RECIPE: Vanilla Strawberry Jam
On a rainy and humid afternoon in May, my friend and I drove to a local farm. We were armed with umbrellas and large cardboard boxes with one mission in mind: to pick strawberries. We trudged through long rows of mud in–between massive mounds of bright green leaves that were shielding the most amazing little red berries we have ever tasted. One bite from a vine-ripe strawberry and you will never buy a pint that has been shipped from the other side of the country ever again.
With this being said, you can imagine why one might pick to their hearts’ content, only to discover they have way more strawberries then one could eat. If you ever find yourself in this predicament my suggestion would be to set up the jars, boil some water and make some of this amazing Vanilla Strawberry Jam.
With this strawberry jam occupying your cabinet or refrigerator, you can easily revisit that very first moment you took that bite of a perfectly ripe strawberry washed clean by the warm rain.
Makes about 8 half pint jars
Vanilla Strawberry Jam
5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 pounds)
1 whole vanilla beans, split and scraped
juice from two lemon
4 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons classic powdered pectin
In a very large nonreactive pot, combine the crushed strawberries the whole vanilla bean (the seeds and pods that have been scraped clean), lemon juice and sugar. Heat the mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat. Watch the mixture carefully and stir occasionally because this mixture will foam a lot. If it starts to foam to close to the top of your pot reduce the heat until it settles. Allow the mixture to boil on high for 10-15 minutes or until it becomes a thicker consistency.
Remove the vanilla bean pod from the mixture. At this point you could either leave the fruit a little chunky or puree the fruit with an immersion blender to make it smoother. Gradually stir in the pectin while continuing to boil. Continue to boil the mixture until it reaches 220° F/103°C. Skim off any foam developing on the top of the mixture if necessary.
Once the jam has set, ladle it into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean and place the lids on the jars. Apply the rings until they fit fingertip tight. Process your jars in the boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Remove the jars to cool and check the seals. Sometimes it will take a while for the jam to set. It is ideal to let it sit for at least two weeks before using. You can store the sealed jam in a cool dark place for about 1 year, but once the jar is opened keep the jam refrigerated.
Do you have a favorite recipe to make with fresh strawberries that you would like to share?
Photo credit: Sandra Kehoe
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