Preserved: Perfect Strawberry Jam


For many canning enthusiasts, strawberry jam is the first thing they make for the season. Ripe, ruby-red summer strawberries are impossible to resist at the farmers market, yet once at home they last maybe two days before they start to wrinkle, mush, and mold. Could there be a more perfect fruit for home preserving?

Google "strawberry jam recipe" and you will come up with about a billion results. But not all of them will yield stellar jam. In the next few weeks, I'm going to offer up a few of my favorite strawberry-based recipes, but to start, let's stick with the basics.

What makes perfect strawberry jam? Obviously, you need to start with gorgeous strawberries. This is not the time to use those refrigerated supermarket two-for-the-price-of-one packs (then again, is it ever time to use those?). For perfect strawberry jam, it's essential to use the best farm stand strawberries you can find. Next, you want to add a modest amount of sweetener. I like to use a combination of sugar and honey because I love the hint of fragrance and flavor the honey adds.

Finally, it comes down to a matter of technique. I like to pulse my strawberries a few times in the food processor because I'm lazy because it yields even chunks. A small pat of butter thrown into the pot discourages foaming. If you get the dreaded fruit float (when the jam separates in the jars and all the fruit floats to the top, leaving clear jelly at the bottom) don't worry. Gently shake or roll the jars every 30 minutes or so as they cool to redistribute the strawberries.