When strawberries are in season and plentiful at the farmers market, one of my favorite (and easiest) projects is to make strawberry jam. Not to be confused with preserves – which involves a specific preserving process – jam can just be jarred and will keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. I prefer to make my own jams because I find most store-bought versions to be too thick and too sweet, but one brand I do like is Bonne Maman, which is imported from France. I actually modeled my homemade jam after their preserves, which have the consistency and level of sweetness that I am looking for, and as a result my recipe uses 1/3 less sugar than most other recipes.
This recipe is relatively simple, but some attention is required during the active cooking process. The key to a successful jam is making sure you stir often so the sugars don’t burn on the bottom, and making sure not to overcook it. You want the jam to flow nicely when you spread it on bread, but not to be runny where it looks like a sauce. Testing the cooked jam on a cold plate will tell you what the consistency will be like once the jam cools.
This strawberry jam only uses five ingredients and can be made in less than 15 minutes, so you can make it whenever you run out. It also has lovely vanilla notes from the added vanilla seeds. Enjoy your jam session!
Refrigerator Strawberry Vanilla Jam
Yield: One 8-ounce jar
1 lb of fresh strawberries (washed, hulled, and sliced 1/4 thick) about 4 cups sliced.
2/3 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 two-inch piece of vanilla bean
1/8 teaspoon of Fleur de Sel or flaky sea salt
1. Place a small plate in the freezer. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, down the middle. Scrape the seeds out using a small paring knife.
2. In a 12-inch copper or stainless steel pan, add the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and the seeds of the vanilla bean. Stir to combine.
3. Set on a burner at high heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring often. After 5 minutes, your mixture should have this consistency.
4. After about 9 minutes, remove the plate out of the freezer. At the 10 minute mark, test the jam’s consistency by placing a 1/2 teaspoon on the plate. It should be loose and not run down the plate. If it runs down the plate, cook for a couple more minutes, but don’t over cook. A good jam should not be too thick when refrigerated.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the Fleur de Sel.
6. Spoon into a clean 8-ounce mason jar. Cool for 10 minutes. Add the lid and place in the refrigerator to chill. The jam keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
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