Strawberry Jam

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    4 cups

Appears in

Making strawberry jam is a spring ritual in my kitchen, especially at the peak of the season when the berries are at the height of their flavor. In this recipe, strawberries are cooked in a boiling sugar syrup, giving the finished jam both gloss and thickness without extra sweetness. Cooking the jam over high heat is the key to its fresh flavor. Once the jam is off the heat, you’ll have a classic strawberry jam, simple and straightforward. If you want to add an interesting layer of flavor to the berries, I’ve listed four flavoring options: a bright, tart lime; balsamic vinegar, meaty and rich; herbaceous fresh oregano; and a floral lavender.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar

Optional Flavorings

  • Zest of 2 organic limes
  • 1 tablespoon high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 12 organic lavender stems
  • 12 sprigs of organic oregano

Method

  1. Put a small plate into the freezer for testing the jam later. Set up an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and about 1 cup water. Set a smaller bowl on the counter next to it. (Do not set the smaller bowl inside the larger bowl yet; if you do, condensation will line the bowl and water down your jam.) Put a rubber spatula next to the bowls.
  2. Hull the strawberries, cutting larger berries in half and leaving smaller berries whole.
  3. Measure ½ cup water and the sugar into a heavy-bottomed 5- to 7-quart pot. Let the mixture sit for a minute to combine.
  4. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over a high flame and cook, without stirring, until the syrup is gently bubbling all across the surface, 5 to 7 minutes. At first the bubbles will be small, boiling rapidly, and clustering around the edges; when the syrup is nearly ready, the bubbles will be about the size of quarters, bubbling slowly and evenly across the surface. The syrup shouldn’t caramelize; if any color begins to form, swirl the pan and add the fruit immediately.
  5. Add the strawberries and stir with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. With the heat on medium-high, cook the berries for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the syrup thickens to a jammy consistency; some of the berries will have broken down and some will still have their shape.
  6. When the jam is nearly ready, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. The temperature of the finished jam should be about 210°F. When the jam is done, move the pot to a cool burner. (Don’t leave it on the burner it has cooked on; even if you turn the flame off, the residual heat will overcook the jam.)
  7. Remove the plate from the freezer. Test the jam by placing a spoonful of it on the plate (see Sidebar). It should thicken promptly when you do so.
  8. When the jam is finished, using potholders, pour the pot of jam into the smaller bowl. Scrape out every bit with the spatula. Set the bowl into the ice bath and stir the jam a few times to allow some of the heat to escape.
  9. You now have a classic strawberry jam. If you want to add some extra flavor, at this point you can infuse the jam with herbs, spices, or other ingredients. Finely zest the limes over the bowl of warm jam, so that the jam captures the lime oil as well as the zest. Or stir in balsamic vinegar. Or hold sprigs of oregano or lavender in your hand like a bouquet and stir them around the jam. Do about 10 slow stirs—stirring for longer than a minute will infuse too much flavor. Remove the sprigs from the jam, wiping off any excess jam as you pull them out.
  10. Cover the jam with plastic wrap so that the plastic is touching the surface of the jam, to keep a skin from forming. Once the jam is completely cooled, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.