Strawberry & vanilla jam
We all eat with our eyes, therefore colourful food with interesting textures is far more appealing to us. When it comes to berries and strawberries, it is so easy to make ‘beautiful’ food. Even though they are very seasonal, you can make something delicious with frozen berries too.
Strawberries and berries are normally associated with desserts, fruit salads and garnishing baked goods, but there are fabulous ideas for main meals as well. I use strawberries and other berries in salads. It works so well with more fruit like apples, peaches, grapes and salad ingredients like cucumber, avocado and other green veggies mixed with fresh herbs and lettuce. Berries are ideal for any time of day as a snack and even breakfast. Have you ever had strawberries or berries with French toast, bacon and honey for breakfast? Food fit for a king! They go equally well with sweet and savoury flavours like vanilla pods, cinnamon, lemon and mint.
Berries are really healthy and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. No wonder blueberries are known as a superfood. Use berries in smoothies, add them to your juice or water and use them in a fruit salad. One of my favourite salads is with chicken and strawberries (click here for the recipe.) Berries are delicate little fruits, so take care not to lose their natural flavour when cooking with them. Strawberries are delicious with salmon, cold meats and peppered mackerel so use them on sandwiches and in salads for a light meal. Blend over-ripe fruit and freeze in ice trays to use in smoothies, juice or as part of a dessert.
A jar of goodness.
When it’s berry season and you have them in abundance – make jam! My go-to is this strawberry jam recipe. Many years ago, I stumbled across a similar recipe by Jamie Oliver and just had to recreate it. Jam is normally very sweet, but you don’t need as much sugar in this recipe. The lemon juice helps to set the jam and the flavour of the vanilla pod is out of this world. Using much less sugar obviously appealed to me, which also makes this more than just jam for toast or buttered bread. It goes well with French toast, waffles, crumpets and even for breakfast in a muesli, or dessert with yoghurt, fresh fruit and nuts. Spread it between two layers of butter cake or use it as a sauce for pudding.
Strawberry & vanilla jam
Recipe from Make five/Maak vyf
Makes about 750 ml
1 kg strawberries, quartered
350 ml sugar
90 ml (6 tbsp) lemon juice
1 vanilla pod, split open and seeds scraped out
- Cut three to four thick strips of lemon rind with a vegetable peeler. Cut each strip into a few thinner strips.
- Place all the ingredients, including the vanilla pod with the seeds, in a saucepan and mix through. Allow to stand for 15 minutes, so that the sugar can start to dissolve and the strawberries start to macerate (break down and become soft and saucy).
- Heat fruit over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 20-30 minutes, but don’t let it boil to rapidly. Spoon off any foam that forms on the top, but take care not to remove too many vanilla seeds.
- After 30 minutes, test some of the jam on a cold saucer. If it sets quickly and you can make a path through the jam (it shouldn’t run back) with your finger the jam is ready. Simmer for a few more minutes if it is too runny. Remember that it is not a stiff jam, so take care not to overcook it.
- Spoon hot jam into sterilised jars, seal and allow to cool. Or spoon into a container and store in the fridge. Use as suggested above.
- To sterilise the jars, fill with boiling water and allow to stand for a few minutes. Place lids in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Fill the hot jars with the hot jam and seal immediately.
- Substitute half of the strawberries with a mixture of berries, such as blueberries or raspberries.
- Substitute vanilla pod with a cinnamon stick.