Microwave ovens are a glorious tool, a genuine benefit of cooking in modern times. With one and the right ingredients, you can produce spirited flavors in miraculously little time. In particular, microwaving is the way to go for small batches of fruit jams. The method mysteriously intensifies the fruit’s natural sweetness so you need add only a small amount of sugar for a perfect balance between sweet and tart. In fewer than 45 minutes, fragrant, festive-red strawberries can be transformed into a lush, spreadable treasure for the table that need not be reserved for morning toast (though that’s one of the best uses). Other serving possibilities abound. You can use it for dessert to accompany a dish of yogurt with perhaps some fresh berries, or press it into bits of Newton Cookie Dough before baking for quick and easy “filled” cookies, and so on.
In addition to strawberries, making jam with a microwave works for other warm season fruits from cherries through berries and on to plums, figs, and, surprise, a savory tomato jam (recipe coming soon!). The cooking times will vary, of course, so intermittant stirring is important.
There are two additional benefits to employing a microwave for making jam: It can efficiently handle small batches that are a breeze to prep and cook in a thrice. And, maybe best of all, the cleanup is also a breeze because glass cookware comes clean more readily than pots and pans.
3 pints strawberries (about 2 3/4 pounds), rinsed, hulled, and halved or quartered, depending on the size, to make large chunks
1/3 cup sugar, or more to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart microwave bowl and stir to mix. Microwave uncovered until lightly boiling, about 10 minutes. Stir well and continue to microwave uncovered for 10 minutes more, until foaming up.
- Scrape down the sides, stir well, and taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. Continue microwaving uncovered until the mixture is quite thick but still a runny, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the juiciness of the fruit.
- Remove and let cool completely, then use at room temperature or chilled. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.