It may well be the beginning of September but the shops are still full of summer, well local strawberries and that spells summer to me. They are selling them at low, low prices to clear them fast before they reach that point of no return and end up as a slightly unappealing mushy mess that nobody wants to buy.
Although I have made lots of strawberry jam in the past, I usually like to do something a bit different with them in preserves; there has been my Very Berry Jam way back in 2008 and in 2012 Strawberry and Elderflower Jam. This time was no different, I couldn’t just throw together a basic strawberry jam, way too boring for me but exactly what Idgy likes, tough, this was for me, I’ll make her the straight stuff with the next bargain berries.
For me I decided to come over all Italian and add some Mediterranean goodness to the brew. While pepper has long been used to bring out the sweetness and depth of flavour in strawberries (my Dad always ground black pepper on his strawberries, much to the disgust of us sugar fiend kids, and he wasn’t even Italian, he just liked the taste) I decided to add some Balsamic Vinegar as well to enhance the flavour even more.
Now what else speaks of summer sunshine, Tuscan fields and that all important taste of Italy? Basil, it has to be basil.
So basically this is a strawberry jam with balsamic vinegar, black pepper and basil.
It is the perfect combination for a jam that is so easy to make and will keep you thinking of summer sunshine long into the coming winter months when skies are grey, hands chilly and hearts longing for the next summer to come.
- 1 kilo/2¼ lb fresh strawberries
- 1 kilo/2¼ lb jam sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
- Wash strawberries just before using so they don't absorb too much water and hull them removing stalks and leaves, half if they are large.
- Warm the strawberries and sugar in a large heavy based pan over moderate heat to dissolve the sugar.
- All the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, pepper and orange zest and stir well.
- Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for approximately 20 minutes or until the setting point has been reached (test with a well chjilled saucer, a spoonful should form a skin and wrinkle when you touch it after a couple of minutes).
- Toss in the basil and stir well before spooning into jars.
- Seal jars.
- You should get 4 jars from this recipe.