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This is a recipe for an easy, small batch, fresh strawberry jam. The balsamic gives it a little extra depth of flavor – in other words – easy and delicious
Prepare the strawberries by washing them and removing the green stems. Cut them into slices, large chunks, or by processing in a small food processor using on/off pulses (my method).
Place the strawberries into a small non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat; add the salt and sugar - if your strawberries are sweet, start with 1 1/4 cup sugar, add more if needed. Cook, stirring constantly until it comes to a lively boil and the strawberries begin to release their juices. Once at a lively simmer, reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes syrupy and thickens. You can allow it to simmer until it is to your desired thickness. Once thickened, remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and balsamic. Stir well. Allow to cool. You can serve immediately but is best left overnight to allow the flavors to fully blend. May be kept covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Have you ever wanted to make fresh strawberry jam? I know I do. Especially when you see those flats of fresh strawberries at the farmer’s market or roadside stands. I mean, what else are you going to do with a flat of strawberries?
But it also seemed so work intensive. Pectin. Canning. And then there’s that storage issue. It can seem rather intimidating.
But it doesn’t have to be. This recipe for fresh strawberry jam takes just 4 ingredients (if you don’t count the pinch of salt) and about 15 minutes to cook. It’s just that, quick and easy. And while it won’t last as long as a canned jam, only about 2 weeks, it is just as delicious.
So let’s start – with the star.
It goes without saying you want good fresh sweet strawberries. The best ones can usually be found at roadside stands that are right next to the field where they grow. Or your local farmer’s market. Many of the other stands with flats are selling about the same as they do in your supermarket, so choose your berries wisely if you go there.
Strawberries are not known for lasting a long time after purchase – usually only a few days. But there is a trick to keep them fresher longer. Put the berries, in batches as necessary, into a bowl and put hot (about 120 degrees) water over them, swish them about and leave them for 30 seconds. Drain into a colander and then set to dry on paper towels. Once dry, put into an airtight container and use them, probably within a week. And this jam is perfect to make with those not perfect any more berries.
How chunky you want your jam is up to you. I wanted mine to be mostly smooth, with some berry texture. The easiest way to accomplish this was by using my mini food processor. Using on/off pulses I got the texture that I wanted. You could also chop by hand or slice the berries and mash them with a potato masher while they are cooking in the pan.
Again, up to you. And how sweet your berries are to start. I always start with a lesser amount of sugar and add as I taste and adjust. And I always add a pinch of salt to any sweet dish. Why? Because salt brings out the sweetness. Don’t know why just know that it does. So do add a pinch of salt along with the sugar and taste and adjust for sweetness to your liking.
Many recipes use only lemon juice in their strawberry jam. Some add lemon zest. All good. But I wanted to keep a more strawberry flavor so I decided to only use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice along with 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar, which is sweet while still having some acid.
Why add acid? Pectin is a natural fiber found in plant cell walls and most concentrated in the skin of fruits. It is water-soluble and binds with sugar and fruit acid to form a gel. I added the acid off heat, the jam continued to get jam-like as it cooled. Much like cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.
While this jam could be served once it’s cooled, I found the flavors and texture to be best the next day. Or at least after a few hours of refrigeration. This allows everything to make nice with each other and meld into a strawberry sensation.
Enjoy this Easy Fresh Strawberry Jam with Balsamic on your morning toast, stirred into your oatmeal or of course, with these delicious Fresh Strawberry Cream Scones!
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