We bought two flats of strawberries for my 9 year old boy’s school as a fund raiser. For those who do not know, two flats is a whole LOT of of strawberries! We immediately gave a forth of them away. This allowed us to store the rest in our refrigerator until we could deal with them. Time was ticking. Last year we ended up throwing away half of our purchase due to spoilage.
So what to do with a mountain of strawberries that just want to turn to mush? Make strawberry jam of course! We tried this last year with no success. Apparently the couple recipe and canning books books left some parts out. So my wife and I turned to that miracle of “How To” instruction: Youtub
I found a video on the making a Basalmic Strawberry Jam. I like basalmic vinegar but I was not sure about it in a strawberry jam. The ladies in the video seemed pretty confident about it and part of the reason for cooking your own food is to try different and unique things. I did change a couple items though. I found a ‘white basalmic’ vinegar in the store to use. Most basalmic vinegar is made with a carmal food coloring and our daughter often has issues with different food additives / dyes. Next, we did not have any thyme but parsley in the garden. The thyme is just to give it some ‘green’ to make it healthy so I took a chance. It all went together in the pot and I followed their instructions just perfectly but the jam did not set. I ended up with a strawberry syrup mixture that tasted well but would probably only work on pancakes.
Next up was my wife. She found a recipe that used only honey and would ‘freezer set’. Now, it used a little honey (2 cups) but required a special low sugar pectin (found at Winn-Dixie if you are looking). Her batch did set up though so she got the win. However the kids panned it on taste. Not sweet enough.
I am not one to give up so easily (plus we still had half a flat of strawberries left at this point). I dug in and did some research on how to tell when your jam sets up. You need to get the mixture up to 220 degrees (or 8 degrees about the temperature water boils) and hold it there while water boils out of the mix. This takes a long time! I spent almost an hour slowly stirring the pot, hoping it would thicken up. There is the ‘back of the spoon’ test that I could never get to work right. I relied on the ‘plate in the freezer’ test. You put some of the hot jam on a plate then shove it into the freezer. If it thickens such that you can push it once it cools down, you are done.
I had much better success this time. The jam set up and can be spread onto the peanut butter sandwiches just fine. My daughter loves the taste of it too so that is a win! OK, the recipe calls for seven cups of sugar but I did swap out two cups for two cups of honey so it is a little healthier. I am sure that does not matter to her though.
So if you end up with a large pile of strawberries, give a try at making some basalmic strawberry jam. Do not worry if you will screw it up or not. You probably will. Keep trying though because that feeling of your little girl saying she likes it is very, very cool.