elote (mexican street corn) fritters with lime crema huckleberry cheesecake ice cream coconut shrimp spruce tip syrup and the muir cocktail


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2017 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent


a tale of two seasons

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

so colorado



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
[print recipe]
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

peach jam strawberry chiffon buttercream cake strawberry daifuku mochi strawberry syrup

28 nibbles at “a tale of two seasons”

  1. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says:

    I’ve never actually tried canning jam. Usually I make a huge batch and give most away, but keep a few jars for my own enjoyment. This Strawberry Vanilla variety looks taste. T. I recently made a batch of blood orange marmalade :)

  2. Stephen Andrew says:

    This sounds and looks sooo delicious. Jam has become very important to me since going vegan, I will definitely be making this. No matter how many times we read it we all still make the double-the-canning-recipe mistake. And the best part of the post is that great news from the doctors!

  3. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    Great jam, great news. And soon it may be summer!

  4. Pam says:

    I love fresh strawberry jam! I’ve only made freezer jam, and while it’s delicious, real jam is so much tastier. I really love that you used real vanilla in this recipe.

  5. angela@spinachtiger says:

    While I don’t can, I do freezer jam and I love your recipe. No strawberries here yet, but I’ll bookmark.

  6. spicytofu says:

    Oh, thank you for this recipe! I have always wanted to make strawberry jam!!!

  7. Dani H says:

    i LOVE the fact that this is a recipe that doesn’t have to actually be canned! there’s no way it would last a year for me and those i would give it to. can’t wait to start getting good strawberries! i wonder how this would work with raspberries or blackberries?

  8. laning says:

    Good news and good post as usual :)

  9. Kristin says:

    Clear scans…whoo hoo! Great news. And you had me at “You don’t HAVE to can the jam”.

  10. Carla says:

    I made this last year and it was a huge hit with my jam loving dad. My mother caught him eating it out of the jar in front of the fridge!! It really is that good. I used it for a crepe filling. Notice I said used since our supply is long gone. Have to make more when I can get my hands on tasty berries..

  11. Links: Biscuits, Jammy Sweet Rolls, and Homemade Sodas + Winners - Food in Jars | Food in Jars says:

    […] Two variations on my strawberry vanilla jam. […]

  12. Kassidy says:

    Yesterday Spouts had a great sale and strawberries so I bought a whole bunch. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but now I do!

  13. jacquie says:

    your jam looks lovely. have you tried the inversion method for sealing the jars? that is what i typically do and it works great – jars seal (except for the occassionaly odd one that comes up w/ most methods) and without the hot water processing. while i hadn’t thought of it this way before but I guess in a sense it would even be more economical and energy efficient also.

  14. Andrea says:

    Mmmmm Hellimae’s….so delish! This is hands down the best strawberry jam recipe. I made loads of it last summer and ran out quickly as everyone who tried it loved it! Marisa’s rhubarb earl grey is equally fabulous! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Peggy says:

    I love the vanilla strawberry combo! Will definitely be trying this jam out this summer =)

  16. April says:

    I’ve made this recipe several times and have also adapted it to blueberries. Hard to say which berry is tastier! My sons had decided they didn’t like jam until I made this one. Now, it’s in their yogurt, it’s in our smoothies and of course, on all fashion of bread. Thanks for spreading the word!

  17. jenyu says:

    Brandon – canning is just a longer-term version of the jam ;) Wow, I don’t ever get enough blood oranges around here to justify making marmalade!

    Stephen – ha ha, I hope to not make that mistake again. That was a lot of peach “syrup”! :)

    Pam – yes, I think the real vanilla makes a HUGE difference.

    spicytofu – it’s pretty straightforward to make :)

    Dani – I haven’t tried it with other berries, but Marisa’s book has so many terrific jam recipes, you should check it out.

    Kristin – ;)

    Carla – ha ha!! so cute.

    Kassidy – oooh, lucky you!

    Jacquie – No, I haven’t. I don’t think I should since at my elevation we never reach a high enough temperature as it is.

    Andrea – thanks for the rec on the rhubarb earl grey. That sounds fantastic!

    April – oh, good to know!

  18. Katie says:

    We made this yesterday and didn’t have enough to fill our last jar, so we put that one in the fridge for breakfast this morning. Wow! This is great jam! We did notice that the recipe called for two packs of liquid pectin, although the instructions that came with the pectin said to use one pack with the amount of fruit used. We followed the recipe, using two, and found that the jam is thicker than previous jams we have made. I wondered if there was a particular reason that two packets were used in this recipe or if it could be made with one. Thank you!

  19. jenyu says:

    Katie – yeah, I think if you want it less thick, then use one packet. This is the recipe as Marisa gives it in her book.

  20. Linda says:

    Hi. I made this jam and it looks beautiful. However, this was my first time using the liquid pectin and the jam looks runny. It sealed properly and looks pretty but it never really “set”. Is this normal? Also, the extra jam I put in the fridge has a little chemical aftertaste.

  21. jenyu says:

    Linda – my first batch of peach jam didn’t set because I doubled the recipe, which I learned was a bad idea. It’s possible that yours didn’t set because you didn’t let it boil long enough? I don’t know because I’m not sure what you did exactly. But even if it doesn’t set, it’s still fantastic on pancakes or in crepes, so don’t throw it out! However, I am concerned about the chemical aftertaste. I’m not sure what that could be from. What sort of pot did you cook the jam in (i.e. what is the material)? Also, did you use conventional or organic berries? I guess I would look closely at the ingredients you used and if they were sourced from anyplace suspect?

  22. Jamming it Up - Add Some Character says:

    […] recipe we have attempted.  I don’t know if we even really want to try another.  We found it here, a blog that we both adore and have found countless delicious recipes from.  Plus the posts fun to […]

  23. ScrimplyThrifty says:

    For the person who had the chemical taste, it might have been the lemons if they weren’t organic. I have noticed that when I used them in water or tea and it sat for a while.

    I would like to know what size of lemons you use? I used two of the, I guess you would call them, medium ones. One was a little bigger than the other. I think it changed the flavor quite a bit from the flavor of the macerated strawberries and vanilla. Do you have to use two lemons? Could you get away with one? I almost cut it back but figured for the first time I should just follow the recipe. We all love it anyway. My kids say a bite of it makes you happy and it’s “better than store bought candy”. lol. I can sympathize with the above poster’s dad who was eating it from the jar in front of the fridge. I’m guilty…I just make sure I use a clean spoon if I need a second bite. ;)

  24. jenyu says:

    ScrimplyThrifty – I use medium-sized lemons, but my juicer is quite efficient.

  25. Exercise and Nutrition (kind of) | The Determined Housewife says:

    […] also painstakingly been making Strawberry Vanilla Jam for my wedding favours this week. I say painstakingly because I have to do it in 4 batches, and […]

  26. Strawberry and vanilla bean jam - Marie's Cuisine says:

    […] Recipe by use real butter […]

  27. Camille says:

    We went strawberry picking yesterday and bought 10 pounds of berries, then we got home and remembered we’re going on vacation tomorrow. I remembered this recipe and went back to find it, and I am SO glad I did. I’ve been canning all afternoon, but it’s been worth it. I’ve made three batches so far, but I’m seriously considering going strawberry picking when we get back from our trip just to make more of this.

  28. Tess says:

    Tried this a few days ago but the two packets of liquid pectin was waaaay too much and yielded jam that was nowhere near spreadable. Tried it again yesterday with 3/4 packet and it worked like a charm. The vanilla adds a yummy dimension to it; thanks for sharing the recipe!

leave a reply