Easy and delicious, no pectin, small-batch strawberry jam, with a touch of balsamic vinegar and a bit of black pepper.
1lb.fresh strawberrieswashed, hulled and halved or quartered, if large
2cups granulated white sugarapproximately *see Notes below
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3-4grindsfreshly ground black pepper
If you will be testing your jam with the Cold Plate Test (see below), place a small plate in the freezer to cool before starting your jam.
Prepare the strawberries by hulling, washing, draining well, then halving or quartering, if large. Weigh the prepared strawberries, recording the weight, then place in a large, non-reactive saucepan (not aluminum). *Mixture will bubble up considerably when it boils, to be sure to use a large pot).
Weigh out an equal amount of white sugar as the weight of the prepared strawberries. (So if your prepared strawberries weighed 15 oz., weigh out 15 oz of white sugar. Add the sugar to saucepan with the strawberries. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon and stir to combine.
Turn heat to medium under the saucepan and heat the mixture, stirring regularly until the sugar dissolves. Once mixture comes to a boil, increase the heat to medium-high. Use a potato masher to break down the strawberries a bit. Continue to boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 221F on a candy thermometer or the mixture passes the Cold Plate Test (see below). This usually takes about 10 minutes. *Mixture will produce some foam as it cooks. You can spoon off and discard if you like. I don't usually bother myself.
Remove pot from heat. Add balsamic vinegar and black pepper and stir to combine. Carefully spoon jam into a clean jar (careful, it's hot!!). Fill to within 1/2-inch of the top. Place lid on jar and invert jar on a tea towel and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Place jar in the refrigerator and keep refrigerated at all times. Will keep in the fridge for 4-6 months. (Note that to store this jam at room temperature, you would need to follow safe canning procedures with sterilizing jars and lids and then processing the filled jars of jam in a hot water bath. Refer to a reputable canning source for instructions on how to do that.)
*Testing for set with a cold plate: Set a dinner plate into your freezer before you start to make your jam. As your jam is coming close to setting, remove the plate from the freezer and drop a small puddle of hot jam onto the plate. Let stand a few second, then run your finger through the middle of the puddle. If the puddle runs back together, it is not set and you need to cook longer. If the path remains and doesn’t run back together and the edges of the line are raised and/or wrinkled your jam is done.
*If you don't have a scale to weigh the berries and sugar, note that 2 cups of sugar = 1 lb. Assuming you end up with a little less than 1lb. of strawberries after they are hulled, you can just use a scant 2 cups of white sugar and you'll be pretty close.Be sure to read the “Ingredient and Cook's Notes" included with this recipe’s post, where I share more detailed tips, variations and substitution suggestions for this recipe!Nutritional information is for the entire 1X batch of jam.