My husband loves peanut butter and jelly with strawberry jam. And our son likes strawberry jam quite a bit, too. Normally, I stock up on Trader Joe’s organic strawberry jam whenever I happen to pass by one of their stores on one of my rare forays out of the hinterlands (Hudson Valleyites take note: a TJ’s is opening this August in Colonie – woot!) But while TJ’s jam is fine, it’s just not as good as the homemade stuff.
Plus, we had so much fun picking strawberries last summer (we froze most of them to use in smoothies and sauces), that we decided to increase the size of our haul this summer and expand our preserving efforts to include jam.
Despite the relatively rainy weather, we’ve found enough breaks in the gloom to go picking at two of our favorite local farms, Greig Farm in Redhook (if you have kids, plan to leave time to get ice cream and pet the goats at Gigi’s Market and to feed the extremely competitive koi in the pond behind Grandiflora) and Story Farms in Catskill and have picked enough to freeze a bunch AND to make a decent sized batch of this divine strawberry jam.
If you’re new to canning, this is a great thing to start with since it’s fairly straightforward and the end result is both yummy and beautiful to behold.
Also, the smell that will fill your house while you’re simmering the jam on the stove is nothing short of divine – so sweet and summery it almost makes you want to cry. This smell stands in stark contrast to the intensely vinegary odor that pervades every nook and cranny of your house when you pickle foods — that smell will also make you want to cry, but not in a good way…
A few notes before you begin:
Don’t skip the macerating step if possible. If you don’t have time to let them sit overnight, even an hour is better than nothing.
And don’t cut any corners on your fruit – preserve the freshest and best berries you can find!
This recipe is adapted from a few sources including one of my favorite books, Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton as well as the divine strawberry vanilla jam recipe in Marisa McClellan’s wonderful new book, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round. I have more cookbook recommendations, info, recipes and links to great resources for you on my canning and preserving page.
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