I grew up eating strawberry jam on everything. When your grandfather owns a U-Pick strawberry farm, veritable gallons of the sweet stuff are made each summer by Mom, Nana, aunts, even my brother, allowing for a seemingly never-ending supply. These days, though the strawberry harvest at the farm is down from thousands of pounds to tens of pounds, Mom still makes wonderful strawberry jam each summer, plain or with raspberry or rhubarb. The steady stream of strawberry jam sent to me in care package-style boxes, with homemade granola and fresh bread used for packing material, made me hesitant to “waste” jam-making time on strawberries. But this spring I got the bug, and here’s the recipe for the first flavor I made, strawberry with ginger and fresh mint.
A flourishing mint
forest plant in our balcony herb garden and an abundance of ginger on hand for the ginger beer I am trying to make (cross fingers for me, please) were the inspiration for this flavor combination. I didn’t want the ginger or mint to overwhelm the sweetness of the first-of-the-year fresh berries, so I kept the amount of each low-ish, though you could increase either or both (or infuse the berries longer) if you desire a stronger flavor. I also chose not to use pectin, though you can certainly add some if you like. The resulting jam is all strawberry at the front with background hints of mint and ginger, more of the former. It’s a bright and friendly jam that, when generously heaped on toast, helps start your day right.
Strawberry Jam with Ginger and Mint (makes about 4 half-pints)
- 4 c. strawberries, sliced or crushed*
- 2 c. sugar, separated
- 20 fresh mint leaves (about 1/4 c. packed), washed and separated
- 8 slices of fresh ginger plus 2 T. freshly grated
- juice and zest of one lemon
Day 1: Combine the strawberries and one cup of sugar in a bowl and add the sliced ginger (keep it in large pieces and make a note of how many are in the bowl, since you’ll need to fish them all out) and 8 of the mint leaves, bruised slightly to release their oils. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight, up to 3 days.
In a food processor, whir the remaining cup of sugar with the remaining 12 leaves of mint until you have a light green (with flecks of darker green), very fragrant and slightly wet-looking mint sugar. Transfer to a dry container and cover tightly. Leave at room temperature until you are ready to make your jam.
Day 2: Prepare your water bath and sterilize your jars and lids. To a non-reactive jam pan or Dutch oven, as shallow as possible, add the strawberries and all juice in the container (the berries should be covered or almost covered by juice); discard the ginger slices and mint leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and add the mint sugar; return this mixture to a rolling boil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 mins. Add the lemon juice and zest and the grated ginger and continue to boil until the jam sets; you can test the doneness with your preferred method or one of these. When you are pleased with the consistency of the jam, ladle it hot into your sterilized jars, wipe the rims and affix flat lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 10 mins. and then remove the hot jars, carefully, to a towel-lined counter space. Leave untouched overnight; check to make sure each jar has sealed before storing. Properly sealed jars should keep for at least one year.
*I like my jam to have large pieces of fruit in it, so I slice larger berries and keep the small ones whole. If you prefer a uniform consistency, use a potato masher to crush the berries on Day 2 as you bring them to the initial boil.