The berries have been picked, sliced, sugared, and cooked. Each jar has announced with a satisfying little pop! of the lid that it is sealed and ready to be stored until it is opened, its contents slathered onto someone’s breakfast. Maybe mine, maybe yours.
The final step in my eight-flavor experiment in strawberry jam (who knew there was so much variety?) was definitely the most relaxing: the tasting! Sampling each variety was hugely important, you see. I mean, how else could I tell you which ones worked and which ones didn’t? Trust me, there was no other reason to open so many jars of jam at one time.
I made a date of it. Made some biscuits, sat on the balcony, even grabbed a notepad to record my initial reactions to each jar. It was fancy. I may or may not have pretended I was a snooty judge on a Food Network show.
There weren’t any losers, but I definitely had some favorites. Here’s how the cookie crumbled:
Strawberry Preserves, light on the sugar
Winner, All-Around Favorite!
Thinner in consistency than the others, the slices of berries hold their shape and swim in a smooth red syrup. This is not the best choice for a PB&J, but this week, I’ve mixed it into Greek-style yogurt and drizzled it over vanilla ice cream, and the next time I make waffles, it’s going right on top. Totally awesome.
Strawberry Preserves, regular sugar
I couldn’t discern much difference between this and the version with less sugar, so I might as well just make the one with less sugar.
Strawberry Jam, standard recipe
Classic. Awesome. This has a nice jam consistency complete with little chunks of berries, which I love.
Strawberry Balsamic Jam
Since I like Balsamic Strawberries so much, I figured I’d try the flavor combination in a jam. While it doesn’t taste like I expected it to, it does add some depth and complexity to the jam. It’s a keeper.
Strawberry Vanilla Jam
Winner, Most Surprisingly Awesome!
This seriously tastes like strawberry ice cream. Even though there is no increase in sugar, the vanilla seems to emphasize the lighter, sweeter side of the strawberries. It’s delightful, and very dessert-y.
Strawberry Vanilla Balsamic Jam
I know. Fancy business. This is actually made with a vanilla-infused balsamic vinegar, and produces a lovely, darker flavor, though with a slightly brighter quality than the Strawberry Balsamic.
Strawberry Jam, honey instead of sugar
I had really high hopes for this one. White sugar doesn’t exactly grow in North Carolina, but there are many local apiaries. I may try this one again with raw honey (I didn’t have any available on jam day) but this particular batch is not my favorite. The flavor of the honey seems to overpower the berries and leaves just a hint of bitterness in your mouth. Maybe it will grow on me? It needs some work.
Overall, I’m happy with the results. I’m excited that I have jam to share with friends. And my family.
I’m really happy you’re here reading this blog and giving feedback, so I’ll be randomly selecting three (3) of you to win a jar of the strawberry jam that most appeals to you. Sound good? I hope so!
How to Win Some Jam CLOSED
1. Leave a comment on this post answering this question: Which recipes or types of food would you like to see on 30 Pounds of Apples?
2. Like-a-dee-like 30 Pounds of Apples on Facebook.
3. Do both, and enter twice!
Enter before midnight on Friday, May 20, or you’ll turn into a pumpkin and you’ll have no jam. Winners will be announced on Saturday, May 21.
And for those of you who wanna make some jam of your own, the recipes and variations are below. Make some. Then find a biscuit!
Seven-Minute Strawberry Preserves
Adapted from Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking
Makes about 2 pints
4 c sliced or halved strawberries (no soft spots)
2 c + 1/3 c white sugar
3 T lemon juice
Wash, hull and slice berries to the shape you want. Pour into a bowl. Sprinkle 1/3 c sugar over berries and add lemon juice. Stir. Let mixture stand in refrigerator overnight. When you are ready to make the preserves, prepare a 3-4 quart saucepan on the stove. Add 2 c sugar and stir gently. Stop stirring and heat until boiling. Boil for seven minutes. Shake pan or stir occasionally while cooking. Prepare sterilized jars and lids on a towel near the stove. Once cooking is complete, remove from heat and stir until foam relaxes and you can see the dark jam below. Pour into hot sterilized jars and lid immediately. Set aside. Once lids have popped inward, they are sealed. Let jars cool completely and then store in a cool, dry place.
From my Grandma Emma
Makes a little more than 2 pints
4 c sliced strawberries
4 c white sugar
1/4 c lemon juice
Sterilize jars and lids. I like to keep in the dishwasher on the drying cycle to keep them warm while making the jam. Around 3 minutes from the end time, pull them out and place them on a towel on the counter near the stove with your lids ready.
Wash and slice strawberries and dump them into a large sauce pan (at least a 4 quart pan). Mash berries slightly with a potato masher. Add sugar & lemon juice. Turn on stove to medium-high and stir constantly. Once jam comes to a rolling boil, start timer for 7-8 minutes, and continue to stir constantly.
Remove from heat and continue stirring until foam collapses and has mostly dissipated. Stir quickly so the jam stays really hot. Pour into jars, leave 1/4-1/2 inches of room at the top of the jar. If you have a canning funnel, use it to reduce splatter. If you don’t have one, don’t worry about it, just use caution when pouring, it’s HOT. As soon as jam is poured, place fresh flat lid on jar and add metal ring to tighten. Set aside and let rest. Seals will “pop” inward within 20-30 minutes.
Let jars sit overnight, then label and store!
Variations (based on original Strawberry Jam recipe)
For Strawberry Balsamic Jam, reduce lemon juice to 1 T and add 3 T balsamic vinegar.
For Strawberry Vanilla Jam, reduce lemon juice to 2 T and 2 T vanilla. Boil for one additional minute.
For Strawberry Vanilla Balsamic Jam, reduce lemon juice to 1 T and add 3 T of vanilla balsamic vinegar.
For Strawberry Jam with Honey, substitute honey for white sugar (and let me know it turns out!)