Jam is terrifying. It is the zombie movie of spreads. It can become undead and grow a bacterium that will kill you. I hope you are excited to make jam now.
I swear this one is not so hard, or murderous. There’s no 10 minutes of boiling Kerr jars or air-drying or anything like that – it’s a quick easy jam that makes enough for right this minute and maybe the next two weeks if you don’t get too greedy. Store in the fridge and if you have too much for you, it makes a great for-no-special-reason gift.
Plus–it’s a little different: sweet, juicy strawberries and heady, fragrant basil combine for a versatile flavor pairing.
Strawberries have a similar flavor profile as tomatoes — no, really, next time try replacing strawberries for tomatoes in your favorite salsa, salad, or avocado toast — so it makes sense that strawberries and basil also couple well. (It works the other way too – forget strawberry pie, try a tomato pie!)
This jam can be relied on for a bit of savory sweetness in a sandwich or salad dressing. And of course it can be enjoyed in usual jammy ways – on buttered toast (my favorite dessert), PBJs, waffles, or pancakes, or stirred into muesli, hot cereal or smoothies.
The high heat is what helps this jam preserve the just-picked flavor of the strawberries – be sure to use sweet, flavorful berries and their freshness will stand through at the end.
- 1 1/2 pounds organic strawberries
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 or so basil leaves
- First put a plate in the freezer for the "frozen-plate test", which is used to determine when the jam is finished cooking. Put a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon and a large bowl nearby where you will be cooking.
- Rinse and hull the strawberries. Leave small to medium strawberries whole but cut larger ones in half or in thirds depending on their size.
- In a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized saucepan, mix together the water and sugar. Without stirring, bring the mixture to a boil over high heat until there are large bubbles boiling evenly across the surface - this should take about 5-6 minutes.
- Immediately add the strawberries and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly with the spatula.
- Take the plate from the freezer and scoop a small bit of jam onto it. Run your finger through it. For an average thickness, the jam should more or less hold its shape, with no or little pooling of juice.
- If you are happy with the consistency of the jam, remove the pan from the burner and use the spatula to scoop the jam into the bowl. Stir a few times to cool the jam down. Take the basil leaves in your fingers and swirl them through the jam about 6-10 times - don't overdo it or the basil flavor will be overwhelming.
- Press plastic wrap onto the jam's surface in order to keep a skin from forming.
- When the jam has completely cooled, store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Enjoy on buttered toast, pbj's, waffles or pancakes or stirred into muesli, hot cereal or smoothies, or for savory uses such as a sandwich spread or in salad dressings.