Little red jewels everywhere, or at least there are in my garden at the moment. What are they? Wild strawberries. An early summer treat, wild strawberries are much smaller than commercially grown strawberries, but they’re also far sweeter & more delicate, each one packs the essence of a strawberry into a tiny little vessel.
In abundance for harvesting usually anytime from April through to June (or even later, they are everbearing, meaning that they fruit whenever the weather is pleasant), they’ll grow pretty much anywhere… woodland, hedgerows, back gardens, anywhere with partial shade is ideal, they spread quickly too which is why some people actually consider them a weed (how wrong they are!). To find them, you’ll need to look hard enough, wild strawberries grow low to the ground & the berries are usually hidden under their leaves.
Much like the strawberries we’re all used to, the plant foliage is very similar. Look for glossy three lobed leaves with serrated edges, white, five petaled flowers with a golden centre on a hairy, green to red stem.
The beautiful heart-shaped berries are covered with tiny seeds on the outside of the fruit. They usually ripen in late spring or early summer so keep your eye to the ground when the weather is nice.
Obviously, harvesting enough wild strawberries to do much with in the kitchen is a labour of love (it will take you a while!) so other than use the odd handful to decorate my bakes I’m obviously going to preserve the rest so that I can enjoy my efforts for far longer!
Whilst wild strawberries are lovely to top pancakes or cereal, tossed through a fruit salad, or to decorate summery cakes, for me there’s no better use for them than in a good jar of jam. Nothing but the heavenly, sweetly perfumed flavour of wild strawberry shining through in a jar.
This gloriously ruby jam is so delicate & sweet, perfect on freshly baked scones during the summer. Whilst it does take a lot of berries to make a jar full of jam, that just makes it all the more precious & I find myself savouring these jars far more any others as I attempt to prolong their use. Yes, you could just make a regular strawberry jam in far less time & with far less effort but nothing will ever come close to the essence of wild strawberries.
WILD STRAWBERRY JAM
- 500g wild strawberries
- 400g jam sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Before beginning, place a small saucer into the freezer to chill
- Place the strawberries, sugar & lemon juice into a maslin pan or large heavy bottomed saucepan
- Gently heat the fruit & sugar over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved & no grains remain
- Increase the heat to a medium-high heat until the mixture starts to bubble
- Continue to bubble but not boil the mixture for 10 minutes (the tiny pips of the wild strawberries catch very easily so be sure not to boil & stir quite frequently to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan)
- Test to see if setting point has been reached by placing a small drop of the jam onto the chilled saucer
- Push your finger through the jam & if the surface wrinkles, it’s done. If not continue cooking for a further 2-3 minutes & test again
- Pot up into clean, sterilised jars & label
Check out my 12 step jam making guide for a little help with all things jam!