The Strawberry-Balsamic Jam Recipe (As Requested)

 After receiving several requests for the strawberry jam recipe, this week brought me back in the kitchen making another small batch with the balsamic vinegar and black pepper, but this time with my camera along! 
(Note: The strawberry-cherry jam I pictured in my last post was a recipe from the cookbook The Art of Preserving; this strawberry jam includes the addition of balsamic vinegar and black pepper and was inspired by that same recipe, but with some variations.)

 Last year I started making my jams without additional pectin.  This can result in a loose-set jam, particularly with strawberries, since they are a fruit that contains a lower level of natural pectin.  I actually prefer a loose-set jam since it's easier to spread, so this doesn't bother me a bit.  The other (great) advantage is that you can use significantly less sugar.  
This is a small batch recipe, making only 3 half-pint jars, so you'll need about 2 lbs of strawberries (approximately 8 cups). I always use local fruit when making jam and rinse it thoroughly before getting started.

 I set up a little station for rinsing the strawberries, hulling (I like to use a spoon for this) and then placing in a bowl. 

 Don't worry about chopping or slicing the strawberries, because we're going to mash them in a bit.  Add about 1 1/4 cup sugar (I use organic granulated) and stir together.  (At this point I always cringe at the amount of sugar added, and yet it's nothing compared to a recipe containing additional pectin!) 

After about ten minutes or so, mash the strawberries and continue to let them sit for about an hour or two.

While the strawberries are sitting, I begin to prepare my jars, lids, bands and canner.  I use my jars and bands over and over again, only purchasing new lids each year, as these cannot be re-used.

(If you are new to canning, you can find a helpful guide at Ball's site here on preparing your jars and water bath canning.)
 Once you're ready to cook your jam, transfer the strawberries to a non-reactive saucepan (I use stainless steel) and add the juice from half of a lemon (or about 3 Tbsp). 

Bring the strawberries to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium, stirring frequently and watching closely for the jell stage.  I don't like to give a definite time that it will take the strawberries before they are at a jell stage because it varies, but I will tell you that my jam was very close at 30 minutes. (This is a good time to do the dishes!)
About the time I start cooking the jam, I also put a spoon in the freezer.  When I'm ready to check the jam to see if it's jelling, I'll take the spoon out of the freezer, add some jam to it, put it back in the freezer for a minute or so and nudge it when I take it out to see if it's ready.  

 Just before the jam is ready, add 1/8 tsp of freshly ground black pepper and 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar to the strawberries and continue to cook for about one to two minutes.  Remove the jam from the heat. 

 (This is what my jam looked like when I took it off the heat.) 

 The last step is filling the jars, leaving 1/4" headspace and processing for 10 minutes.  
(Again, you can refer to these instructions on Ball's site for proper canning procedures.)

Remove from the canner and let the jars sit for about 24 hours, ensuring a good seal.  I like to remove my bands before storing to prevent any rust. 

The pepper and balsamic vinegar is by no means overpowering, but lends a slightly unexpected taste that is just delicious.  I know I mentioned this in my previous post, but we agreed that this is one of the best jams we have ever tasted.

We tried it on biscuits for breakfast (doesn't my husband make a great hand model?!) and as I was photographing and everyone was coming back for seconds, you can see the jam dwindled down quickly.  ;-)

Strawberry Jam with Balsamic Vinegar and Black PepperMakes 3 half-pint jars
2 lbs fresh strawberries1 1/4 cup sugarJuice from 1/2 lemon (about 3 Tbsp)1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Rinse strawberries and hull.  Place in a bowl with sugar and let sit for 1-2 hours, mashing the strawberries after about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare jars and lids.

Place the strawberries in a non-reactive saucepan, add the lemon juice and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until jam is at the jell stage, stirring frequently and watching closely. Add the balsamic vinegar and black pepper the last two minutes of cooking, stirring constantly.  Remove the pan from heat.

Pour jam into hot, prepared jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.  Seal and process jars for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.  Remove and let jars sit for 24 hours, ensuring a good seal.  Remove bands and store for one year.