Nice and Simple: Classic Strawberry Jam and Best Baked Potatoes

Daniel Hautzinger
America's Test Kitchen's Classic Strawberry Jam and Best Baked Potatoes. (Joe Keller/Carl Tremblay)
(Joe Keller/Carl Tremblay)

Sometimes simple foods are the best foods. And if you're going to whip up a staple like baked potatoes or strawberry jam, why not do it right? America's Test Kitchen has done all the work of honing and refining the recipe already, so you don't have to: just follow the directions and enjoy.

Classic Strawberry Jam

Makes 4 cups

Be sure to choose small, fragrant berries that are just ripe, and discard any that are bruised or mushy. Do not try to make a double batch of this jam in a large pot; rather, make two single batches in separate pots. Shred the apple on the large holes of a box grater.

America's Test Kitchen's Classic Strawberry Jam. (Joe Keller)(Joe Keller) 3 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut into ½-inch pieces (10 cups)
3 cups (21 ounces) sugar
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and shredded (1¼ cups)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Place 2 small plates in freezer to chill. Using potato masher, crush strawberries in Dutch oven until fruit is mostly broken down. Stir in sugar, apple, and lemon juice.

2. Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring to ensure sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil mixture, stirring and adjusting heat as needed, until thickened and registering 217 to 220 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes. (Jam is very frothy in beginning and requires near-constant stirring to prevent it from boiling over; froth will subside as jam boils.) Remove pot from heat.

3. To test consistency, place 1 teaspoon jam on chilled plate and freeze for 2 minutes. Drag your finger through jam on plate; jam has correct consistency when your finger leaves distinct trail. If jam is runny, return pot to heat and simmer for 1 to 3 minutes longer before retesting. Skim any foam from surface of jam using spoon.

4. Let jam cool completely, about 2 hours. Transfer jam to airtight container and refrigerate until set, 12 to 24 hours. (Jam can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.) 

Best Baked Potatoes

Serves 4

Open up the potatoes immediately after removal from the oven in step 3 so steam can escape. Top them as desired.

America's Test Kitchen's Best Baked Potatoes. (Carl Tremblay)(Carl Tremblay) Salt and pepper
4 (7- to 9-ounce) russet potatoes, unpeeled, each lightly pricked with fork in 6 places
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in ½ cup water in large bowl. Place potatoes in bowl and toss so exteriors of potatoes are evenly moistened. Transfer potatoes to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and bake until center of largest potato registers 205 degrees, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Remove potatoes from oven and brush tops and sides with oil. Return potatoes to oven and continue to bake for 10 minutes.

3. Remove potatoes from oven and, using paring knife, make 2 slits, forming X in each potato. Using clean dish towel, hold ends and squeeze slightly to push flesh up and out. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.