09 April 2010

my first strawberry jam

Two days ago, when it was 95 degrees and sunny, I would have told you we skipped over spring and went straight to summer. That weather (not the pound of over-ripe strawberries in the fridge that I couldn't figure out what to do with :-D) inspired me to make something summery. Glad I did because the rain last night dropped the temperature some 30 degrees, and I'm back to using my seat warmers in my car at night. My new car is so sweet. So is this jam. This is a pectin-free recipe (rough translation: no added gelatin to firm it up), which means this is a looser jam... Looks (cuz it is) home made with love. And vanilla beans. Instant love. (Aside: vanilla is easily my absolute most favorite ingredient for sweets EVER, and I'd choose it over chocolate any day. There, it's out there. Digest that. Aside over.) The vanilla adds a cozy warmth - a flavor that both mellows and complements the strawberriness. Didn't have my camera today so relied on Brandt to take this pic of it spread on a bagel with cream cheese (thanks Brandt), so no crystal clear shot of the little flecks of vanilla seeds I wish you could see throughout the jam. Check the Wash Post link below for the original recipe that has some helpful pointers on where to find beans.

One last thing - the original recipe calls for 6 lbs of berries, so I used my handy dandy math skillz to divide. This small batch recipe produces 8oz of jam. Because of that, I didn't need to sterilize the canning jar to store it.

Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam
adapted from The Washington Post

1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 C sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl for 30 minutes or until a puddle of liquid forms at the bottom. Dump into a pot and cook over medium high heat. Stir it ocassionally and cook for about 15-20 minutes and looks thickened or, if you have a candy thermometer, until it hits 220 degrees. Remove and discard the vanilla beans. Either ladle it into a small glass container, or allow to cool and store in a plastic tupperware.

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