Strawberry and vanilla jam
( MAKES 1-1.2kg jam )
Photo by Michael Craig
I don't make jam often, but at this time of year when berries and, later in summer, plums, are in abundance, it's hard to resist cooking them into a sweet, sticky spread. It reminds me of that Sound of Music song about a few of your favourite things - tea with bread and jam. If you've made the jam, it's even more satisfying.
To make jam, you boil fruit and sugar until it thickens. It helps to have jam-making sugar, which is high in pectin, although it's not essential. There are some great recipes out there for healthier jams made with chia seeds, but I've kept things simple and seasonal and gone with one of my favourites - strawberry. I've added the seeds from a vanilla pod. Heilala Vanilla, a great New Zealand company, produces some of the plumpest and fragrant vanilla pods available. Jam makes a great gift - simply tie some sort of twine or
string or ribbon around a jar, or add some paper to the top and attach it with a rubber band.
Sterilising the jars to store the jam in is the only slightly fiddly part. Wash the jars well in hot soapy water then dry them in a low-heat oven to sterilise them.
- Clean the strawberries with a damp paper towel. Add to a medium-sized pot with the vanilla seeds and the sugar.
- Bring to a medium heat. Squash the strawberries slightly with a wooden spoon and bring up to a simmer.
- Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, before reducing the heat to very low. Let it simmer very gently for about 10 minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Turn heat off and allow it to sit for another 5 minutes.
- Spoon into your sterilised jars and leave to cool completely.
- Seal with a lid and keep in the fridge. It should keep for about a week.