Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Putting Up: Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam

Yes, I realize this isn't a post of garden photos. Those will come when it stops raining! And, yes, I realize that strawberries + balsamic vinegar + black pepper + jam sounds completely foul. But, sometimes opposites really do attract. This is one of those times, my friends.

Close your eyes. Imagine the taste of a fresh strawberry...not those big, flavorless ones, but those smaller, intense, deeply flavored ones. Now, imagine being able to spread that strawberry on toast, a biscuit, or pancakes. That's what this jam tastes like. I guess you could say it's a cheater way to take store bought strawberries (Whole Foods has a sale: 4lb for $8. Act fast!) and turn them into the image of a true strawberry.

Honestly, after this recipe, I see no reason for ever making "plain" strawberry jam again. The directions for this include canning instructions, but I'm sure you could freeze it in individual containers or give away to friends (without canning) for immediate consumption.

Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam
From: Canadian Living.

12 cups (2.8 L) strawberries, hulled
1 pkg (49 g) fruit pectin (I used Sure-Jell)
4-1/2 cups (1.125 L) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) coarsely cracked black pepper (use freshly ground!)

1. Sanitize 5 pint jars (or 10 half-pint). This recipe said it would produce 8 cups, but it produced 10 for me. Best to be prepared! Also, put 2 small plates in the freezer (to test the jell)

2. In a large pot, mash your strawberries. You can use a potato masher or, if you don't have one like me, use the bottom of a jar.

3. Mix the pectin with 1/4 c of the sugar; stir into the berries. Bring berries to full rolling boil over high. Stir constantly w/ wooden spoon. Add remaining sugar and boil hard for 1 minute.

4. Remove plate from freezer & put 1 tsp of jam on it. Return to freezer & wait 2 minutes. If, when you push the edge of the jam, it wrinkles & makes a little path, your jam will set. If it doesn't, cook the mixture a bit longer & try again.

5. Remove from heat. Skim off foam with metal spoon. Stir in balsamic vinegar and pepper.

6. Fill your sanitized jars with the hot jam, leaving head room. Remove air bubbles by running a chopstick around the edges of the jars and wipe the rim clean. Cover with sanitized lids and tighten the screw lid finger-tight. Put into boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.

7. Remove & let cool. You should hear some popping sounds if your jars seal. When cooled, you can test the seal; you should not be able to lift the lids off the jars.

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