Merry Berries - Strawberry Kumquat Jam with cloves

As far as I can remember, I've never picked strawberries in June. The berry picking usually starts and finishes well within the month of May. In fact, I remember picking Asparagus and Strawberries in the  same session last year, and those berries were the stragglers towards the last of the season, tiny, & tart. I'm chalking it to global climate change!

Another lesson learned from last year - Never go fruit picking with kids if you're aiming to create something new. Yes, its fun, the kids love it and all the memory making aspects of childhood are spot on, but save that for an informal session when you're past the focused search for perfectly ripe, sun kissed strawberries.

And the occasional super cute mutant!

or should that be a collection of them? (Disclaimer: I did specifically look for the mutated ones after I picked the first one.)

AS much as I prized my 'alone' time berry picking, It was for solely meant for the kids. They become little predators when faced with a box of Driscolls, and at the end of 10 minutes, the scene around the sink resembles a 'green massacre'.. drops of water on the kitchen floor that's been steadily dripping off their little elbows, green, leafy 'caps' from the berries strewn all around as if a bunch of elves decided to shed their garments, and of course the tops of the berries (the white part  that they've discarded).

In the end though, Murphy's law prevailed. They barely ate a few (may have been too small or not firm enough for their taste), so the next step was to rinse them thoroughly in lukewarm water with vinegar added to it. -- This is a great trick for extending the shelf life of the berries since it prevents any fungus/mold from growing on them.

In the meantime, I still had a batch of Kumquats left over from my Kumquat & Crystallized Ginger Focaccia -  2 blog posts ago and I'd been deliberately holding on to these just to test the effectiveness of the Green Saver containers from OXO . 

It was like a flashback to those long term storage experiments done on refrigerated biological samples. 3 weeks and the kumquats were as fresh as ever. The decision was instantaneous, Strawberry Jam with the kumquats thrown in! Turns out, the kumquats played a valuable role. They not only add flavor, but the pectin from the fruit and especially the seeds helps to set the jam. The natural pectin content in the ripe strawberries is on the low side. The cloves were a complete after thought. I held the spice over the bubbling mix and it smelled good, so tipped the cloves right into the mix.
As for the recipe, I originally intended to make Merrill Stubb's recipe from +Food52 , but the final recipe deviates quite a bit from the original in terms of ingredients and quantity, but since Merrill's recipe was the inspiration, credit should be attributed to the source.

Strawberry Kumquat Jam with cloves

You need: (makes ~ 4 pints)

8 cups quartered/diced strawberries (Press down to pack the berries)
2 cups  deseeded & diced kumquats (reserve the pips)
4 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon (save the seeds)
20 - 30 cloves
A pinch of salt

Tie the citrus seeds from the kumquats and lemon in a piece of cheesecloth. This is the source of extra pectin that helps to set the jam to a firm consistency. If you like you could also add the cloves  into the cheesecloth if prefer your jam mildly spiced, I opted to add the spice directly into the jam to get a stronger flavor.

Combine the strawberries, kumquats,  lemon juice,citrus seeds, sugar, and salt in a heavy pan and bring to a boil. 

If adding the cloves directly into the jam, do so at this point. Also place a steel metal plate into the freezer. You'll need it to test if the jam is at its 'setting' point.

Lower the heat and cook down for about 30 - 45 minutes. At this point, test the jam by adding a smal blob of jam onto the frozen plate. Place the plate back into the freezer for about a minute and then test by pushing back the cool blob of jam with your finger tip. If it makes wavy 'folds', its ready. Switch off the heat.

While the jam is cooking down sterilize your canning jars, the lids and the rings (and for good measure, your canning equipment like tongs, lifter and funnel as well) and dry them thoroughly. 

Carefully ladle the hot jam into the jars. Wipe the rims clean with a moist paper towel and place the lids over. Screw on the rings until just finger tightened. 

Submerge the filled jars in a water bath and can as per the manufacturers instructions (I let the cans boil away for 20 minutes, just to make sure that all the air inside the jars had an opportunity to escape). Remove the jars, wipe down and tighten the rings. Ensure that the pop up seal is pressed down to ensure a good seal. (If not, refrigerate the jar and use up within two weeks).spoon out any remaining jam from the pan and store in a small container for immediate use.

Serve with toast, pancakes or dosais for a memorable breakfast!

 Bon Appetit!


  1. Hiya! Dropping by at the recommendation of one of your old iitb professors who also happens to be my dad! Nice blog, lovely photos! Cheers Bach

  2. I love those weck jars niv. And how do you have the time to make halloumi bajji and jam? Amazing woman you are!


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