The WB Larder: Strawberry + Basil Jam


 Prep Time : 15 + 15 Minutes | Cook Time : 30 Minutes | Total Time : 1 hour | Difficulty : Moderate

Hello my lovelies! It’s the end of summer here so it’s time to hold onto the sweet flavour of strawberries for a bit longer. With a twist of course. Basil is a great partner for strawberries. We just have to be careful not to go overboard. I have a trick for that. Natch. This jam uses sugar that has pectin added to it to make life easier. Because this is our first proper jam together there will be a little bit of jam science here and there to get us going. I really hope you try this recipe. It’s a small batch and a tasty way to have a go at making some jam of your own. I have only given weight measurements because the proportion of sugar is important to preserving the jam and preventing nasties. It’s the ideal time to get that scale I keep banging on about… Even if you don’t eat as much toast as I do (it’s probably not recommended) homemade jams are great to have on hand to give your baking an extra lift. I know there are a lot of instructions today but it’s worth reading them all so you feel confident and get the best results!

First of all, we need to get all our equipment out and ready. Wash your jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse them. I always do one more than I think I will need just in case.

Put the oven on to 120C (250F). Put the jars inside – make sure they aren’t touching each other. We need to heat the jars above 100C for at least 10 minutes to sterilise them. I leave them in until I’m ready for them later so they get a good period of heating and I’m not rushing to get them done while the jam is cooking.

Pop the lids in a small saucepan of water and simmer them for 10 minutes. You can set this going while you do your other prep. Put a folded tea towel on the bench next to the stovetop. You will put your hot jars and lids on here when you’re ready to fill them. If you put them straight on the bench they can crack from the change in temperature or mark the benchtop. Put two or three small saucers or dishes into the freezer to chill.

I am using frozen strawberries today. I often end up with fruit in the freezer in large zip-lock bags waiting to be made into preserves especially towards the end of summer. At the moment there are peaches, plums and blackcurrants. I also am all for buying good quality frozen fruit if you can’t get fresh. You can’t get fresh gooseberries in a good quantity for love or money in NZ. Unless I steal them from my parents.

I like to quarter the large ones and halve the small ones. If they have been frozen they will break down a little more easily as they cook. Pop them in the pan with the lemon juice and lemon zest. Just take a couple of strips off the lemon with a vegetable peeler before you juice it.

Put the pan over a low heat and gently cook the fruit until it starts to break down. This can take up to 20 minutes. Now you need to decide how chunky you like your jam. If you want a super smooth jam with no pieces of fruit the easiest thing to do is cook the fruit until it’s soft and then give it a couple of turns with a stick blender. If you do this then retrieve your lemon peel before blending. If you like there to be a mix of fruity pieces and goo like I do then turn to your wooden spoon or potato masher. Mash the fruit or squish some of the pieces against the side of the pan with the spoon to make it pulpy.

When you have the chunkiness how you like it. Add the sugar and salt. I use Chelsea Jam sugar for this recipe.

Fruits contain pectin which is what causes jams to set. Different fruits have different amounts of pectin. Plums and blackberries have a lot. Strawberries and peaches have very little. Pectin is “activated” by sugar and acid. Both need to be in your recipe to get the jam to set. A commercially produced jam sugar has the right amount of pectin added to it and it is an easy option for contrary fruits. Because we need a little more acid to make sure the pectin will set, we need to add lemon juice. It also helps cut the sweetness. Salt helps bring out the strawberry flavour.

Stir the jam over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. You will notice the mixture has a darker, glossy look now.

Turn the heat up to medium high. We need to boil the jam until it reaches a setting point. For this jam I used the traditional wrinkle test. I have found that when I use sugar with added pectin the jam will set up quickly. Boil the jam for 5 minutes. Get out one of the saucers you put in the freezer earlier. Spoon a small amount of jam onto the dish and pop it back in the freezer for 30 seconds. Get it out again and push your finger through it. If the surface has formed a skin and wrinkles when you push it around, it’s ready. If it’s still runny then boil for a further couple of minutes and test again until it’s done.

