July 06, 2011

Balsamic-Strawberry Jam (make this NOW)

Forget the jars, the tongs, the mess. THIS is the jam recipe you need in your life. While relaxing upstate with LP & friends, Laura mentioned an Epicurious recipe that was allegedly dead simple--just a handful of everyday ingredients. And the combo? Irresistible. Strawberries & balsamic vinegar? Yes, please!

We doubled this recipe and had about 4 pounds of strawberries to hull and quarter (our adapted recipe is at the bottom of this post). I found this part very relaxing--we just sat at the table, sang along to some music, and all pitched in on the berries. These were done in no time. Yes, I sampled a few... you know, for 'quality assurance.'

These were so sweet that we dialed back the sugar to about 1 1/4 cups instead of two, also mixing brown/turbinado sugar instead of just white. We added this, 4 teaspoons of freshly-cracked black pepper, and the water and vinegar to the pot, dissolving everything before adding the bright, luscious berries.

A boil turned to a slow, steady simmer, and 30 minutes later we were sampling the delicious result. Wow. Talk about layers o' flavor! First you get the sweet strawberries with a rich undercurrent of the balsamic, and a tickly, tingly heat from the pepper.

We used some jars from the pantry--just old jam jars and whatnot. We didn't bother with boiling the contents and sealing the jars--this was for immediate consumption!

We put this on generous spreads of goat cheese, a topping of fresh mint from the garden, and we had culinary ecstasy! I can also attest to the deliciousness of it atop vanilla ice cream. Trust me, it won't be around long enough to worry about 'preserving!'


2 cups strawberries (about 1 pint), trimmed and quartered
1 1/4 cups sugar (we used white & turbinado)
6 Tbs balsamic vinegar
6 Tbs water
4 teaspoons cracked black pepper (we ramped up the pepper, and how!)
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest

Add everything but the berries to a large saucepan on low heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Add berries and coat completely. Bring mixture to boil, then quickly bring down to steady simmer for at least 30 minutes stirring from time to time. It's ready once it starts to thicken up, but it will still be mostly liquid. Try to avoid scarfing the entire mixture right then and there. I dare you.

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