When do you know it’s summer? A date on the calendar? The first full week of warm weather? As I was growing up, Memorial Day weekend was my start to the summer. School had either ended the previous Friday or would wind down by the Friday to come. Nothing signaled summer had arrived better than days full of sunshine and freedom.
Fresh berries are also a pretty good signal that summer is here; I have bought one gallon worth of berries for the past two weeks. The indulgence got me thinking about what I could make with these bright red berries.
My Beyond Shortcake Pinterest board is filled with strawberry recipe ideas that I have wanted to try, but I settled on a strawberry lavender jam because a) I had fresh lavender to go along with those fresh berries and b) the thought of canning terrified me. Canning is something I have wanted to try for over a year, so I finally decided it was time.
Enjoy strawberry jam on toast…
or on ice cream.
The cookbook I took this recipe from, Canning for a New Generation, has a great set of step-by-step instructions that eased me out of my fears and into what I expect will become a full-fledged jam addiction. I was intimidated by all of the steps the process required, but now that I have done it once, I realize it was not all that hard.
This recipe for strawberry lavender jam requires only four ingredients: strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and lavender. It also requires a large pot, canning jars and lids, large tongs or a jar lifter, kitchen towels, and patience. A strawberry huller also helps; I used the strawberry huller the good folks at OXO provided me to make quick work of hulling the nine cups of strawberries I needed to make this jam.
As for the finished product, I liked the very faintly herbal taste the lavender provided and the sizable pieces of fruit in the jam. Enjoy the season!
Strawberry Lavender Jam
- 3 pounds strawberries (about 9 cups), rinsed and hulled
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, strained
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender (or 1 tablespoon fresh lavender)
- Begin by preparing the jars. Put four, half-pint jars in a stockpot or other large pot and cover with water. Place the pot on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Put the jar lids in a separate bowl and set them aside; also, place a small plate in the freezer.
- While the jars process, begin preparing the jam.
- Place the strawberries and the sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Allow to simmer for five minutes.
- Now pour the mixture into a colander set over a large bowl. Gently stir the berries in the colander to strain off most of the juice.
- Set the colander and berries aside, preferably over another bowl or plate to catch juice drips, and return the juice to the saucepan.
- Bring the juice to a boil, stirring occasionally. Allow the juice to boil until reduced to a syrup measuring 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.
- Return the strawberries and any juice that has drained from them while sitting to the saucepan with the reduced syrup.
- Stir in the lemon juice and the lavender and return the mixture to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer until a small dab of jam spooned onto the plate in the freezer becomes somewhat firm (it will not gel), about 15 minutes.
- Spoon off any accumulated foam from the saucepan and stir gently.
- At this point, ladle boiling water from the pot with the jars into the bowl with the lids until the lids are covered.
- Place a folded kitchen towel in the designated work area.
- Use a jar lifter to remove the sterilized jars from the canning pot, being careful to pour the water in each back into the pot, and place upright on the kitchen towel. Note, the jars should have boiled at least 10 minutes in order to ensure they are sterilized.
- Ladle the hot jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch of head space.
- Once the jars are filled, use a damp cloth to wipe the rims of the jars.
- Drain the water off the jar lids and place the lids (flat lid and ring) on top, securing until finger tight.
- Return the filled and sealed jars to the pot of water. Make sure the water is at least one inch above the tops of the jars.
- Return to a boil and allow to boil for five minutes to process.
- Remove the jars from the water and again place on a folded towel.
- After one hour, check the seals on the jars by pressing down on the center of each lid. If the lid is easy to press down and then pops back up (just like an open jar of pickles), the lid has not sealed properly and the jar should be refrigerated.
- Allow the sealed jars to cool for 12 hours before storing in cool dark place. Once open, refrigerate any unused contents.
OXO generously provided me with their Good Grips strawberry huller free of charge.