Turn off the heat. Keeping careful count of how many leaves you put in, stir the fresh basil leaves into the jam whole. My basil looks funny because it’s a small-leaved variety that I grow in a pot.

Leave them in for about 2 minutes until they are super wilted. Fish them out again. Pick up the lemon zest too. We only dip the basil in at the end because it is very pungent but also delicate. If we cooked the jam with the basil in it, the basil flavour would be destroyed. We want just a hint of fresh basil aroma and flavour with no bitterness. While the basil is steeping, carefully get the jars out of the oven and put them on the folded towel. Drain the lids.

Using a heatproof cup with a spout or a ladle carefully fill the hot jars with jam. Fill them up to the shoulder. This is where the rest of the jar joins the “neck.” Accept that there will be a bit of a dribbly mess.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean paper towel so that there are no bits of jam. It’s important that the rims are clean so a tight seal can be formed when the lid goes on.

Put the lids on the jars. You may need to hold the hot jars with a towel so you can screw on the lids. As the jam cools down it will shrink and so will the small amount of hot air in in the jar. This will vacuum the lid down. You will see (and hear) the lids pop down as they cool.

When the jars are cold wipe off any jam from the outside of the jars and store in the pantry for up to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening.

Use in place of store bought jam however you see fit. You might even make a scone or two

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Strawberry + Basil Jam


Prep Time : 15 +15 mins | Cook Time : 30 mins | Total Time : 1 hour | Difficulty : Moderate | Makes : approx. 5 cups

The sweet taste of summer strawberries captured with a hint of aromatic basil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilogram strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 strips of lemon peel
  • 750 grams pectin added sugar (I use Chelsea Jam Sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 6 fresh basil leaves

– If using metric cups, reduce volume measures by 1 tablespoon for every cup of dry or liquid ingredients – 

Equipment:

  • Large heavy bottomed saucepan or preserving pan
  • Heatproof measuring cup or ladle
  • 6 x one cup jam jars with lids
  • Small saucers

Directions:

First of all, we need to get all our equipment out and ready. Wash your jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse them. I always do one more than I think I will need just in case.

Put the oven on to 120C (250F). Put the jars inside – make sure they aren’t touching each other. We need to heat the jars above 100C for at least 10 minutes to sterilise them. I leave them in until I’m ready for them later so they get a good period of heating and I’m not rushing to get them done while the jam is cooking.

Pop the lids in a small saucepan of water and simmer them for 10 minutes. You can set this going while you do your other prep. Put a folded tea towel on the bench next to the stovetop. You will put your hot jars and lids on here when you’re ready to fill them. If you put them straight on the bench they can crack from the change in temperature or mark the benchtop. Put two or three small saucers or dishes into the freezer to chill.

I am using frozen strawberries today. I often end up with fruit in the freezer in large zip-lock bags waiting to be made into preserves especially towards the end of summer. At the moment there are peaches, plums and blackcurrants. I also am all for buying good quality frozen fruit if you can’t get fresh. You can’t get fresh gooseberries in a good quantity for love or money in NZ. Unless I steal them from my parents.

I like to quarter the large ones and halve the small ones. If they have been frozen they will break down a little more easily as they cook. Pop them in the pan with the lemon juice and lemon zest. Just take a couple of strips off the lemon with a vegetable peeler before you juice it.

Put the pan over a low heat and gently cook the fruit until it starts to break down. This can take up to 20 minutes. Now you need to decide how chunky you like your jam. If you want a super smooth jam with no pieces of fruit the easiest thing to do is cook the fruit until it’s soft and then give it a couple of turns with a stick blender. If you do this then retrieve your lemon peel before blending. If you like there to be a mix of fruity pieces and goo like I do then turn to your wooden spoon or potato masher. Mash the fruit or squish some of the pieces against the side of the pan with the spoon to make it pulpy.

When you have the chunkiness how you like it. Add the sugar and salt. I use Chelsea jam sugar for this recipe.

