If you have 20 minutes, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pint of strawberries

You can make yourself a homemade jam.

From Monday's demo:

The idea of making jam at home can be a little daunting. It conjures images of sterilizing Ball jars and spending full days in the kitchen toiling over vats of steaming water. But making a quick jam from fresh strawberries can be as simple as combining three ingredients—strawberries, lemon juice, sugar— and letting them cook for about a half an hour.

Using sugar is a must for traditional jam. Other sweeteners cannot be substituted because cane sugar is responsible for the body, texture and thickness of the jam.

Getting the sugar to a high enough temperature is the key to great texture. The strawberry mixture must reach 220 degrees to firm up completely. A candy thermometer is great for gauging temperature, of course, but careful timing as described in the recipe below will work as well.

1/2 large lemon, zested and juiced
* 1 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/2 cup sugar

*Ingredients available at your neighborhood Greenmarket

1. Hull strawberries. Mash the berries lightly in a bowl until they are slightly broken apart and start to release their juices.
2. Combine mashed berries, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a large saucepan and heat over low heat.
3. Once the berries have released enough juice that they are floating in liquid, increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
4. Boil strawberry mixture for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Either measure temperature with a candy thermometer or test the stiffness of the jam on a cold plate. If the jam hardens to a jell on the plate, it is ready. Alternately, remove the jam from heat once it has reached 220 degrees.

This quick jam can be processed and canned with a pressure cooker, or simply cooled in jars and refrigerated. The jam will last for about a week in the refrigerator.

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