Fortunately, living in Florida means that fresh organic strawberries are easy to come by, even in November! I think the addition of vanilla pod seeds brings out the sweetness of the strawberries. And there is no need to use pectin with this recipe either.
Instructions for how to sterilize jars here.
2lb strawberries, preferably organic (washed)
2lb granulated sugar or caster (very fine) sugar, preferably organic (or 1½ lb turbinado sugar)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 vanilla bean
Small knob of butter
Jam jars, wax paper discs and lids if you are canning and storing your jam
The day before you wish to make the jam, hull and quarter the strawberries
Check for soft spots (which must be removed) and discard any berries with bruises or that are overripe
Place the strawberries into a large bowl with half the sugar
Combine well, cover and refrigerate overnight
The next day, place a small ceramic plate into the freezer to chill to test the setting point of the jam (I prefer this method to the thermometer)
Sterilise the jam jars (wash the jars, rinse and leave to drip-dry on a rack in the oven set to 275F
Leave them there for at least half an hour while you make the preserve
Pour the strawberries, their juice and any residual sugary juices into a very large heavy bottomed pan The mixture will rise as it boils
Add the remaining sugar and the lemon juice – stir
Slit the vanilla bean and lie flat. Now scrape the seeds out a knife or spoon and add to the strawberries
Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved
Bring the strawberries up to the boil, then boil hard until the jam reaches setting point
Check the setting point every ten minutes or so
To test the setting point take your saucer from the freezer and place a drop of jam onto the cold plate After a few seconds push the jam with your finger
If the jam surface wrinkles then it has reached setting point and is ready. If it slides about as a liquid, then it hasn’t reached setting point and boiled for a few more minutes before testing again
When setting point has been reached, turn off the heat
Stir in the butter and skim off any scum on the surface of the jam with a large spoon
Let the jam cool and thicken in the pan for ten minutes, so that the strawberries don’t all sink to the bottom in the jars
Carefully remove the sterilised jars from the oven with oven gloves
Avoid touching the insides of the jars with the oven gloves, which might introduce unwelcome bacteria
Stir the jam then pour it into the sterilised jars. Use a jam funnel, if you have one, to avoid spilling too much jam or pour it into a jug and then from the jug pour into the jars (that’s the way I do it)
Cover the top surface of the jam in each jar with waxed paper discs that have been cut to size – they should cover the entire surface of the jam
Press the wax disc down to create a complete seal
Cover with a lid while still hot, label and store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year
Alternatively, you can use the water canning method which is what I do
If you will be consuming the jam over the next few weeks, then there is no need to can or cover with wax paper. Simply store the jar in the fridge.
I prefer the use the non-thermometer method for making strawberry jam as that way you can easily test and set to the consistency you want.
Adding a knob of butter to the jam, helps to clarify it and helps eliminate the foam as it cools.
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