Fruits contain pectin which is what causes jams to set. Different fruits have different amounts of pectin. Plums and blackberries have a lot. Strawberries and peaches have very little. Pectin is “activated” by sugar and acid. Both need to be in your recipe to get the jam to set. A commercially produced jam sugar has the right amount of pectin added to it and it is an easy option for contrary fruits. Because we need a little more acid to make sure the pectin will set, we need to add lemon juice. It also helps cut the sweetness. Salt helps bring out the strawberry flavour.

Stir the jam over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. You will notice the mixture has a darker, glossy look now.

Turn the heat up to medium high. We need to boil the jam until it reaches a setting point. For this jam I used the traditional wrinkle test. I have found that when I use sugar with added pectin the jam will set up quickly. Boil the jam for 5 minutes. Get out one of the saucers you put in the freezer earlier. Spoon a small amount of jam onto the dish and pop it back in the freezer for 30 seconds. Get it out again and push your finger through it. If the surface has formed a skin and wrinkles when you push it around, it’s ready. If it’s still runny then boil for a further couple of minutes and test again until it’s done.

Turn off the heat. Keeping careful count of how many leaves you put in, stir the fresh basil leaves into the jam whole. My basil looks funny because it’s a small-leaved variety that I grow in a pot.

Leave them in for about 2 minutes until they are super wilted. Fish them out again. Pick up the lemon zest too. We only dip the basil in at the end because it is very pungent but also delicate. If we cooked the jam with the basil in it, the basil flavour would be destroyed. We want just a hint of fresh basil aroma and flavour with no bitterness. While the basil is steeping, carefully get the jars out of the oven and put them on the folded towel. Drain the lids.

Using a heatproof cup with a spout or a ladle carefully fill the hot jars with jam. Fill them up to the shoulder. This is where the rest of the jar joins the “neck.” Accept that there will be a bit of a dribbly mess.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean paper towel so that there are no bits of jam. It’s important that the rims are clean so a tight seal can be formed when the lid goes on.

Put the lids on the jars. You may need to hold the hot jars with a towel so you can screw on the lids. As the jam cools down it will shrink and so will the small amount of hot air in in the jar. This will vacuum the lid down. You will see (and hear) the lids pop down as they cool.

When the jars are cold wipe off any jam from the outside of the jars and store in the pantry for up to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening.

Use in place of store bought jam however you see fit.

Cook’s Notes:

  • You can omit the basil if you prefer
  • Be careful to follow all the sterilising instructions to make sure your preserves are safe
  • If you have different sized jars, that’s not a problem, just make sure you have enough jars to fit around 5 cups of jam and proceed with the recipe.
  • If you open a jar of jam and there is any mould growing on the surface discard the whole jar. Toxins can penetrate into the jam and scooping off the top will not remove them.
  • Jam will darken over time as it sits on the shelf – if the seal is tight when you open the jar and the surface of the jam is clean it is perfectly fine to eat.

 – Properly prepared jam will keep on the pantry shelf for up to 12 months. Once jars are opened store in the refrigerator. – 

© 2017 The Winsome Baker. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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7 thoughts on “The WB Larder: Strawberry + Basil Jam

  1. You’ve reminded me that I went out and bought jam sugar last week, so that I can make use of the blackberries sitting in the back of the freezer from months ago. (Our summer/autumn, here in the UK, obviously being opposite to yours, so that’s not quite as long ago as that sounds!) I shall get the blackberries out to defrost for a jam session tomorrow. 🙂 I’ve done a few batches of really good grapefruit marmalade using my housemate’s mum’s recipe, in the past – I love a recipe with a story! – but this will be my first jam.

    • I love surprises in the freezer! I always seem to forget i have rhubarb then get excited 😀 Blackberry will set up very firm on it’s own so you can use regular sugar if you want – just use the same proportions

      • Useful knowledge. 😀 I might not have enough of either jam or normal sugar anyway, now I think about it, so I might try a 50:50 blend.

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