Recipe: strawberry vanilla jam
Some people can become really bent out of shape when winter gets all up in their spring. I’m not one of those people. I’m used to straddling two seasons at any given time because I live at the boundary of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. In the mountains, we are usually dawdling behind the flats come springtime with our snows and cold temperatures in contrast to their colorful spring blooms and flowering trees. Then we plunge headfirst into autumn and first snowstorms as their mosquito-bitten legs still strut around in shorts, flip flops, and summer. The great thing is to be able to leave one season and enter another in the span of 30 minutes and the canyon that separates the mountains from the flats.
the morning the storm cleared out
A recent storm plastered the whole area with snow. Winter here. Winter there. I haven’t skied it yet as there has been a lot going on lately like routine mammograms and ultrasounds (which came back clear – booyah!), work, friends visiting from out of town, and heaps of paperwork. It’s all good. All good.
working with helliemae’s this week
met up with dear aran for a nice walk and talk around chautauqua park in boulder
It was only two weeks ago that I was complaining about those little liar strawberries in the store – organic, dark red that turned out to be flavorless with the texture of styrofoam. I should have known better, but I am an ever hopeful individual. I bought another quart this week and they were juicy, sweet, perfumey. Local strawberries still have a few months to go in Colorado, but I’m already looking forward to making more jam come June. Strawberries are one of my favorite things to come with the warmer months. Last year I canned several batches of this strawberry vanilla jam to give as gifts since Jeremy and I rarely consume jam. If only I had known.
sugar, vanilla beans, strawberries, lemons, pectin
hull and cut the strawberries
Turns out that Jeremy is a fiend for this jam. This one in particular. I would sometimes have one or two jars that didn’t seal properly during the canning process, so they would go into the refrigerator to serve at breakfast when we had house guests. And I noticed that the peach jams remained untouched (remember, the boy doesn’t eat stone fruits) and the strawberry vanilla jams would empty in no time.
split and gut the vanilla bean
macerate the strawberries in vanilla bean and sugar
stir it all together and let refrigerate overnight
I’ll admit it. There is something magical about the vanilla-infused strawberry flavor. In cartoonland, you would take a taste of this jam and your head would turn into a giant, red strawberry. It’s THAT amazing. Definitely use vanilla beans and ripe, sweet strawberries. I only buy organic berries because I don’t like the idea of feeding myself or loved ones pesticide-laden conventionally grown strawberries. And the lemons. I use organic citrus particularly when the zest or peel is used in a recipe. You may be tempted to skip the maceration step. Don’t skip the maceration step. Marisa (who writes one of my favorite blogs) says it makes for a more luscious jam and we could ALL use more lusciousness in our lives!
after maceration (look at that ruby red juice!)
place the berries, their juices, lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining sugar in a pot
bring it all to a frothy boil
In case you missed my pro tip when I made my very first jam last summer, DO NOT double the recipe. It won’t set because of the reduced surface area to volume ratio. Cook up the strawberries with the rest of the sugar and the lemon zest and juice until it reduces to a syrupy consistency. That takes about 20 minutes. Take the vanilla bean pods out and blender some of the strawberries. I like my jams to be more chunky than not, so I don’t blender much at all. Also, my immersion blender is hyper-enthusiastic – a few spins and the whole thing is puréed.
remove the vanilla pods
pulsing the immersion blender to purée a little bit of the fruit
add pectin and bring back to boil
when the jam is ready, can it
You don’t HAVE to can the jam, you can store it in the refrigerator for several months. But I caught the canning bug last year, and while it can be hot, messy work in the heat of summer, it is far and away a most rewarding treasure in dead of winter. I canned a few jars for us and several jars for gifts. Summer in a jar. Summer as a gift. I especially love a little bit of summer while I’m enjoying my winter. And this summer, I’ll be sure to can a few extra jars for Jeremy’s consumption. So get ready to enjoy those strawberries (or start enjoying them now if you have them, you lucky dogs) and maybe make a batch of this wonderfully floral and fruity jam.
great with scones
a gem of a jam
Strawberry Vanilla Jam
from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan
8 cups (2 dry qts or 1.4 kg) ripe strawberries, hulled and chopped
5 cups (1 kg) granulated sugar, divided into 1 cup and 4 cups
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
2 lemons, zest and juice of
6 oz. (170 ml) liquid pectic (two packets)
Notes: I have made this recipe using both Weck and Ball jars. The Weck site has some nice canning instructions if you are using their jars, which differ slightly from the standard instructions for canning with Ball-style jars. Marisa uses pint jars in her book recipe, but I used 8-ounce jars and 5-ounce jars. The yield is estimated at 4 1-pint jars, but it can fluctuate by a few ounces depending on the fruit (how much water or sugar content which can vary from season to season).
