I saw this jam the morning that Food in Jars posted it, and knew I had to go out and make some. I planned to go to the farmer’s market that morning, so I added some strawberries to my list. I thought the addition of the lime would be a nice touch; as an added bonus, I already had some home-grown limes that I friend had given me. Mmmm, Strawberry-lime vanilla jam. Thanks Food in Jars, for the inspiration!
A jam with no added pectin. Adding pectin helps the jam set up, but necessitates more sugar, which dilutes the natural flavor of the fruit. I’ve done a couple other jams with no added pectin: Vanilla Scented Lemon Verbena Marmalade and Old-fashioned Raspberry.
This strawberry jam perfectly captures those ripe summer strawberries into a sweet spreadable jam with a deep rich flavor from the vanilla. And, the tartness of the lime just gives it that right kick. I left the strawberries in quarters to make a pretty presentation. However, for a more spreadable jam, chop the berries into smaller pieces. I also left the vanilla bean pods in the jam because I thought the presentation was nice. But, in my instructions, I recommend you remove them, just for ease of use.
The other thing I love about this jam is the small batch idea. I often shy away from making jam because it’s generally made in such large quantities. That’s great if you live on a farm and you really are preserving the harvest for those cold dreary winter months. But, here in sunny SoCal, in my little house, I don’t really have to worry about that. And, since I don’t really even go to the trouble of actually canning my preserves, I have to eat them all or give them all away pretty quickly.
Use this as a topping for vanilla ice cream or, spoon some over ricotta for breakfast. Of course, it’s great on toast. Little tarts could be made with it. Strawberry chicken could be really good. Or, mix a spoonful into a simple vinaigrette, and drizzle it over a spinach salad with chopped strawberries.
Strawberry-Lime Vanilla Jam
Adapted from Food in Jars
1 quart (approximately 4 cups) strawberries, chopped
2 cups sugar, divided use
2 vanilla beans, split and pulp scraped from inside the beans
1 lime, zested and juiced
Place the berries into a large bowl, and mix with 1 cup of sugar, the vanilla beans and vanilla seeds. Allow the berries to macerate for at least 2-3 hours. A thick, rich sugary syrup will develop. (The berries could be used as is at this stage for a dessert topping or a fruit salad.)
Prepare three half pint jars.
Pour macerated strawberries into a large pot and add the remaining cup of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until the jam reaches 220 degrees on your candy thermometer. Add the lime zest and juice in the final 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the vanilla bean pods.
To test for doneness: dip a cool metal spoon into the hot fruit. Immediately lift it out and away from the steam and turn it horizontally. At the beginning of the cooking process, the liquid will drip off in light, syrupy drops. Try again a minute or two later, and the drops will be heavier. The jam is done when the drops are very thick and two run together before falling off the spoon.
Transfer cooked marmalade to clean ready jars. I don’t actually go through the canning process, but if you would like to do so, please follow the instructions from the USDA’s National Center for Home Food Preservation or the official site from the makers of Ball jars.