Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Strawberry Balsamic Spread

This year we planted Sparkle Strawberries.  A friend in my permaculture group split a plant order with me and really with a name like "sparkle" how could I possibly go wrong? The directions said to not let them set fruit this first year, but rather to pick all the flowers so that the plants would put all their energy into making really strong plants...but I lack the will power to do that : ) We let them set fruit and enjoyed many a wonderful strawberry shortcake earlier this year.

When I see that the grocery store is running a special on strawberries...which they have been the last couple weeks, I buy 4 or 6 quarts and make this spread.  You could call it a jam or call it a syrup it all depends on how long you cook it. The shorter the cooking the more syrupy it is.  I generally end up with a somewhat loose jam so I call it a spread.  Here's my (also loose) recipe.

Strawberry Balsamic Spread

Balsamic Vinegar

Homegrown spray free strawberries would be best, but if you buy the berries in and end up with nonorganic I would give them a good soak in a cool water bath (think a big mixing bowl) with 2 tablespoons or so of applecider vinegar.

Hull your berries.  Cut them in half if they're small, in quarters if they're large, and put them in a large deep pot (if your pot is too little you will regret it(!) as syrup will splatter all over your stovetop during the boiling period).  I generally use 4 to 6 quarts of berries at a time, but really the more the merrier.

Add the sugar. You'll think I'm wacky, but I don't generally measure the sugar I just give a glug from my sugar crock and then give a taste once it's all dissolved. The recipe on which this recipe was based called for 5 cups of sugar for 8 cups of berries (which seems to me like way too much sugar). Other recipes I've seen call for 1 cup of sugar for every 2 cups of berries, which seems better.

Stir the sugar in until it's fully dissolved and bring to a boil.  Then add a pat of butter to keep the foam down.  Turn the heat down to medium low, and then as time passes to low.  Continue to boil until you reach the desired consistency.  Generally I boil about an hour for jam. You want to be sure to give a good stir every once in a while to prevent sticking.  I tend to stir every 5 minutes or so. Once you are pleased with the consistency add the balsamic vinegar.  For my 4-6 quarts of berries I add 5 tablespoons.  Stir the balsamic in and you are ready to fill your jars.

While the jam is boiling down you should be preparing your clean jars, and lids in hot water.  Now's the time to fill them 1/2 inch from the top and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Syrup can be processed the exact same way.  Alternatively you could easily freeze this jam, but my freezer is plum out of room.

This jam is so, so good!  Great on toast, with scones, with fresh ricotta, a nice bloomy rind cheese, or a somewhat stinky bleu. Some are on their way out today as thank you gifts to some special lovelies.

My recipe is adapted from the Strawberry Balsamic Jam recipe in Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone.  Another great recipe is at Savory Sweet Life.

Ok then, jam it up!


  1. Oh my gosh, that looks sooooo good. Haven't had the courage to try canning yet - maybe someday!

  2. Thanks Tonya! You really should give it a try sometime. I just saw a really great canning post on Northwest Edible Life with pictures of each step. Pop over and give it a look see if you have a chance. There's something so satisfying about opening the door to the cellar and seeing all those jars. I'm a big fan of freezing too, but there's just something about all the rows of full jars that I adore.