When I’m cooking in the kitchen, whether it be a simple dinner or an elaborate dessert, I tend to imagine myself a culinary artist. As I spin the spatula around the hot pan, questions dance through my mind as to the best way to paint an edible picture. What color would go best on this canvas? Green you say? Ok then, let’s toss in some spinach. You’re feeling the need for texture to add a little more interest? Would cooked brown rice suffice? I completely understand. the subject’s not spicy enough for you; a pinch of crushed red pepper it is. With a little give and take, the perfect work of taste-tempting art is almost always achieved.
I especially feel this way when making strawberry jam. One simple ingredient change can make a subtle taste difference in your spread that can alter the entire mood of the mouth feel completely. I make large vats of this fruit flavored treasure every spring and each time I make it, I like to experiment a bit with different flavors. Last year I used pomegranate juice. This year I took a bit of a different turn and tried champagne, oranges and a hint of mint. And then for fun, I made another batch and substituted red wine for the champagne. It was amazing how similar and yet, how unique the two jams were. It just goes to show how a simple artistic alteration of one key ingredient can make all the difference.
If you’re as heavy into strawberry season as we are here, then I’m guessing you’re ready to can some jam. Let’s do this.
Start out with a large pile of freshly picked strawberries. Here’s a bucket of ours from a recent visit to the pick your own farm.
Roughly chop them up and dump the lot into a dutch oven along with a little champagne, some fresh orange juice and, if desired, a few sprigs of mint. It’s not in the picture below, but I also added the zest into that fruity mess for added citrus punch.
Heat up the lot of it, covered, until the strawberries just begin to bubble. It’s at this point that you’ll remove the cover, drop the heat down a click and add in some sugar and lemon juice. You should also plan to fish those mint stems back out and dispose of them in a way that works best for you.
Let the jam cook down for a good 45 minutes to an hour uncovered, until you can feel it beginning to thicken when you slide your spoon across the bottom of the pan. I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring this out just by sound and sight, but if you need an extra aid, simply freeze a plate for a minute or two, drop a little of the hot jam on it and place back in the freezer for a subsequent minute. If, when you pull it out, it’s the consistency you like, then you’re done. If not, cook a bit more until it is.
At this point you’re ready to fridge, can and eat your fruit filled masterpiece. Spread on toast, add to desserts or create a new and delicious way to enjoy it. Whatever you do, just be sure you save a knife’s worth for me. What’s your favorite way to make and eat strawberry jam?
Champagne Strawberry Jam
Yield: 4 small ball jars worth of jam
Total Time: 2 hours
8 Cups Strawberries, Cut into Chunks
1 Naval Orange, Juiced and Zested
1 Cup Champagne*
5-6 Mint Springs (Optional)
2 1/2 Cups White Sugar
1 Lemon, Juiced
1/2 tsp Salt
* For red wine jam simply substitute 1 cup of red wine in place of the champagne.
Drop the strawberries, orange juice/zest and the champagne into a large dutch oven. Heat up, covered, on medium high until the strawberries just begin bubble.
Uncover, turn the heat down to medium and roughly smash the berries with a potato masher. Add in the sugar, lemon juice and salt.
Let cook uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the mixture begins to thicken. You can test it by placing a plate in the freezer for a couple minutes, bringing it out and dropping a spoonful of jam on it and then placing the plate back in the freezer for another minute or two. If the consistency looks right when you pull it back out, you're good to go.
Place in a closed jar in the fridge for a maximum of one month or hot water can to preserve for later use.
Based on 60 Servings
Calories 42.5, Total Fat 0.1 g, Saturated Fat 0.0 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g, Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg, Sodium 19.7 mg, Potassium 38.7 mg, Total Carbohydrate 10.2 g, Dietary Fiber 0.5 g, Sugars 9.4 g, Protein 0.1 g
I am so jealous of that bowl of strawberries-we here in northern WI are many weeks from anything growing outside-ugh! anne
YUM! And I can’t believe that it’s been a year since your pomegranate jam post–I remember that post as if it were yesterday. Where does the time go????
Anyway, your first picture had me drooling right off the bat–nice photography work on this one!
Laura in Cancun says
Oh wow, I had no idea jam was so easy!!! Or that you could use champagne and mint 🙂 Clever
But you are a culinary artist! | always enjoy coming to visit and see what you have posted. Always very temping; this is one jam I intend to try. Your photos are always perfection.
Laura @ WyldeThyme says
We are still several weeks away from enjoying strawberries up here. We are planning a family ‘jam’ day, we are really looking forward to it! I will definitely try the champagne, very tasty!
I love the photo of the bowls of strawberries. It’s still a little early for strawberries here, but it’ll be here before we know it. There’s nothing better than fresh fruit season – I love them all!
there’s nothing better than a perfectly-ripe strawberry and no better way to capture that than to turn it into jam. lovely!
Jen M O says
I have never made jam. I think it seems so intimidating. I’ve had a friend show me with a pressure cooker and decided to wait to try making it. I like your way better. I love homemade jam especially strawberry.
Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef says
Hi Julie, lovely to meet you! I love making new food loving friends!
Jam season starts next month in the north of Australia where I live and I can’t wait. I will never buy store bought jam again if I can help it. It’s easy to make and tastes so much better than store bought.
I’m going to try your recipe!
Hey just wondering what size jars you used? 4oz? 8oz? I’m guessing 8oz? Just because you said small, I want to make a huge batch so I was wondering