As with all of his jams, chef Stefano Frigerio of Copper Pot Food Co. says the key is to taste the strawberries and adjust the amount of sugar accordingly. If the berries are fresh, local, perfectly ripe and very sweet, reduce the sugar to 1 1/2 cups. If they are particularly tart, perhaps out of season or from far away, you might need to increase the sugar to 2 1/2 cups.
Keep in mind that this jam has a loose consistency.
Enough vanilla beans are used to make this an expensive recipe. You might find better prices for them online or at Penzeys stores in Rockville and Falls Church.
Yield: 8-ounce jars (or fifteen 4-ounce jars)
- 6 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut in half
- 12 vanilla beans, slit lengthwise with a sharp knife (see headnote)
- 2 cups sugar, more or less to taste (18 ounces)
Combine the strawberries, slit vanilla beans and sugar in a large bowl. Mix well and let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes or until a puddle of juice forms at the bottom of the bowl.
Transfer the fruit mixture and all of its juices to a large pot set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes, until the strawberries are very soft. Use a potato masher to break down the strawberries. Taste, and add sugar as needed; be sure to cook the mixture, stirring, for a few minutes so that the sugar has completely dissolved. The jam's flavor will mellow as it cools. Remove and discard the vanilla beans.
While the jam is still hot, ladle it into hot, sterilized canning jars (see NOTE), leaving about 1/4 inch of head space at the top. Remove any air bubbles by running a long, nonmetallic utensil such as a chopstick or wooden skewer between the jar and the jam. Top with new, clean lids, close tightly and let cool to room temperature. The lid of a properly sealed jar should be slightly concave; if the lid springs up when you press your finger in the center, the lid is unsealed. If the lids have not sealed, process for 15 minutes in a hot-water bath (jars submerged with least 1 or 2 inches of water overhead), let cool and test again.
NOTE: To sterilize the empty jars, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat so that the water is barely bubbling. Have ready seven 8-ounce canning jars (or fifteen 4-ounce jars) with 2-piece lids. Immerse the pint jars in the canning kettle. Place the rings and lids in a separate small saucepan and cover them with hot water. Leave the jars and lids immersed while you cook the jam.
From chef Stefano Frigerio of the Copper Pot Food Co.
Tested by Amy and Sharon Orndorff.
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