Strawberry Vanilla Jam
I feel like my blog posts this summer reflect that I have been eating a heck of a lot of ice cream and desserts, and minimal healthy dinners. While I may actually be eating a ton of ice cream, I am still eating reasonably healthy meals. I just haven't really made anything new and exciting that is worth blogging about. I have been making a lot of our same ol' favorites. And grilling. A lot of that has been happening. But, I do have this jam that I am pretty excited to share with you today.
If you have been a long time reader, then you will know that I can a lot of jam every year to keep with the never ending demand for PB&J sandwiches that get eaten in my house. It has taken me too darn long to share all my favorite jams I make. Okay, to be fair, just about all the jams I make become my favorite. Anyway, this one is a spin off of my beloved strawberry vanilla honey sauce. Since the honey can make the jam a bit more runny, I decided to omit it, but keep my favorite vanilla bean flavor. I will admit, sometimes honey can be overpowering and dull the flavors you want to pop. With the honey gone in this jam, the fresh strawberry flavor and vanilla beans really come to the front. As I say about all the jams I make, I could eat this with a spoon.
This particular jam is pectin free, but if you dislike cooking without pectin, or are unsure of your setting abilities, I will add a note at the bottom of the recipe for pectin instructions. Grab the last of the those farm fresh summer strawberries and make some jam!
Strawberry Vanilla Jam
Yield: about 7 half-pints
2 quarts strawberries, washed and hulled
5 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
Place a small plate in the freezer. If you plan on canning the jam, sterilize 7 half-pint jars and have ready a boiling water canner.
In a large pot, crush the strawberries until no large pieces remain. Stir in the sugar, split and scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the pot, (throw in the pods too), and lemon juice. Bring to a boil slowly over medium-high heat, stirring often. To check whether the jam is ready, place a small spoonful on the plate in the freezer. Let cool for a minute, then run your finger through the jam. If the jam immediately comes back together, then it is not ready. Place the plate back in the freezer and continue to cook the jam, checking every 10 minutes or so. If the streak holds its place through the jam, then it is ready.
Remove and discard the vanilla bean pods. Remove the jam from the heat and ladle into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars, adjust the two-piece tops and place in the boiling water canner. Process for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and place on the counter. Let cool for 24 hours before checking seal, labeling and storing.
If you aren't canning, keep the jars in the refrigerator for several months.
* If you want to use pectin, omit the lemon juice. Crush the strawberries as directed, stir in one packet of powdered pectin, and vanilla bean pods. Bring to a rolling boil, stir in sugar and bring to a rolling boil again. Stir constantly for 1 minute, then ladle jam into jars. Proceed as directed above.
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