Last week, there were two pounds of strawberries left in the fridge, and we had a flat of nectarines that we could not eat through before they started going bad. I remembered a strawberry peach jam that I made a couple of years ago that the boys loved. So, I decided to put them together into a jam.
Now, I don’t have a whole lot of pictures of the process here because we had a contractor in the house giving us a quote on some work we want done and it felt a bit odd to say, “Excuse me, I need to go take pictures of this for my blog.” Of course, I was in the kitchen working on the jam at the same time, so maybe it would have been ok.
Anyway, I think I like this jam better than the strawberry peach I made awhile back because you do not have to peel nectarines. Any chance to save a prepping step is good in my book. Plus, I added a vanilla bean which gives this jam an amazing aroma. Then, at the end, I added some sweet Riesling wine, which turned out to be a perfect compliment. Originally, I wanted to use champagne, but I never made it to the store to buy any and the Riesling was just sitting the in the fridge waiting to be used.
This should be a slightly loose jam because there is not a whole lot of pectin in nectarines or strawberries. We are relying on the hefty amount of sugar and lemon juice to set the jam here, so do not be tempted to mess with the ratios or you will not get the same result. Besides, a loose jam is just perfect for stirring into yogurt or spreading on a cake.
Strawberry Nectarine Jam with Vanilla and Riesling
loosely adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery
makes about 4 pints
3 pounds ripe nectarines
2 pounds ripe strawberries
2.5 pounds sugar
grated zest of 4 lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 whole vanilla bean
1/4 cup Riesling wine or other sweet white wine
Sterilize your jars and lids and have them ready. Place a few teaspoons or saucers in the freezer for testing later.
Quarter the nectarines and slice them thinly. Toss them into your largest, widest pot with 1.5 pounds of the sugar and heat over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved.
In the meantime, hull and slice the strawberries. Also, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and then halve them crosswise. You should have four pieces. Scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife.
Stir in the strawberries, lemon zest and juice, the vanilla bean (seeds and all), and the remaining sugar into the pot and stir until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling nicely.
Lower the heat to medium and simmer briskly until the mixture is uniform in color and thickened. The strawberries will lose their color in the middle and look funny, but as the jam cooks, the color should become evenly pink. This will probably take awhile with this much fruit, at least 40 minutes up to an hour.
When you think it is done, put a few drops onto a frozen spoon. If it is slow to move when you hold the spoon up, then it is done. It should be close to the consistency of honey, maybe a tad looser, but it should not run down the spoon like water. If it’s not done, simmer the jam for 5-10 more minutes and test again. Do this until it’s ready.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the wine. Stir thoroughly. Transfer the jam to your jars and process them for 15 minutes.
The jam should keep for at least a year in the cupboard if stored in a cool place with the seals intact.
This has been a great year for strawberries. Since they have come onto the scene in late spring, we have bought strawberries every chance we could. Maybe it is because we have been buying organic strawberries almost exclusively, but they have been really flavorful and sweet. The four of us can easily eat a pound in a sitting and it would probably be more, but that’s all I make available at a time. Last week, when there was a sale on organic strawberries at the store, we sorta went crazy and bought 11 quarts.
We ate a lot of them and I froze a lot of them. I also made some Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream.
It was delicious. The balsamic is very subtle, but adds a little savoriness that compliments the strawberries perfectly.
This is the first strawberry ice cream recipe I have tried that cooks the strawberries a bit up front. It releases the juices from the strawberries. I took it a step further by scooping out the strawberries and boiling down the juice a little to concentrate the flavors even more.
This recipe only uses up 1 quart of strawberries. I was contemplating making another gallon of it to store up in the freezer, but jam called to me instead. I’ll show you the jam another. Today, I think you should try making this ice cream. It might change your idea of what strawberry ice cream should be.
Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
1 pound (quart) fresh, preferably organic strawberries, stemmed and cut up into 1 inch chunks
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
In a medium sized frying pan, warm the strawberries, sugar, and vinegar over medium heat until the sugar melts. Stir often and simmer for about 5 minutes until the strawberries are very small and there is a lot of juice in the pan. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the berries into a blender. Return the pan with its juices to the stove. Over medium low heat, simmer the juices until syrupy and reduced to 2-3tablespoons. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Then, add the strawberry juice to the blender with the strawberries and pulse a few times to blend and puree.
Transfer to a container and put in the fridge until you are ready to put the ice cream into the machine.
5 large egg yolks
2 cups (16 ounces) heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces) whole milk
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Have ready: a large bowl of ice water with another, smaller bowl inside it that will hold at least a quart and a strainer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 sugar until blended.
Heat the cream, milk, salt, and remaining sugar in a medium saucepan until it is quite steamy and the sugar is all dissolved.
Whisking all the while, add the hot milk to the egg yolks one ladleful at a time until all the milk is combined with the yolks. Return the milk mixture to the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula until slightly thickened. You should be able to draw a path through the mixture on the back of a spoon. This will take just a few minutes, so stir and check often.
Pour the cream through the strainer into the bowl inside the ice-water bath. Using a clean spatula, stir the cream every once in awhile until it is cool. Remove the bowl from the water bath, cover, and place in the fridge until thoroughly cold, at least 6 hours and up to 24.
When you are ready to make the ice cream, pour the cream mixture and the strawberry puree into the bowl of your ice cream maker. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to its directions. Transfer to a container and freeze for an hour or so to let the ice cream firm up further. Enjoy!
Ok, now that we’ve got our obligatory exercise under our belts, it’s time to consider what there is to be done with ten pounds of strawberries. Here are some of our favorite ways to eat strawberries.
1. The first thing we did was eat a lot of them, of course. Then, we sorted them into two piles: An “Oh my, these are beautiful and we must eat these” pile and a pile for the rest. Surprisingly, the eating pile was not that big. But, no worries.
2. The second thing I did was make biscuits and whipped cream for strawberry shortcakes. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show you of these because they were scarfed down too quickly. Sorry.
3. Then, I made some strawberry balsamic jam.
Scrumptious. The vanilla bean that I added highlights the sweetness of the strawberries and the balsamic vinegar gives the jam a depth of flavor that I never expected. You can’t tell that it has vinegar in it, but there is an extra flavor that you can’t quite put your finger on, so you just want a little more. It was perfect with the leftover biscuits from the shortcake.
4. With the remainder of the strawberries, I made the first pie of the summer season.
Strawberry rhubarb pie.
For this pie, I added some of my strawberry rhubarb jam from last year in place of some of the sugar. I thought it might intensify the fruity flavors. I also used instant Clearjel for the first time. This is a thickener that is preferred by the America’s Test Kitchen and is sold by King Arthur Flour. My old straw-rhub pie recipe called for flour as a thickener and I have never been fond of the flavor of flour in my pie filling. Usually, I use tapioca, but have never for this particular pie (don’t ask me why, I don’t think I’d have a rational answer).
The filling of the pie did indeed come out really fruity and I think the clearjel really helped to let those flavors shine through. It was nicely set, without being too jelly-like or runny and it was really clear (not cloudy). It tasted really great the day it was made. The next day, I found the filling to be a little gummy, but I have always found that pies always taste their best on the first day. I also tried a new pie dough recipe, but I’ll talk about that another time.
And that was it for the strawberries we picked over the weekend. They don’t keep long, so they have to be eaten or preserved somehow within a few days. It makes for a berry intense (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!) few days, but worth every minute. Now, we may have to go pick some more or maybe just go to the store. I’m not sure I’m ready for another strawberry yoga session.
What’s your favorite way to eat strawberries?