Strawberry season is quickly, and sadly, coming to a close. As the weather begins to cool, and jeans are dragged out of whatever corner they were hidden in for the warmer months, the overflowing boxes of gem-like strawberries begin to dwindle at the markets. After purchasing far too many strawberries at the markets (who can resist the smell?!), I decided a strawberry jam was only fitting, to remind me of summer on those winter nights when days at the beach seem years away. The addition of fresh vanilla bean makes this jam extra special, perfect for your morning toast or with fresh scones and cream.
Ingredients 1 kg fresh strawberries
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
630g granulated sugar (may need to add a little more or less depending on the sweetness of your strawberries)
2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped (keep pods)
Method 1. Place a saucer and a few metal spoons in the freezer.
2. Hull and roughly chop strawberries.
hulled market strawberries
3. Blend around 3/4 of the strawberries in a food processor until desired consistency is reached (depending on whether you like your jam to be rather chunky or to have a smoother consistency). Leave the other 1/4 of the strawberries chunky.
4. Put blended strawberries, chopped strawberries, vanilla bean seeds, vanilla pods and lemon juice in a large, heavy-based pot.
5. Cook berries on low heat until warmed through and softened (make sure they are softened before adding sugar or the fruit in the jam will be hard).
6. Add sugar. Keep on a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved.
7. Turn the heat to medium-high, and rapidly boil the mixture for 10-20 minutes, stirring occassionally. Boil until the mixture reaches 104 degrees on a candy thermometer or until the mixture has darkened in colour and looks as though it has thickened.
8. To ensure that the mixture has set (turned to jam), the set needs to be tested. To do this, take a spoon from the freezer and scoop a small amount of the mixture onto the spoon, place the spoon into the freezer on the saucer. Leave for a couple of minutes to allow the mixture to cool in the freezer. Once cooled, pull the spoon out and push the mixture, if it wrinkles and has a thick, jam consistency, it is finished. If it does not, continue to cook the jam, testing every few minutes until the jam has set.
9. Once the jam has set, turn off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla pods and divide jam between jars (old jam jars or mason jars are great). Allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge.
the finished product
Note: Because vanilla beans are expensive, i like to buy mine in bulk online, the price per vanilla bean ends up costing well under $1.