Monday, June 6, 2011

Balsamic Strawberry Jam with Thyme and Black Pepper

Summer is officially here.  The weather is hot, and sometimes muggy, schools are starting to go on break, and the pools are open.  But my favorite sign of summer is the abundance of fresh strawberries at the farmers market.  These berries are sweet, dark red when you cut into them, and make the whole car smell like strawberries on the drive home.  To keep a little bit of summer for this coming fall and winter, I decided to make jam out of some of my strawberry stash.

This jam is really delicious.  It's subtly herby from the thyme, with just a little bite from the pepper.  The balsamic vinegar gives it just enough acidity to keep the jam from being too sweet.  But even with all of these flavors, it's still the strawberries that take the forefront here, tasting just like summer.  The savory-sweet combination lends itself equally well to Saturday morning scones or spread with goat cheese on crostini for a quick appetizer.

Balsamic Strawberry Jam with Thyme and Black Pepper
adapted from Serious Eats

What's in it:

2 lbs 10 oz granulated sugar (about 7 cups)
3 lbs stemmed, hulled, and sliced strawberries (about 8 cups)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
1-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (1.75-ounce) package regular powdered fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon olive oil

If canning:

8 half pint-size canning jars with lids
boiling water canner
 How to make it:

Prepare canning jars.  Measure granulated sugar into large bowl. Set aside.

Combine crushed strawberries, balsamic vinegar, thyme and pepper in a heavy 6-8 qt saucepan or stockpot. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (boiling does not go down when the mixture is stirred) over high heat, stirring constantly. 

Add the sugar all at once, stirring until dissolved. Stir in olive oil (this helps prevent too much foam from forming). Stirring constantly, return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute. Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam from surface of jam.

Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove thyme sprigs as you come across them (using tongs would probably be a good idea, or you can pull them out with your fingers and fling them into the sink, yelling "Hot!  Hot!" the whole time like I did).

Wipe rims of the jars, cover with lids, and screw bands on until just barely tight. Place jars on rack in pot and cover completely with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, uncover pot, and allow jars to rest in water for five minutes. Remove jars from pot and allow them to rest undisturbed on countertop for six hours or overnight.


  1. Yum! We are enjoying lots of strawberry canning this year as well. I love your idea for a sweet and savory jelly.

  2. What about cutting the sugar in half and using low-sugar pectin?