In the past four weeks I’ve picked over 15 pounds of strawberries, nearly three gallons of ruby red goodness. From two different farms on two different mornings. I’ve made preserves and ice cream, salads and guacamole, and sprinkled them in my cereal every morning. I’ve stashed a few bags of puree in the freezer, and filled my pantry with over a dozen jars of jam. And I’m considering going out for one more load before the season is over.
If too many strawberries is a problem for you, well, then, more strawberries for me.
May is, perhaps, my favorite month of them all, if only because that is when the strawberries ripen in Tennessee. You can’t beat local strawberries, the kind that are red right through to the core. The kind you can smell before you see, the fragrance of strawberries hitting your nose before you even see the fields. The kind that are so sweet and juicy it’s almost blasphemy to add any sugar to them at all.
And yet… strawberry jam is hardly blasphemy. It’s the best way to preserve the best of May so the rest of the year doesn’t seem so lame by comparison. And even though eating 15 pounds of strawberries might seem tempting, believe me, your stomach will not be happy with you if you try. And we all know they’ll only keep so long in the refrigerator.
I knew last year’s Strawberry Hibiscus Jam was going to be tough to beat (my little 2nd cousin Skye would vouch for that, I’m sure. She may not remember me but she sure as heck remembers my jam). With that in mind I decided to do two different flavors this year that I hope will please Skye just as much: basil and jalapeño.
Basil is such a logical companion for strawberries, that one was a no brainer. The slightly grassy notes of the basil perfectly compliment the candy-sweet berries. I could see this one being used in both sweet and savory ways.
The jalapeño, on the other hand, is for adventurous canners and eaters alike. I honestly had no idea how much spice would come through in the final jam (and had a brief moment of “oh shit did I ruin the whole batch?” as I threw 3 whole jalapeños into the food processor.) But the balance between sweetness and spice is perfect. With savory undertones, this jam would be divine with cheese, mindblowing on a burger, or the secret to perhaps the world’s greatest peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
(What are you waiting for? Click through for the recipe and to download a set of free printable labels for your own jars!)
A few words (ok, more than a few) about pectin:
I’ve struggled with getting my jam to properly set. I’ve tried Sure-Jell powder and Certo liquid, and neither has really produced an ideal set. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, the low-sugar stuff sets up almost too firm for my taste, with an off flavor that I don’t love. The two batches pictured here were made with regular Sure-Jell, and are a bit looser than I’d like them to be. Still delicious, don’t get me wrong, but they’d be a bit drippy if you wanted to use them for, say, a sandwich.
In the time since, however, I made a third batch of jam (plain-ass strawberry, as per Taylor’s request) using Pomona’s Universal Pectin, and I have to say I may never go back to Sure-Jell again. Since it doesn’t rely on sugar to set, the results are much more reliable no matter how much I tweak the recipe. The jam set up beautifully with absolutely none of the separation issues (‘floating fruit’) that I’ve had with other batches. So while I actually made these two jams with Sure-Jell, I much preferred the batch I made using Pomona’s and thus have written the recipe below accordingly.
If you prefer to use a different brand of pectin, I recommend starting with the basic strawberry jam recipe on your pectin packet insert, and adding the jalapeño or basil to that. Since each type of pectin has its own specific instructions (sugar quantities, ingredient order, boil times, etc) you’d be best off following the instructions and especially sugar quantities for whichever brand of pectin you are using.
- 2 1/2 pounds (about 10 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin
- 2 teaspoons calcium water (included with the pectin)
For Jalapeño Jam:
- 3 large jalapeños, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
For Basil Jam:
- 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- Prepare canner and wash/sterilize 5 half-pint mason (or equivalent) jars. Keep jars in hot (not boiling) water until ready to use. Warm lids in hot (not boiling) water to sterilize and soften seal.
- In a food processor, pulse about 1/3 of strawberries with either jalapeño or basil until finely chopped. Add remaining berries and pulse briefly until coarsely chopped; do not liquefy the berries as you still want chunks of berries in your final jam. You should have approximately 4 cups of crushed berries.
- Pour berries into a large, heavy saucepan along with lemon juice and calcium water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk together pectin and sugar until evenly incorporated. Add to strawberries, stirring vigorously until completely dissolved. Continue to stir unti mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that may have formed.
- Ladle jam into jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Screw on lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool completely, 12 to 24 hours. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks.
To use, simply download the printable file, then print onto full-sheet sticker paper (I used Kraft brown sticker paper, which can be purchased online at OnlineLabels.com or locally at most office supply stores). Cut out the shapes and apply directly to the the finished jars. Curious about the hexagon and square jars I’ve used? I ordered them online at SKS Bottle (the 6oz size).
Disclaimer: Copyright Love & Olive Oil. For personal use only. If you post about or share these labels, please credit appropriately and do not link directly to the downloadable file but rather to this post. Please do not distribute these downloadable files. Thank you much!