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Vanilla Spiced Strawberry Jam

June 7, 2012

Strawberry Jam

This jam is certainly worth mentioning if you have a quart of fresh ripe strawberries at hand.  I could not help removing the lid each time this jam met my glance in the refrigerator. The complex fragrance alone was gorgeous enough to persuade me from my steel cut oat routine to a lovely piece of buttered toast with jam.

Strawberry Jam

Beautiful red gems! Lovely creatures of June that definitively mark the dawn of summer. I love thee smothered on my toast and swirled in my yogurt. Oh, ode to the strawberry!

Fondly, I tarry through childhood memories of grandpa, sober-faced and heeding me caution: “Amanda, be careful with those strawberries. Don’t swallow the seeds,” he would say. At 7 this instruction was baffling as I stared at my seed studded rubies. At 12, I snorted with laughter at my grandfather’s cleverness. Now at 30, I smirk and instruct my own children to be mindful of the seeds, then inwardly squeal with delight at their differing reactions.

We have, unknowingly, made a tradition of strawberry picking with our girls in early June. If the crop is abundant my best berry pickers will bring home a crate aheap of red jewels. Then, we devote the afternoon to drifting in the kitchen making edible treasures! One of those treasures always includes strawberry jam. Un-regrettably, I made the jam a bit more interesting this time around.

Sadly, our tradition of picking our own berries was curbed by a late freeze which brought ruin to the local crops. It wasn’t enough to stop us from brewing some jam with the quarts we found at the nearby market.

StrawberriesStrawberry JamStrawberry Jam

The process is simple, really. Wash and hull the berries, and then, depending on how chunky you like your jam, you can pulse the berries in a food processor a few times, dice them with a knife, mash them with a potato masher, or puree them completely for a smooth fruit spread. The preference is all yours.

We make a few batches, some smooth and some chunky. The smooth texture is nice to stir into  yogurt and cottage cheese, or to top off vanilla bean ice cream. The chunkier texture is perfect for toast and sandwiches.

Most jam recipes call for almost equal parts refined sugar to fresh fruit. I significantly reduced the amount of sugar and used turbinado instead. The results did not feel compromising in the least.

Strawberry Jam

Add one tablespoon of lemon juice. This not only enhances the layers of flavor, but acts as a natural preservative. Make sure you measure it. Too much of a good thing is not always good. After a mere ten minutes of simmering, the strawberries melt down and absorb the bright ginger and warm cinnamon spices.

Watch every cool cat in the house come running to the kitchen, drawn by its sweet aromas. Be prepared to defend off any wee ones willing to burn their tongues for a taste. Oh, and be mindful of the the seeds.


Strawberry Jam

Vanilla Spiced Strawberry Jam

Serves: 1 1/4 cup
This jam is best with fresh, ripe strawberries, but if your berries are a little less ripe, more sugar may be needed. I recommend a chunkier texture for toast and sandwiches and a smoother, more pureed version, for yogurt, cottage cheese, and vanilla bean ice cream.
  • 1 quart ripe strawberries
  • 1/4 cup turbinado or cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Wash and hull the strawberries. Place the strawberries in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, then pulse a few times to chop the strawberries into pea sized pieces, or puree the strawberries completely for a smooth fruit spread. If you do not own a food processor, you can cut by knife or mash with a potato masher. Transfer strawberries to medium sauté pan. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow to cool before transferring to an air-tight container of choice. Will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.





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