We went strawberry picking last Friday with our friends the Okerstroms. It was a fun sticky time. Gabby pretty much ate anything she saw...red, white or green. Nate practiced basketball with the strawberries tossing them into the buckets. In other words, there wasn't much else we could do with the strawberries but make jam. I've been wanting to get back into canning for years and this was our first foray back.
To start, the night before you want to make the jam, hull the berries and chop them roughly.
Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar on top.
Slice open two vanilla beans and scrape out those little bits of heaven.
Mix the vanilla beans and their pods into the strawberry mixture. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so to get nice and juicy then cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, start the jam process by getting your equipment ready. Boil the jars and lids in a large pot of water to sanitize.
While the jars heat up take out the strawberries. Take two lemons and zest them. I used a microplane zester. I find that they get very little of the pith (white part of the lemon) which is bitter.
Mix the zest into the strawberries.
Then juice those lemons, pour in the juice and mix.
Pour everything into a large, nonreactive pot (not metal) and bring to a boil. It will foam like mad at first. Cook on high for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
You want the jam to be syrupy. If you take a wooden spoon and run it through the jam the jam should not run off in a steady single stream. If it does, keep cooking on high heat.
When the jam is ready it should form a bit of a sheet when dripping off of the spoon. See how there is more than one drip on the spoon?
It reduced quite a bit. Turn off the heat and remove the vanilla bean pods.
Take an immersion blender and puree some of the fruit. If you did a good job chopping the fruit you will only need to puree about on third of the jam.
Next add in the pectin and return to a boil. I used one 1.75 oz box of Sure-Jell. This will make the jam a thicker consistency but still loose.
Boil until the jam reaches 220 degrees.
Remove jam from the heat and fill jars.
Leave about 1/2" at the top as the jam will increase in height after processed. Put on lids and rings. The rings should only be tightened as much as you can with just your fingertips not your whole palm. This will ensure proper sealing.
Place the jars in a large pot of water and boil for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars and set aside. After a few minutes you will start to hear pinging of the lids sealing. Let rest 1-2 weeks before eating.
We haven't cracked open a jar yet but we licked the pot clean. One word...yum! If the jam is a little too syrupy for your liking simply turn it into an ice cream topping!
This recipe is from the book Food in Jars. A great canning cookbook!
Strawberry Vanilla Jam
8 c. hulled and chopped strawberries
5 c. sugar, divided
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
2 lemons, zest and juice
1 (1.75 oz) package of pectin
In a nonreactive bowl, combine the chopped strawberries with 1 cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and pods. Let the mixture sit at room temperature until the sugar begins to pull the liquid out of the berries, about 15 to 30 minutes, the cover and refrigerate overnight. If you don't want to wait overnight, even just 1 hour of maceration is better than none at all.
When you're ready to make the jam, prepare a boiling water bath and 4 regular mouth 1-pint jars (I did 8 regular mouth 1/2-pint jars).
Remove the macerated strawberries from the refrigerator and pour everything into a large, nonreactive pot. Add the remaining 4 cups of sugar and lemon zest and juice and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat (this jam will foam madly) and cook on high heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until it takes on a thick, syrupy consistency.
Remove the vanilla bead pods from the mixture. If you have an immersion blender, use it at this point to puree some of the fruit. Alternatively, transfer about a third of the jam to a blender and puree, then return the pureed fruit to the pot.
Add the pectin to the fruit mixture and bring to a rolling boil. Insert your candy thermometer into the jam and attach it to the side of the pot. Let the jam boil vigorously until it reaches 220 degrees.
Once the jam reaches 220 degrees and remains at that temperature for 2 minutes, remove the pot from heat and ladle the jam into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.