Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Amazing Black Pepper Strawberry Jam or Mrs. Ingalls, I Am Not!


 My dream life requires me to have an open pantry lined with jars of  glassy preserves and shelves of  dill garlic pickles and canned red heirloom tomatoes. And last but not least; fresh honey.There is something about that vision of neatly stacked, colorful jars that makes me feel so orderly, so secure, so well taken care of. That same dream also has loaves of fresh, warm bread coming out of the oven and cookies on the counter. Did I mention the goats in the yard and the free range chickens? Lots of dogs and cats would be good and kids. I like kids. Oh, a horse, please, too. A few bah-bahs- a few moo-moos- by God, just get me the ranch.

Well, the baking I' m good at. No problems with yeast or sugar in this house. Except the eating of it, way too often. But a pressure cooker in this house? Science fiction to me. And a thermometer? I struggle with them every year when I make fudge. Usually it turns out great, but sometimes I get a batch of hard flint. And canning? I think the warnings of botulism always kept me from trying. Seriously. I don't like lighting matches either. My mom put the fear of God in me when it came to matches. Probably because she smoked when I was a child. So mom, I still can't light a match, thanks to you! I use one of those lighter things where you press a button. I can't even flick the Bic.




I've always wanted to preserve things but it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. However there are plenty of recipes out there that don't require canning or boiling or thermometers. And given that strawberry season is ending I searched for my old recipe from Gourmet, so I could make this easy, no fail, strawberry jam. It is so full of strawberry goodness and has that hidden, can't put your finger on it, taste. And if I can make it, so can you! But you, whoever you are, probably make canned jams. In any case, you will still love this because it is a glorious, ambrosial jam. No canning, no thermometers, no set test needed. Just a clock, a pot, and some ripe strawberries!


Strawberry jam like this is special. Yes, you can tell a difference from Smuckers and I love Smuckers. But this is so fresh, and if you are like me you will leave more whole pieces in your self made jam. It is good over goat cheese or cream cheese. I do use it with peanut butter and I've used it as a filling in cakes. As an ice cream topping-you bet and for biscuits, well, that makes my mouth water. Let me know what you use it for. And by all means just make it. You won't be sorry. And if the thought of black pepper scares you, just leave it out. However, I'll tell you that everyone loves this, just the way it is. So get over your fear of jam making, because within 1/2 hour this glorious jam can be yours!




Strawberry Black Pepper Jam

2 c hulled, washed strawberries (some cut in quarters, halves and wholes)

1 1/2 c sugar
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T water
1 t freshly ground black pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a deep pot. Bring slowly to a boil. (Really. Don't let this boil over or you won't think this is so easy.)  After it comes to a rolling boil, let it boil for 15 minutes. (Here in the mile high I let it boil about 17 minutes and that is not scientific but the set point of jam is 225 so you can check it if you want. There is also a cool saucer test if you like, but I've never tried it.) Stir the mixture here and there. You will see scum. It is that foamy stuff. Under it is the glistening red juice. Skim the scum so your jam will be pretty. 


After 15 minutes, remove from heat. Let cool. Jam will thicken on cooling and when placed in the fridge. After it has cooled, spoon into your nice clean jar. This keeps at least a month in the coolness of your fridge-but it won't last that long!




Don't miss these:

Dried Fruit Salami
Avocado Corn Soup
Quick Chocolate Cake


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22 comments:

  1. The time has come for me to try the balsamic with the strawberries. And with black pepper no less! Fabulous jam Abbe! You keep practicing with the jam and maybe the ranch will appear...jaja

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  2. Goats? Free range chickens? Well, you've already got the free range rabbits, so you're on your way! This jam looks terrific. I really don't preserve, and need to start. Once I do, though, I'm sure I'll have shelves and shelves of stuff - that's one of the reasons I haven't done it. But with recipes like this, do I have an excuse? But I'll let you keep the rabbits. ;-)

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  3. Very funny, John! This is one jam I've had success with, so try it! Free range rabbits? I'm not sure the rabbit catcher will see the humor, but I sure do! You have me rollin' at this!

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  4. Your strawberry jam looks marvelous, Abbe.

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  5. Abbe: The balsamic vinegar and black pepper are excellent twists in a classic. The jam looks so yum and interesting!

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    1. Denise, they are good twists, too! Hope you had a great trip!

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  6. Lovely jam - and lovely story. I love the way your write. Have a great weekend.

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  7. Thanks Tricia. The writing comes easy to me as does the cooking. It's the photos I have a hard time with! I am so ready for the weekend. My friend's 16 year old daughter is coming over on Saturday and we are making a Mexican feast. She wanted to cook with me. How sweet is that?

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  8. Oh, yeah, I bet this tastes terrific! Nothing beats homemade. I need to get over my fear of canning and give this a shot :)

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    1. That's how I am too, Liz. But this works and is easy.

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  9. I can work a mean candy thermometer, but I don't want to mess around with processing jams and the like. It scares me too much. I'm all for making this delightful jam and eating it as soon as possible :)

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    1. Laura, this jam is not scary. You will like it, I promise!

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  10. Wowieeeee, these look AMAZING!

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    1. Try it Cquek! It is amazing. Thanks for visiing!

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  11. Replies
    1. Thanks Anita! It is yummy. And I'm so happy you visited! :)

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  12. Your black pepper strawberry jam sounds amazing. What a great way to preserve the flavors of the summer. :)

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    1. And a quick way, too Amy. I know you will like this. It is right up your alley!

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  13. Just mouthwatering...looks delicious!

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  14. Thanks Kalyan! It is mouthwatering and sweet and delicious!

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