The second of an ongoing series of experiment with strawberry jam. See the first part here.
My starting point for this version was Paul Virant's recipe for Strawberry and Pinot Noir Jam from his cookbook The Preservation Kitchen, with a touch of Christine Ferber's methodology thrown in for good measure. Mr. Virant cites Ms. Ferber as an inspiration for his jams, so it makes a nice little circle of jammy happiness. Mr. Virant's exact recipe can be found here.
While I philosophically object to sharing an article that starts out with 'let's be honest, jam making is tedious...' this is the only site that has this recipe as far as I can find. Seriously, people, if you feel this way, just go buy some jam. Life's too short to make yourself do something you think is tedious for fun.
And, if you're interested in the Beer Jam (and who's not, really?), I found a correction here. Apparently, the first printing missed out on when to add pectin in the directions.
This strawberry jam recipe uses an entire bottle of wine.
Cooking with an entire bottle of wine at a time seemed a little intimidating, to tell you the truth. I don't usually fling around those quantities of alcohol with such wild abandon. It takes a moment to get comfortable with the idea.
I like wine. I like strawberries. And really, what's the worst that could happen? It turns out bad and I've wasted some strawberries and some wine and some time. Not such a tragedy, right?
So why not go for it? Why not, indeed.
I used a wine that my co-op was pushing as the end-all and be-all of summer-drinkin' reds: Tamas Double Decker Red 2009. They're not lying, folks. It's good - very berry, with a really nice smooth spicy finish and not a lot of tannins. Both Mr. Virant and Ms. Ferber suggest a light and fruity pinot noir, but the key criteria is really just fruit flavor that compliments strawberry and avoiding that mouth-pucker of a lot of tannin. This one was on sale (less than a tenner a bottle), and it was so good, I sent the British Guy back to snag me a case, so we got a case discount, too. Score!
I've taken Mr. Virant's recipe and used Ms. Ferber's methodology, so this takes 3 days. Most of this is totally hands-off, though, or you could use Mr. Virant's method and make this in two.
This is not your children's jam. In fact, it's hard to even compare this with jello-like strawberry jams that are over-sugared and rubbery, it is such a different experience. It is a sophisticated and grown-up preserve to use on special treats to make them phenomenal.
I bet it would go great with cheese and wine. In fact, that's my evening sorted.
SUMMARY, Jam #2:
Time: 3 days, most of that hands-off
Volume of berries: 4 pounds strawberries
Volume of Product: 6, 1/2 pint jars
Flavor: Very adult, deep complexity. Tangy, not sweet. Definitely not for PB & J.
Color: Ruby red.
Set: Very soft set. Basically loads of fruit suspended in thick syrup. The tremendous volume of fruit saves this from falling into the runny category, but it ain't spreadable, if that's what you're after.
Thoughts: This is a special-purpose jam - drizzled on ice cream, served with some fine cheese, used as an accompaniment to a roast, paired with a deep flourless chocolate cake or pound cake. Stirred into some bubbly. All those would be divine. Everyday uses, not so much. Don't even think about putting this on your morning breakfast toast...it needs to be paired with a little richness to shine.
Jump to part 3, or continue on for the recipe.
Strawberry and Red Wine Jam.
Makes 6, 1/2 pint jars plus a little extra. Yields may vary depending on produce.
4 pounds strawberries (1815 g)
1 pound white sugar (454 g)
1 750 ml bottle light red wine
1 lemon, juiced
You will also need a large non-reactive glass or metal bowl, a large pot, and 6-7 sterilized 1/2 pint canning jars, lids and bands.
Gently rinse the strawberries and allow to air dry. Remove the stem and hull from each berry. Quarter berries larger than 1 1/2 inches (ca. 4 cm), and halve berries larger than 3/4 inch (2 cm). For berries smaller than 1/2 inch (1.25 cm), leave whole.
Toss the strawberries with the sugar, red wine and lemon juice, and leave to macerate for 12 hours or overnight. If it is cool, you can leave them on the counter. If it is warm, refrigerate.
Pour the strawberry-wine mixture into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Give it a good stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then carefully pour into a large heat-proof bowl and refrigerate overnight. When cold, cover with a sheet of waxed paper, making sure that the berries are all fully submerged in the juice. The strawberry-wine mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days at this stage.
Strain out the strawberries and transfer the strawberry-wine syrup to a large pot. Boil this liquid over medium-high heat until it is reduced by half in volume and reaches 215 degrees F, which takes 25 to 30 minutes. I used a chopstick as a dipstick to determine when I hit half the volume, and it coincided pretty much with when I achieved the temperature.
Add the drained strawberries back to the pot. This will foam tremendously at the start. Stir the pot regularly to disperse the foam, and after the first several minutes, it should subside. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 212 degrees F, which takes from 12 to 15 minutes.
When the jam hits 212 degrees F, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
[In case you're wondering, these temperatures are indeed correct. Mr. Virant explains that with the low volume of sugar in these recipes, it is very hard to reach more typical setting temperatures and the fruits would wind up tasting overcooked if you did.]
Fill up the canning jars according to proper canning protocols, making sure that the strawberries are distributed evenly. Process according to your favorite method.
Store in a cool, dark place. Lasts up to year.