Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff ($27.50, Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, 2016)
- 3 pounds rinsed and hulled strawberries, diced (about 9 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 Tbsp strained fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh Thai basil
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh mint
- Prepare for water-bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot, put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl.
- Put the strawberries and sugar in a wide, 6- to 8-quart preserving pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, then continue to cook for 5 minutes. Pour into a colander set over a large bowl and stir the berries gently to drain off the juice. Return the juice to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.
- Return the strawberries and any accumulated juice to the pan, along with the lemon juice, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, until a small dab of the jam spooned onto the chilled plate and returned to the freezer for a minute becomes somewhat firm (it will not gel), about 15 minutes. Skim off as much foam as you can, then remove from the heat and stir in the herbs. Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the sterilized jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.
- Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process.
- Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately. Label the sealed jars and store.
This is a sweet-tart preserve, but the mineraly cilantro, fragrant Thai basil, and fresh mint give it a complexity reminiscent of a good, well-balanced yum, or Thai salad. Strawberries pair so well with herbs, and indeed all sorts of crazy savory things—balsamic vinegar with strawberries being one surprisingly long-lived trend—that it didn’t take much to come up with this extraordinary jam. Try this: Go out into the herb garden with a plate piled with halved berries and a little mound of sugar. (Or gather a bunch of leftover herbs from the refrigerator, or befriend a generous herb grower.) Dip a berry in the sugar, and pop it in your mouth with a few leaves of different herbs, tasting and tasting until you come up with a combination you like. It’ll be a little different from the actual jam, of course, but you’ll be able to tell if you’ll like the finished result.