I have a confession. It may shock you.
I don’t like strawberries.
Sometimes I feel like i’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t like fresh strawberries. Not dipped in chocolate, not with fresh cream on a hot summer’s day, not even freshly picked. I’ve never been able to figure out why. It’s not like my aversion to fresh tomatoes (which make me throw up), I just don’t like them. But here’s the kicker… I LOVE strawberry jam.
After buying Gifts from the Kitchen: 100 Irresistible Homemade Presents for Every Occasion by Annie Rigg, I decided that I was going to be making some delicious christmas gifts for my friends and family. Each year I try to make some jam, sometimes a success (2009 Blueberry Jam) sometimes a failure (2008 Peach and Nectarine Jam… and I use the word ‘Jam’ very loosely here). This year I was determined to try the old faithful Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve. The recipe was straightforward and very easy to follow and, unlike many other recipes, it did not make litres and litres of jam that required bottles and bottles to contain it. This recipe makes enough to fill 3 X 125mL jars and doesn’t require a giant saucepan.
Firstly, you must make sure that you sterilise your jars. Not necessarily as difficult as it sounds. I bought these jars for $5.95 (a tad expensive but they were all I could find at the time) from The Essential Ingredient in Rozelle.
They came with instructions on how to sterilise them, but here is how I do it. First I take the rubber seals off then I wash the jars in hot soapy water then pop them on a tray and into an oven heated at 200 degrees celsius for 20 mins. When the jars are cool I pop the seals in boiling water for 1 minute then stick them back on the lids. The recipe can be found at the end of this post, but let me walk you through it.
After sterlising your jars, you need to behead your strawberries.
And chop them up into tiny pieces. (about 550g of strawberries are needed)
Then pop 450g preserving sugar (I use the CSR because its the only one I can find, and it’s pretty good) along with the juice of one lemon and the seeds and pod of one vanilla beans in a large sized heavy based saucepan. (I used two vanilla beans because… well… I just love them)
Put over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Add your strawberries and stir to make sure they are coated with the sugar mixture.
Leave to stand for around 1 hour so that the fruit can soften and release its tasty juices into the syrup.
Return the pan to a medium heat and cook at a steady boil without stirring for 20 mins or until it reaches setting point. Here are a few ways to tell if it has reached setting point. I prefer to use the chilled saucer method. (When I made this, I had to leave it for over 30 mins before it reached setting point, so if it takes a while, do not stress! Just keep testing every nowand then and be careful not to burn your jam.
When your jam has reached setting point, take it off the heat and pour it into your waiting jars.
Tah Dah! Fresh pots of Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve!
The jam will thicken after it has rested for a while, but the beauty of this recipe is that it tastes delicious so even if something goes wrong and it doesn’t set you can still use it as a sauce over ice cream or some delicious dessert. Mmmmmm!! Win win!
It is a relatively fuss free recipe due to the smaller yield so it is not too late to make this for someone for Christmas. Get cooking!
And, my lovelies, what kind of jam is your favourite? After trying Kaya and Champagne jelly, I am eager to try some other flavours!
Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve – Adapted From Gifts From the Kitchen by Annie Rigg
450g preserving sugar
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp water
1 vanilla pod (feel free to use more if you wish)
550g small, ripe strawberries (hulled and chopped)
1. Put the sugar, water and lemon into a large heavy based saucepan or preserving pan. Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the sugar mixture. Add the pod and place over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved
2. Remove the pan from the heat and tip the strawberries in. Stir gently to coat the strawberry pieces in syrup then leave to stand for around 1 hr
3. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook at a steady boil for around 20 mins, or until it reaches setting point. Keep testing for setting point and don’t worry if it takes longer but make sure you resist the temptation to turn your heat on much higher or you might burn your jam on the bottom.
4. When the jam has reached setting point, take the pan off the heat and let the mixture stand for 10 mins to let the strawberries settle.
5. Pour or ladle the mixture into waiting bottles (it should take 3 and a bit 125mL bottles) and seal immediately. They will keep for months unopened in a cool, dark cupboard or up to 1 month in the fridge once opened.