The Jam Wars…

I had grand plans today.

I was going to turn this…
into lovely, glorious, home made strawberry jam, but the Goddess of Jam (I am sure there is such a woman and I am sure she has PMS right now) had other ideas. I should have known better really, my last attempt at jam ended in diaster and this one was no different.

The 1.5 kgs of our precious home grown strawberries, the ones the small boy hasn’t eaten were lovingly picked, hulled and popped in the pot carefully following the recipe from my new book A Year in a Bottle (thanks Mum) and some wonderful instructions from You’ll Eat it and Like it. All was going so well until it came time to figure out when it was ready. I kept testing and looking and wondering…Then Muski woke up so I got him out of the hammock wandered back into the kitchen – not two minutes had gone by – and the jam went from not ready to burnt.

1.5 kgs of our precious strawberries…. burnt!

The Twinadoes, sensing the dark cloud that had arrived in the kitchen, came in for a taste and assured me that it was great, but I think they were just being nice. The Baldy Boy suggested we label the four jars I managed to salvage ‘Smoky Mountain Strawberry Jam’ but I didn’t appreciate his humour. I raged and clanged and bashed my way around the kitchen cleaning up the mess and lamenting the loss of our delicious strawberries. I don’t even like jam (the rest of the pickle farm residents do though)… I would have happily eaten the whole 1.5 kgs straight from the garden… what a waste.

I’m trying hard to find something good to have come from this disaster… so here are a few things I have learnt from today’s events…

– Throwing in the lemon halves as suggested by the Divine Miss C is awesome. That was the only delicious thing to come out of our pot and the girls were in heaven!
– I need a thermometer to test for temperature and therefore readiness and forgo all the guessing on the saucer stuff.
– Jam will burn and burn big time if it gets too hot, next time I need to make it boil nicely but not incinerate the crap out of it.
– It’s really really really bad when you burn sugar black in the bottom of your only decent pot. I’ve googled for ways to fix it and in the process of trying the first idea, I will report back on my success of failure on that front.

This afternoon I vowed I would never bother with jam ever again… but a few hours of pot scrubbing has made me think I might try again. Maybe I will learn my lessons from today and attempt to win the jam wars again sometime in the future…. or I might not.

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Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:

  1. says

    oh that’s such a pity!!

    Yeah, things like that can turn real quick.

    I’d give it another go though. Regardless of whether the jame worked earlier you learnt a lot from that batch so it wasn’t a complete waste. :)

  2. says


    What can I say… I grieve with you over the strawberries but with any luck the TwinDoes are not just being polite and will eat it.

    Good Luck with your next attempt the balance between set and not on jam can be tricky at times. I tend to err on the side of caution so tend to end up with pourable syrup, appropriate for icecream toppings, when I have a bad day.

    Kind Regards

  3. says

    Oh you poor thing!
    I just had a big jam success this week, even though it’s kind of cheating – I discovered my bread maker has a jam setting, so I just threw everything in and walked away and an hour later I had mulberry jam. A bread maker is definitely my recommendation :-)

  4. says

    Oh no!

    I have been pondering the idea of getting a candy thermometer lately, for jam and for caramel and fudge. This tale has convinced me to definitely get one before attempting any of those things.

    Um, thanks? lol. I’m sure the kids will eat the jam…

  5. Tracey says

    Boill onion in water in your pot and let it boil for a long time – like an hour. It does work but when I have used it it has always been straight after the diasaster.


  6. says

    Oh dear!!! I feel your pain with the waste of strawberries! I hate it when things like that happen! I was all inspired to make jam when I read Chrissy’s post as well, and I feel the same as you in regards to jam, I don’t actually like it all that much. But my husband does. I’m not sure if I will end up making jam myself, but at least I think I have learned valuable things from your jam adventure, thanks for the tips!

    Smoky Mountain does sound like a pretty good name for it though :).

  7. granma Jill says

    Oh God!!!!

    We’ve all done it more than once. You can’t leave it for a minute once you add the sugar.

    I never had any success with Strawberry till I got advice from an ACE old expert in Aireys. She just put the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in together(no water) and boiled for 15 minutes. No testing. It seems to work but I always cover it with beeswax or parafin as Strawberry and Apricot seem not acid enough to stop mould growing.

  8. Leigh Anna says

    I just read this because you had a link to it from your current Christmas printables series. You may have figured out a way to clean burnt pans by now, but if not, here is my tip: Put an inch or two of water in the bottom of the pan and mix in a handful of baking soda. Bring it to a boil (make sure it does not boil over!), then turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let it sit on the burner until cold. The burnt food should wash off much more easily after that.