Russian Kitchen: Babushka's strawberry jam

Strawberry Jam. Source: Flickr/Savvy Julie

Strawberry Jam. Source: Flickr/Savvy Julie

It’s virtually impossible to compare the delicious homemade strawberry jam to what you can buy in shops.

Chocolates and strawberries form an integral part of Valentine’s Day, which is becoming ever popular among the young in India. Strawberries are sometimes called a fruit of love, since they have a heart shape, are red in color and are believed to be an aphrodisiac.  In Rome, as early as 200 BC, a soup made of strawberries, borage and sour cream was traditionally served to newly-weds at their wedding breakfast. 

This year in Bangalore the quality of strawberries is excellent. They smell like strawberries, are perfect in shape and have a beautiful colour. It is not easy to impress me as I know what I am talking about. You would be surprised with how many strawberries we get in Russia. The summer is short but flourishing. Since most of the people have their gardens (dacha) outside the city, it is a must to grow strawberries there. There is nothing tastier than to pluck shiny red strawberry warm from the sun light and put it in your mouth. It is amazing how many different varieties of strawberries Russian horticulture scientists select every year.  My mom grows at least 10 different types of strawberries in a space of 300 square feet. The yield of strawberries is fascinating. In the peak of the season, you would harvest at least 7 kilos of strawberries every alternate day.  

The strawberry is a member of the rose family and is unique in that it is the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than the inside.  It is also a very healthy fruit, being rich in vitamin C and a good source of folic acid as well as being high in fiber. 

Why is it called strawberry? Some believe that English children in the 19th century would pick strawberries and string them on grass straws to sell as “straws of berries.” Others think the name came from the practice of placing straw around the plants to protect them from the cold weather. Most people, however, believe strawberry came from “strewn berry” since strawberries appear to be strewn about on the plants where they grow. 

Fun facts about strawberries: 

A serving of strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange.

The green leafy part at the top of a strawberry is called the “calyx.”

If you lined up all the strawberries grown each year, they would circle the Earth almost 17 times! 

We in India should learn the preservation techniques from the Russians. The season of strawberries will be over soon and they will be expensive again. Have you ever tried to make a strawberry jam? It is one of the most delicious jams and a homemade version is much better than what we buy from shops. Below is my grandma's recipe of the jam.

Babushka's Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:

Strawberry 1 kg

Sugar 1 kg 

Preparation:

  1. Wash the strawberries and discharge the berries that have dark spots or don’t look good. Cut the leaves. If your strawberry is big in size, cut it into halves or three pieces.
  2. Add the sugar and leave it overnight in the fridge. When you check it in the morning, there should be enough juice to make the jam. If you think that there is not enough liquid, please add a little bit of water.
  3. Bring the mixture to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure you collect the scum. Turn the fire off and let it rest for few hours. Repeat the step two more times.
  4. You homemade jam is ready to be bottled. You can use glass jars. Make sure that they are clean and washed with boiling water. (In order not to crack your jars with very hot water, put a table spoon in it when you are pouring water) 

Last month when I came from Russia, I brought from my grandma homemade strawberry jam for my Bengali father-in-law. He cannot praise the taste enough. Let’s see if my homemade jam from local strawberries can compete with the Russian one. 

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