Strawberry and Vanilla Jam

Strawberry season is one of my favourite times of the year. Growing up in New Zealand strawberry season heralded the start of summer holidays, no more school and endless sun soaked days spent running wild at my grandparents’ farm. As kids we would roam all over the farm creating adventures out of nothing: a secret fort underneath a pile of tree branches, spies, pirates, detectives; we were only limited by our imagination. One of the highlights of this time was Christmas, not just because of all the food and presents, but because mum would always make a pavlova topped with luscious red strawberries!

Now that I live in sub tropical Queensland I have to get used to strawberries being in season during the winter/spring months (which means now). But no matter what the time of year I am always happy when these luscious red berries start making an appearance and today I am going to use them to make one of my favourite jams.

There is something comforting about making jam, every time I make it I am reminded of generations of women before me who have done exactly the same thing. Admittedly, they were  doing it to save money and use up copious amounts of fruit while I do it for the pleasure and because it tastes so good.

Recipe

Makes 2 jars.

  • 1kg Strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1kg Sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice.

Method

Hull and halve the strawberries.

Place strawberries and water in a large heavy based saucepan. Cook strawberries and water, stirring occasionally, on a medium heat for 15 minutes or until fruit has broken down.

Add the vanilla bean and seeds, sugar and lemon juice stir until sugar has been completely combined.

Bring strawberry mixture to the boil then turn down to a simmer.

Simmer fruit mix until temperature reaches 105°C then test if jam is ready as per instructions below. If not ready keep cooking jam and then retest until ready. I took my jam temperature to 108°C, patience is the key here.

Skim white foamy scum from the top of the jam when it is finished cooking. A lot of people will skim as the jam is cooking, but I find it works just to do it at the end – there is less wastage that way.

Pour hot jam directly into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Tips:

  1. Pectin is the gelling agent in fruit, but not all fruits are equal when it comes to pectin. The lower the pectin the harder it will be to get the jam to set. Strawberries, for example, are low in pectin so I add lemon juice to my jam to increase the pectin and the acidity
  2. I don’t use special jam setting sugar or powdered pectin, I just use normal sugar. Jam setting sugar does contain extra pectin, but I haven’t used it before so you are on your own with that one
  3. Note that sugar acts as a preservative and also helps the jam set so you will need to consider this if you want to reduce the amount of sugar you use in your jam
  4. The magic number to set jam is 105°C, although for strawberry jam I usually go up to 108°C
  5. Always sterilise your jars before pouring your jam.  Wash and rinse jars, line the bottom of a baking dish with a clean tea towel then place the clean jars upside down on the tea towel. Place the tray of jars in the oven at 100°C (I use 150°C as that is as low as my oven will go) for approx. 15 minutes or until the jars are dry. You want to do this approx. 15 minutes before jam is ready, which brings me to my next point
  6. Don’t pour jam into cold jars or the jars will crack
  7. To check if the jam is set, place a small dish into the freezer. Once the dish is cold pour a small teaspoon of jam onto the dish. Place the dish back in to the freezer to cool. Remove from freezer and run your finger through the jam, if the line sets then jam is ready to pour into jars.

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18 thoughts on “Strawberry and Vanilla Jam

  1. TheKitchenLioness

    Karen, strawberry and vanilla jam – your version sounds so very dellcious and it looks even better! Terrific post with wonderful pictures! And I agree with my previous commentator, scones would be heavenly with this jam right now (it is teatime here!)

    Reply
  2. Kumar's Kitchen

    We love strawberries and vanilla together…every now and then we have a strawberry-vanilla mixed ice-cream…no way thought about this same mix in jam….it will taste so delicious….perfect way of using summery strawberries,thanks 🙂

    Reply
  3. Amy Tong

    That’s some precious memories you had growing up and that really warms my heart. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Your Strawberry and Vanilla Jam sounds luscious and delicious. Can’t wait to make a batch of my own! And strawberries piled on pavlova is one of my favorite treats to indulge.

    Reply
  4. Jas@AbsolutelyJas

    I have never attempted to make my own jam after once watching one of my former housemates destroy all the beautiful figs from his tree into a syrupy sugary mess that never set – I now know that it was because of a lack of pectin. I’m not sure that I could resist eating all the strawberries – they’d never get as far as a jam!!

    Reply
  5. David

    I love your childhood memories, especially the pavlova at Christmastime. I know exactly what you mean about seasons “changing” when you move to another locale. When we moved to the desert, our “in season” fruits, vegetables and herbs all went topsy-turvy! But we roll with it, and love them whenever we can get them! This jam looks spectacular – and the addition of vanilla is really intriguing! When berry season rolls around next March, I will definitely try this.

    Reply
  6. Gather and Graze

    Beautiful looking jam Karen! Can just imagine how fabulous it would be with a batch of scones, or just slathered on a fresh baguette… Hope you left a few strawberries to make that Pav as well! 🙂

    Reply

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