Strawberry Balsamic Jam

City Paper

As summer begins to wind down and the nights start to get cooler, I find myself already feeling wistful for easy summer living: flowy sundresses, refreshing seasonal beers, and fresh, beautiful summer fruit, at the peak of ripeness.

Pretty soon it will be too cold to wear those sundresses and, before we know it, we’ll be eagerly awaiting the release of fall and winter brews at the local taphouse. 

And, yes, nobody will be able to shut up about the pumpkin spice latte.

But there is still time, my friends, to enjoy sweet summer fruit. Even better, if you have a couple of hours to spare, there is time to put that wonderful fruit in a time capsule so you can enjoy it all year round. I’m talking about homemade jam here.

This simple strawberry jam is made a touch more sophisticated with the additions of tart balsamic vinegar and spicy, freshly cracked black pepper, which play so nicely with sweet strawberries, but if you are a sucker for the plain stuff, feel free to omit them. Additionally, this jam jells up the old-fashioned way, requiring no pectin and relying instead on sugar, lemon juice, and time. Make enough of it now, and you can go ahead and cross holiday gifting off your to-do list. 

This jam is phenomenal spread on toast, but my favorite way to eat it is with something savory, such as creamy, mild cheeses (think goat cheese, triple creme, or even regular cream cheese), or as a glaze for roast chicken.

I recommend using half-pint mason jars (or equivalent) with fitted lids and seal rings, but if you plan on using the jam immediately, feel free to simply store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and chopped $6

1 ¼ cup sugar pantry

Juice of ½ lemon (about 3 tablespoons juice) $0.50 for a whole lemon

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper pantry

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar pantry 

Pinch of salt pantry

Total estimated cost of ingredients: $6.50

 

DIRECTIONS

Combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine.

Let sit for 1 hour.

Wash with soap and hot water, and thoroughly dry 6 half-pint mason jars (or equivalent) with fitted lids and sealing rings. Set aside.

Combine the sugar-strawberry mixture and lemon juice in a medium pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until the jam begins to jell, about 30 minutes.

Add the pepper, balsamic vinegar, and salt to the jam. Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.

Remove the jam from heat.

Ladle the jam into the prepared mason jars and seal the lids tightly.

Submerge the sealed jars into the boiling water for 10 minutes to form a good seal (do this in batches if your pot isn’t big enough to boil all 3 jars at once).

At this point, the jam may be used once cooled, though it is best after at least 24 hours.

Store the jam for up to a year.

Serves 30. 


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