Strawberry Basil Balsamic Jam

Strawberries and basil

Strawberries and basil

This Strawberry Basil Balsamic Jam captures the essence of fresh summer fruit. It is easy to make, it just takes some time.

You can store this jam in the refrigerator or you can process it using a safe water-bath canning method to store it in the pantry for up to 1 year.

Try to hide a jar in the back of the cabinet for a cold winter night in January or February or if you get snowed in. Pour it over some goat cheese, toast up some great bread, slice an apple and summer will come alive again in your mouth.

if you are one of those who think strawberry jam is far too sweet, try this one. The herbal element as well as the complex acid from the balsamic really takes a plain strawberry jam and turns it into an amazing treat.

Leaving the strawberries whole, this creates a delicious strawberry compote perfect for desserts, ice cream and goat or cream cheese. Puree the berries for a more jam like consistency.

Strawberry Basil Balsamic Jam

  • 1# fresh strawberries, stemmed and cleaned; cut as desired
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh basil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • pinch of kosher salt

Combine the berries with the sugar and large sprigs of basil. Stir well. Allow to marinade for 2 hours, stir often. You will notice the sugar will melt and there will be considerable syrup in the bowl.

Place this into a heavy bottomed stainless pot, add the balsamic vinegar, turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Then the mixture boils, skim any foam that forms on the surface.

Reduce the heat and simmer actively until the mixture thickens to the desired consistency, about 20 minutes.

Place a plate in the freezer. Once cold, pour a spoonful of hot jam onto the plate and replace it in the freezer until the jam cools.

Run your finger through the cooled jam. If it remains separated and does not run or run back together, it will maintain a jam like consistency. If not, keep cooking longer. Chill some down to really evaluate the consistency. Even if it remains a bit runny, it makes great syrup and dessert sauce. The flavor is so delicious!

Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars, cap and either process in a water-bath canner to store at room temperature or refrigerate once the jars cool.

I am not an expert canner so I would advise following expert advice on how to process your jars in a water-bath canner. I do know that if you use a pressure canner, you will have mushy fruit, so be sure to only use a water bath canner or a “granny bath” – I love that term!

This jam has a lovely complex flavor. We find it delightful on toast, over oatmeal or French toast, we even enjoy it on cheese platters with a glass of wine in the evening.

I packed some in small 4 ounce jars so they would be easy to take just a few servings on picnics, tailgating or on the go meals.Compotes on cheese platter

Make some before all the summer berries are gone! Those of you in climates just warming into your Summer, make this with the fresh berries, you’ll be glad you did!

A Pickling Primer – Tips and Hints to Making Perfect Pickles

A basket of goodies to pickle!

A basket of goodies to pickle!

Here is a pickling primer that will provide some basic guidelines on making your very own homemade pickles.

There are no recipes but here are some basic steps to follow to ensure your pickles turn out amazing.

I really want to encourage you to try making your own pickles!

Sterilize everything you use. Use the Sanitize button on your dishwasher or boil jars, utensils, and lids to ensure no bacteria will interfere with the pickles fermentation process.

While this step sounds intimidating, please be assured, it isn’t.

Wash towels you use in a bleach cycle, then heat dried.

If you don’t have a dishwasher, simply bring a very large pot of water to boil in the stove and then, using tongs, dip the jars, lids and seals, spoons etc. into the boiling water and let them sit until ready to use. (Turn the heat down to a low simmer once it boils). It is not necessary to cover the pot but you can if you like, to control the amount of humidity in the room.

Pickling Hints and Tips

  • Select perfect produce. No blemishes or scars, cracks, avoid bruised food.
  • Gently scrub produce to remove garden debris and lurking insects. Soak for 30 minutes in water that has 1/2 cup salt per gallon.
  • Do not trim or cut produce for the soaking step, soak them whole. Remember, produce can float so move it around some while it is soaking.
  • Placing a plate on top will help hold the items under the water.
  • For cucumbers, trim 1/4 inch from the blossom end only. It contains an enzyme that can make pickles mushy.
Pickled beets

Pickled beets

  • Use plain white or apple cider vinegar. You need 5-7% acidity.
  • Sugar is used to counteract the bitterness of the vinegar and salt. If you must substitute, experiment to ensure you like the flavor of the brine. Personally, I don’t care for artificial sweetener.
  • Be sure to wipe the rim of the jars after filling to ensure a good seal.

    Pickling Jars with wire bales and silicone or rubber seals

    Pickling Jars with wire bales and silicone or rubber seals

  • If canning, follow directions exactly. Take a class to learn the safety features.
  • Always use a water bath canner, NEVER a pressure canner! A pressure canner will turn all of your pickles to complete mush. Ew, who likes mush?
  • Pickles will keep for up to 12 months in the refrigerator. I don’t bother to process my jars, just refrigerate them.
  • Use a non iodized salt. Using table salt with iodine will make the brine cloudy and leave an off bitter taste. Pickling salt or Kosher salt works well.
  • If your pickles become slimy or have pink floaties and bubbles,  don’t taste them, just throw them away. These are signs the pickles have become contaminated with something. It could be yeast or bacteria but either way, don’t eat it. This is why it is so important to have very clean equipment, jars and hands when pickling.
  • All the pickles recipes found on Spoon Feast are for small batches and are ready to eat typically within a day or two. But, they continue to improve with age.

About Recipes:

Try pickling something this summer! Please let me know how it goes.

If you have any questions, I’m here to help, just ask in the comments below.

If you have a Perfect Pickle Tip please share below!

Pickled Turnips

Pickled Turnips