The strawberries are here! Hurray!
I know... technically I could get strawberries anytime I want, but I can't be bothered with the softball-sized mega strawberries they import from Mexico for most of the year. Sure, they may look gorgeous and smell gorgeous, but they taste like... water. Bletch.
That's why I got positively giddy when the Twitterverse started buzzing about this year's crop of Ontario strawberries. These, my friends, are strawberries worthy of adoration - tiny little ruby-red morsels, with an intense strawberry flavour and just the right balance of tartness and sweetness. Complete and utter perfection.
For the past week and a half, I've been in strawberry heaven. I've been eating them by the handful, mixing them into yogurt, baking them in tarts, scattering them on salads, and macerating them with liqueur.
To try to stretch out this year's strawberry season by just a few more months, I decided to make some strawberry jam. Not just any ol' jam, either... this is a blend of strawberries accented with tart lemons and aromatic lemon thyme, inspired by a recipe originally posted on Yummy Supper.
I can't even begin to tell you how amazing this jam is, so you'll just have to try it out for yourself... with proper local strawberries, of course.
A note on timing: you'll notice this jam requires two long stretches in the fridge to allow for flavours to mellow and pectin to develop, which means it's prepared over the course of two days (well... one and a half, really, but who's counting?). I find the easiest way to deal with this is to start the jam in the evening of the first day, then simmer it briefly first thing the following morning, and then finish up the jam when I get home in the afternoon... it fits perfectly into my work schedule, and it lets me feel like I'm doing something productive with my weeknights.
Strawberry and Lemon Thyme Preserves
Inspired by Yummy Supper
1 basket strawberries, washed and hulled (~3 cups)
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2-3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
2 ½ cups sugar
Cut the lemon in to paper-thin slices (a mandolin is best for this, but a very sharp knife and a steady hand will do just as well). Remove and discard any pits.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the lemon slices, and blanch for 5 minutes - this will remove the bitterness, and will also help soften them up. Drain and set aside.
Once the lemon slices are cooled to room temperature, combine them with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for about 10 hours or overnight to let the flavours meld.
Scrape the mixture into a preserving pan (if you don't have a preserving pan, a wide heavy-bottomed stainless steel saucepan will do just as well) and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes. Return the mixture to its bowl, cover, and place in the refrigerator to macerate for another 8-10 hours.
Strain the solids out of the mixture and set aside. Pour the syrup into the preserving pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue cooking on high heat for about 15 minutes or until thickened, skimming off foam and stirring occasionally as you go. Test the jam's set using the cold plate test (or, if you've got a handy-dandy thermometer, cook to 220F) - if it's too runny, continue cooking for another 5 minutes and test again, repeating this process until you're satisfied with the set.
Meanwhile, separate the strawberries from the remaining solids. Using a wooden spoon, mash the strawberries into rough chunks. Finely chop the lemon slices and thyme.
Once the jam reaches the desired consistency, stir in the mashed and chopped solids. Still working over high heat, return the mixture to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally and skimming off foam.
After five minutes, remove the mixture from the heat. Immediately ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars and, if desired, process in a hot water water bath for longer-term storage. (This jam makes a small enough batch that it can just be stored in the fridge, as long as you plan on eating it within 3 months or so)
Hi! My name is steph and I found your through foodgawker... I'm hosting a jam exchange and thought you might be interested :) https://stephchows.blogspot.com/2010/07/2nd-annual-jam-exchange.html
This sounds too easy to be true. And man, does the thought of it make my mouth water! I've never tried making preserves, but this convinces me. Love this recipe, and I'm hosting a linky party on my blog tomorrow (all about strawberries) and would LOVE to see this recipe included. Join!
lissla lissar says
I'm going to try the strawberry/lemon thyme combination in freezer jam today. I'll let you know how it goes.
Thanks for all the lovely comments, everyone.
Rachel Joyce, I'm not planning on selling any of my jams because I tend to make very small batches, and also because they're almost never hot-water processed (we just keep it in the fridge, since it usually gets eaten long before it gets a chance to spoil). I'll let you know if that changes, though! That said, I think you'd be pleasantly surprised at how easy jam-making can be.
wannafoodie, I'm with you on preserving all that summery goodness. We already have a freezer full of rhubarb because I can't imagine going most of the year without it!
Lastly, I totally love your blog too, Rosy, so I guess the feeling is mutual! :)
Looks beautiful! Can't wait to try this. Thanks for your comment today. I love your blog and so glad I found it.
This sounds as great as when you teased us with it on twitter! I will absolutely have to try it, as I so want to bottle/can/freeze/etc a bit of our wonderful summers to brighten up the cold fall and endless winter days.
What a unique combination. Lovely blog and pictures.
Cristina @ TeenieCakes says
This looks great...and what's better than homemade using fresh? I've been toying with the idea of trying my hand at preserves, even just rcvd a book on it. I believe you've inspired me to give it a try!
Rachel Joyce says
Every June in PA my Ma would take us strawberry picking and we would make preserves for the year, so thanks for jogging that memory. I LOVE the flavors here, so if you are ever selling some let me know!
Sounds really lovely!
denise @ quickies on the dinner table says
Wow! Your jam looks almost jewel like! Just beautiful!
I agree about big, beautiful tasteless strawberries - bleecccccchhh!!! I've had tiny, knubbly, wild strawberries only once so far, picked straight off the plant and I still can't look at supermarket strawberries and not sigh with longing....
penny aka jeroxie says
Brilliant. I make quince jam and you make strawberries!