Friday, May 05, 2023


It really isn’t a secret how much I love jam making. Especially this early into the fruit season, with plenty of ruby red berries.
Because jams are so versatile and quite rewarding in more ways than one, when cooked and stored properly, they are an irreplaceable part of sweet breakfasts, oatmeal toppings, or even cake fillings. To me, there is no fruit cake that does not benefit from a large spoonful of homemade jam, whether it's swirled through the filling or added directly into the batter.
Adding lemon to any jam will not only brighten the flavour, but it will help set the jam nicely, too. However, adding lemon and vanilla, as well as a hint of Pinot Noir and its gorgeous fruity notes, truly transforms this jam into a treat resembling candy.
Do keep in mind that while it is a jam, the tangy lemon flavour does come through, in that sweet, almost puckering way. If you feel you would prefer it will less of a lemon flavour, choose smaller lemons, and that should work wonderfully.

1 kilogram ripe organic strawberries
2 medium organic lemons
300 grams light brown sugar
¼ vanilla bean
1-2 teaspoons unfined Pinot Noir, to taste

Wash well and zest half of one of the lemons, and peel and segment both of them. Wash and clean the strawberries, making sure the bruised ones are removed, and then dice them into a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
Add in the lemon segments and the zest, and press everything gently with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle in the light brown sugar, shake the pot so everything settles nicely, and leave them to macerate for about an hour.
Carefully scrape the vanilla bean and do not discard it. Once the fruit has released plenty of liquid, place the pot over medium high heat, add in the vanilla seeds and the pod, and let everything slowly come to a boil. Let the jam cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes or so, or to your desire thickness. The fruit can also be mashed lightly with a wooden spoon, although both strawberries and the citrus segments are soft and will break down easily.
Check if the jam has reached its setting point either with a thermometer (it should read 105°C), or by using the saucer test. Take a chilled saucer or a small plate, add a few drops of the jam and let them stand for a minute. When the saucer is tilted, and the jam stays in place, it is ready. If not, if it is still runny, or you prefer a slightly thicker jam, cook for 5 more minutes, and test again.
Remove the pot from the heat, let it cool down a tad, remove and discard the vanilla pod, add in the wine, mix well, and fill the prepared and sterilised jars. Yields 500 grams of jam.