Macerate the strawberries the day before: Place the strawberries, one cup of sugar, and the split vanilla beans (both seeds and pods) in a nonreactive bowl. Mix together and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. The sugar will draw liquid from the berries. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight to macerate. Marisa says even if you can’t macerate the berries overnight, even an hour will benefit the resulting jam. So at the very least, do this for an hour (but overnight is better).
Canning prep: Ready the boiling water bath and the clean (washed with soap and water) jars you plan to use for canning. Check your jars and lids for nicks or cracks – don’t use them if they have any because it could jeopardize creating a good seal. If using standard Ball or similar style jars, it helps to put them in the pot you plan to use for canning and fill them (and the pot) with water, then bring to a boil. Keep the jars at a simmer (180°F) until they are ready to use. Place the lids in a small saucepan with enough water to cover them and set to a simmer over low heat (high heat can compromise the gummy seal material). If using Weck jars, you only need to sterilize your jars and glass lids if they will be processed for less than 10 minutes. Place the rubber rings in a small saucepan of water and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes then leave them in the hot water until you are ready to use them.
Make the strawberry vanilla jam: When the macerated strawberries are ready, pour the contents of the bowl into a large, nonreactive pot along with the remaining 4 cups of sugar, the lemon zest, and the lemon juice. Bring it all to a boil over high heat. It will foam a lot, don’t fret. Just keep stirring periodically and continue to cook on high heat for 15 to 20 minutes until it becomes thick and syrupy. Remove the vanilla bean pods from the strawberries. Use an immersion blender to purée some of the fruit or put a third of the mixture into a food processor or blender (be careful when blendering steaming hot things in a blender and avoid exploding hot stuff) to purée and return to the pot. Add the pectin to the strawberries and return to a rolling boil until the jam reaches a temperature of 220°F/105°C (203°F/95°C at 8500 ft.). Let the jam boil at that temperature for 2 minutes. Remove the jam from heat and start ladling jam into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
Can the jam: Use a cloth to wipe the rims clean and apply the lids and rings of the Ball-style jars to fingertip tight (just tightened with fingertips – not super tight). If using Weck jars, place the rubber rings on the glass lids and set them on the jars. Secure the lids with two canning clamps for each jar – 180° from each other (across from each other). Set the jars in your canning bath (either on a jar rack or a makeshift cooling rack – just be sure they are not set directly on the bottom of the pot) and check that there is at least 1-2 inches of water above the lids of the jars – if not, add more water. Once the pot has returned to a boil, process for 10 minutes if you are at an altitude of sea-level to 1,000 feet above sea level (asl). For 1,001 to 3,000 feet asl, add another 5 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. For 3,001 to 6,000 feet asl, add 10 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. For 6,001 to 8,000 feet asl, add another 15 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. And finally, for 8,001 to 10,000 feet asl (that’s me!) add an additional 20 minutes to the 10 minute processing time for a total of 30 minutes.
When the jams are done processing, remove them from the canning bath and place them on a towel-lined countertop to let them cool. Don’t mess with them! For the metal lids, you may hear the “ping” of the seals forming as the center of the lid gets sucked down. There will be no pinging of the Weck lids, but you may notice the tongue of the rubber band pointing down (this is good). Let the jars cool for 24 hours. Remove the bands or clamps and lift the jar an inch or so off your work surface (carefully – in case the seal is bad and breaks) by the lid. If the seal is good, it should hold. Store the jars in a cool, dark location for up to a year (take the clamps and rings off). Also, any jar with a bad seal can be stored in the refrigerator.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to can the jam, you can store it in the refrigerator (I think for up to a year). Makes 4 1-pint (500 ml) jars or 8 8-ounce (250 ml) jars.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
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