Strawberry Basil Jam

Strawberry season in Ohio is short-lived, so when the berries are ripe, there is no time to waste. My plan was simple: make my way to the farmers market early in the morning, and buy at least 3 quarts of the juiciest, sweetest berries I could find, run home and make some jam.

In the past, I’ve had problems with the jelling process. Some fruits produced beautiful results, while others needed a boost. I began adding pectin, but didn’t like the  artificial consistency that resulted. Then I found a wonderful book to help me navigate through the process, The Blue Chair Fruit Jam Cookbook, by Rachel Saunders.

Recipe for Strawberry Basil Jam
adapted from
The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

yields approximate 6-7 8 oz. jars
4 lbs. hulled large strawberries
2-1/2 lbs. white cane sugar
7 oz. strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fresh Basil to taste

Strawberries, sugar and lemon juice macerate overnight in the refrigerator covered for 24 hours.

Next day, place into kettle, cook over high heat skimming off the foam as it bubbles.  Place 3 spoons into the freezer. You will use them later to test the thickness of the jam.

The foam never seems to end, but it will eventually. Keep skimming!

Stir and scrape the bottom frequently to prevent sticking

When the jam appears shiny and thickened, turn off heat and test for proper consistency. Remove one of the spoons from the freezer. Place a small amount of jam onto the spoon and place back into the freezer for about 3 minutes. Check for doneness by tilting the spoon to see how quickly the jam runs. If it is not ready, continue cooking a few more minutes, and check again. When you have reached the right consistency,  turn off the heat and do not stir.  Carefully skim off any existing foam. Add a few sprigs of basil and allow to steep for a minute or two, then remove the sprigs and discard.

Pour into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4″ of room at the top, wipe the rims clean, and attach the lids.

It is now time to process the jars, either by submerging them in a water bath for 15-20 minutes, or by using the technique recommended by, The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook of placing them on a baking sheet into a preheated 250F oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the jars and set them onto a drying rack to sit undisturbed overnight at room temperature. They will seal as they cool, but test them the next day to make sure there is a slight curve in the middle of the lid, indicating a proper seal. If any did not seal, store those jars in the refrigerator.

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