When I was a kid it was all about the peanut butter and jelly. Sure, macaroni and cheese and spaghetti were cool, but those were just phases. There was something about a good ‘ol pb&j, though. I think it must have been the ooey gooey factor.
There are a lot of foods from my childhood that don’t really interest me anymore. Those weird little hard bread stick things that you’d dunk in the fake cheese come to mind. But I have to admit that sometimes I still have a little fling with the pb&j. There may even be times when I whip up some whole wheat pancakes, sans maple syrup. Instead, I spread a little warmed-up peanut butter and jelly on top…Come on now, don’t give me that look. 🙂 Don’t knock it until you try it. 😉
Of course back in the day when it came to fruit spreads I never had anything too out of the ordinary: grape jelly, strawberry jelly, etc. No seeds, please. No hunks of fruit anywhere to be found. Who would want hunks of fruit in something that was supposed to be a fruit spread? 😛 Ah, the ignorance of youth.
Now that I’m older (and hopefully wiser, but the jury might be out on that one), I’m pretty much a jam and preserves only person. I prefer my spread with as little added sugar as necessary. Let’s just call it a reasonable amount of sugar. After all, isn’t the cute little strawberry sweet enough as it is? The only real way you could make it sweeter is to dress it up in a polka dot bow. Imagine for a moment a strawberry wearing a bow. These are the things my mind thinks of most of the day.
I really love making jams that mix interesting flavors: sweet and tangy, maybe a little spicy. And if you also like getting down to that particular dance, then why don’t you tango over here to this recipe? It comes from the book Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff. It has strawberries, mint, basil, cilantro, and is pretty much AMAZING. If you haven’t tasted the flavor combination of of basil and strawberries, prepare for love. It’s just different enough to make your taste buds sings, but if you still want to spread it on bread with some peanut or almond butter, I am 100% by your side.
- 3 lbs. rinsed and hulled strawberries (about 9 cups)
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp. minced fresh Thai basil
- 1 tbsp. minced fresh mint
- Sterilize jars by placing them in a canning pot filled with water.
- Bring the canning pot to a low simmer (do not boil).
- Keep jars hot until ready for use.
- Place the flat lids in a saucepan and bring to a simmer (do not boil).
- Keep lids hot until ready for use.
- Put a small plate in the freezer.
- Put the strawberries and sugar in a wide saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, then continue to cook for 5 minutes.
- Pour into a colander set over a large bowl. Stir the berries gently to drain off the juice.
- Return the juice to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Set aside the remaining berries for later.
- Boil the juice, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is reduced to 1½ cups (This should take about 20 minutes).
- Put the strawberries from the colander and any accumulated juice into the pan, along with lemon juice.
- Simmer, stirring constantly, until a small dab of jam spread on the cold plate and put in the freezer for a moment becomes firm. (This should take about 15 minutes).
- Skim off the foam, then remove the pan from heat.
- Stir in the herbs.
- Remove jars from the canning pot and dump any water in them back into the pot.
- Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top.
- Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then place a flat lid and ring on each one.
- Place jam jars into canning pot, making sure the water level is at least an inch above the cans.
- Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars and place onto a folded towel.
- Leave the jars for 12 hours. After one hour, check to see if the cans have sealed by pressing down on the lids. If they haven't, place them in the fridge right away.