a solid substrate to contain culture medium for microbiological work. Agar (agar-agar) can be used as a laxative, an appetite suppressant, vegetarian gelatin substitute, a thickener for soups, in fruit preserves, ice cream, and other desserts, as a clarifying agent in brewing, and for sizing paper and fabrics”.
Bruce has been curious about Agar for a while, so when I found it at a Korean Market, we snagged a few packets. Jam seemed a good test product. Two important things he learned from the web: 1) a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly until you get the “feel” of it, and 2) you must boil it to activate it.
Okay, then – Let’s Start Jammin’!
No Mess Home Made Jammin’ Strawberry Jam
1 quart (2 pints) of fresh Strawberries, rinsed
½ cup Water
1 ¼ cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Agar Agar Powder – mixed with 2 TBSP water
Medium Saucepot, Wood Spoon or Paddle, Clean Glass Jar with Tight Fitting Lid
– Remove tops from berries (hull). If desired, cut berries in half Place Hulled berries in the saucepot.
– Add water and sugar; simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Berries will begin to cook down. Liquid will increase and melt the sugar.
Continue to cook another 20-30 or so minutes, until the liquid reduces down by 1/3, and the product thickens a bit.
– Remove from heat. Stir in the Agar Agar powder. Return pot to stove and bring mixture to a boil to activate the Agar.
– Remove from heat, and Cool Completely. It is now ready to try. What do you think??! Yum! Once cooled, place Jam into clean jar.
** TIP: Leave jar open in the fridge overnight to avoid trapping condensation. Then, seal jar tightly and store your jam in the fridge. It will keep for several weeks.
This Recipe is so easy, so useful, and so delicious. Try it with other fruits or berries.
Just fyi, Bruce says if making blueberry jam (my fave), it doesn’t require the agar or pectin – it reduces down thick on its own. Most others do. Use your judgement when experimenting with other fruits.
We hope you decide to give it a go.
Enjoy, and Happy Eating!!