Cooking by Feel: Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

To answer Elizabeth’s question, here in California we are blissfully deep in the middle of strawberry season. My Mystery Box provider has been bringing in flats of dead ripe organic strawberries for over a month now and I usually cannot resist an extra pint or two.

But when we got hit with an unseasonable heat wave here last week, I knew I had to do something with them right away, since I usually don't refrigerate my strawberries. I decided to try refrigerator jam, which is basically jam without the long, hot canning process. I did a little internet research, but found that most jams were way too sweet for me (usually matching sugar and fruit pound for pound.)

So I decided to experiment and I’m happy to report that the results were delicious and very easy! I had two nice jars of jam and a clean kitchen in less than one hour. One jar I kept as straight-up fruit jam. Into the other jar, I stirred in a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and two grinds from the pepper mill. This one I’ll serve with goat cheese, or perhaps as a glaze for pork or chicken.

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Besides the organic strawberries, I also used Trader Joe’s Organic Cane Juice Sugar, which I think added a slightly deeper flavor to the sweetness. Because I used less sugar, no pectin and a short cooking time, the jam was a little loose but still jammy enough to spread on my toast the next morning. I also plan on drizzling it over yogurt or ice cream.

Here’s the method:

Wash, hull and chunk 2 pints of very ripe organic strawberries (about 5 cups.) Combine in a heavy sauce pan (I used a Dutch oven) with 1 ½ cups of sugar and cook over a medium flame, mashing down on the fruit with a wooden spoon. Bring to a rolling boil and cook a few minutes more. Carefully spoon into very clean jars and let cool. Screw on lids and refrigerate.

Note: You can sterilize your jars by putting them in the oven. The jam should stay fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, if you haven’t eaten it all up by then.

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Related: Good Question: Thawing Berry Emergency
Plus... How to Find a Pick-Your-Own Strawberries Farm

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