Jam is My Jam, aka, Put all the Summer Fruits in Jars Part 1: Easy Strawberry Lime Jam

Fresh strawberries picked by me!
Fresh strawberries picked by me!

I have always loved jam.  Actual jam.  Not jelly.  Jam.  Made with real fruit.  Spread on amazing bread.  Served with a scoop of ice cream.  I like it sweet, but I also like savory and sweet combinations, like Strawberry Jalapeño, or Mango Habaneros.  Despite this love affair, I have never really made jam, or canned anything on my own.  Because I am scared of canning.  But in the past year I have been dabbling more and more with the process (see my Raspberry and Turkish Honey Chia seed jam here, and my Meyer Lemon Marmalade here). And this year, we have been picking all the strawberries, and joined an all fruit CSA.  So we have fruit a go-go.  So I have decided to conquer my fear, and figure out this whole jam making thing.

Cooking down the strawberries, sugar, and lime.
Cooking down the strawberries, sugar, and lime.

And guess what?  Jam making is actually frighteningly easy, if you have the right tools, and you’re careful.  What follows is the first in a series of jam recipes I will be posting this summer.  I focus on making simple, low sugar, no pectin jams.  This one is pretty easy, and makes delicious, sweet, bright jam that is good on literally everything we have tried it on – ice cream, bread, sandwiches, and more.  Coming up soon, a blackberry basil jam, and a peach and cherry chile jam.

Strawberry Lime Jam

4 cups of fresh strawberries, quartered
1.5 cups of sugar
2 limes

Optional: 1 tablespoon of chia seeds

1. First, prepare your canning jars and canning tools.  You’ll need about 4 8 oz jars, or 1-2 pint size Mason Jars (these are inexpensive and can also be ordered through Amazon). I run my jars through the dishwasher on a sanitize cycle the night or morning before I make the jam, and then place the jars and rings on a cookie sheet and in a low, 200 degree oven until the jam is done and ready to be filled into the jars.
2. Add quartered strawberries to a large pot, along with the sugar.

Zesting the lime into the pot!
Zesting the lime into the pot!

3.  Zest one lime into the pot, and then halve both limes and juice them into the pot.
4.  Turn stove to a medium heat, and stir the sugar, strawberries, and lime.  They will make a lot of juice.
5.  Bring to a simmer, and allow to cook until the jam starts to thicken.  The longer you cook it, the darker and more roasted flavor you’ll get out of the berries.  If you wish for a brighter, tangier jam, just don’t cook it as long.  You can add some chia seeds to help thicken it once you turn the heat off, which adds a nutritional boost, but you can also let it cook down more and thicken.  It’s up to you, and I suggest you try it both ways!
6.  Prepare a large pot of boiling water, deep enough and wide enough to cover your jars, once filled.
7.  At this point, when the jam is approaching the thickness and flavor I want, I decide whether I am adding chia seeds or not.  If I am, I turn the heat off, and stir in my chia seeds.  If not, I proceed right to filling the jars.  If I do want to add the chia seeds, I stir them in quickly to avoid them clumping.  The chia seeds will help to thicken your jam.
8.  Use a canning funnel (with a wider mouth) to fill the hot jars, and then using a clean towel, seal the lids.

Getting ready to oh-so-carefully remove the jars from the water bath!
Getting ready to oh-so-carefully remove the jars from the water bath!

9.  Place jars in the boiling water, and boil for at least ten minutes.
10. Carefully remove from the hot water and set aside for 24 hours.
11.  Test your lids.  If any haven’t sealed properly, place that jar in the refrigerator or freezer, and eat within a month.

Raspberry, Turkish Honey, and Chia Seed Jam

imageOver the summer I fell in love with this Blueberry Chia Seed Jam recipe from Vegetarian Times.  I’ve also made this with blackberries, peaches, strawberries, and, now, raspberries.  While it works with all, it works best with berries.  This weekend I made Lemon Ricotta Pancakes that I topped with a bit of sweetened ricotta (basically cannoli filling, only not quite as sweet) and this raspberry jam and it was divine.  I use a bit more maple syrup, or in this case honey, than they specify, but not much more. I was playing with sweet, tart, and creamy with this brunch dish, and this jam was both sweet and tart with about 2-3 tablespoons of Turkish Honey instead of maple syrup.

I frequently use a bit of orange zest instead of vanilla bean, but its delicious with vanilla bean as well.  I wanted to shareimage this recipe because I think its very versatile, and I love that it has no added sugar.  I like getting to reuse old mason jars, like this one from oh-my-god-its-so-delicious Humble Bagel in New Orleans.   You can also make it in less than ten minutes, freeze it, or, as I do, use it up in less than a week.  Its super easy to make, and a lovely topping for just about anything from ice cream, to pancakes, to peach tarts.

 

What variations can you think of?