Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Jams

I love to make jam.  The sticky, shiny, amazing burst on your tongue flavour is something that makes everything all right in my world.  My son is inheriting this passion, and the recipe I made the other day was so fabulous he tried to sneak whole spoonfuls from the pan as I was making it and jarring it.

"Is it too hot?  Will it burn my mouth?" he says as he stuffs the spoon in his mouth.

"Yes", I say - "but it's worth it!"

The object of my passion this week is Marisa McClellan's Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam.  No added pectin, no added anything - just a burst of flavour that blows all that grocery store jam to shame.  It's become really hard to buy jam in the store.  They just don't compare.  My husband has been sneaky, buying me frozen blueberries so I can make his favorite blueberry jam, but I think this one might win out.

I realize strawberries are out of season, but I didn't find this recipe until it was too late.  So far I've made it with fresh and frozen strawberries, with no difference in the quality.  And it only helps that this jam is an amazing ruby red that looks wonderful in the jar - the perfect gift to give a friend during the holidays!

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam (from

1 qt strawberries (about 2 lbs, or 4 cups chopped berries)
2 cups sugar, divided
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Wash and chop berries, then toss with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla beans/seeds in a large jar or bowl.  Allow the berries to macerate for at least 2-3 hours and up to 72 hours.  When you’re ready to make the jam, prepare 2 pint jars or 4 half pint jars.  

Pour macerated strawberries into a large pot and add the remaining cup of sugar.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the jam reaches 220°F.  Add the lemon zest and juice in the final 5 minutes of cooking. 

Once the jam has reached 220°F, remove the pan from the heat.  Pour into prepared jars.  Wipe the rims and apply the lids and rings.  Process in your canner for 10 minutes (remember to wait until it reaches a full rolling boil before you start timing).

When time is up, remove the jars from the canner and let cool on a towel lined counter top.  When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check seals.  If any jars are not sealed, store them in the fridge and use them first.  Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place.

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