I finally had the opportunity this weekend to work on my April entry (late for the second time!) for Tigress' Can Jam. The ingredient of the month for April? Herbs. I grow a ton of herbs in my garden, all of which are currently in season: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, mint, lavender, sage. The issue was which herb.
With Thursday came the week's CSA delivery, and with it, the answer to my question. I received four baskets of strawberries from the CSA. Ripe, juicy, humongous, organic strawberries. They were delicious. Strawberries don't last long, once picked (which is why, if you get them in a supermarket and they weren't sourced locally, they've lasted because they were picked when un-ripe). So I decided I would make use of two baskets in a small batch of strawberry jam.
Make that strawberry lavender jam.
Last fall, when I was taking part in Sonoma County Farm Trails, I made my usual stop at Gabriel Farm. They have the most amazing Asian pears, especially the Hosui. And if you make the trek to the farm (which has u-pick apples and gobs of lavender as well) you'll get those amazing pears for half the price they sell for at the Whole Foods Market in Campbell. I bought 20 pounds of the pears, stored them in my fridge, and they would have lasted at least a month and a half, but alas, they never last that long in our kitchen! But…what I also bought was one lonely little jar of Asian pear lavender compote. That was a mistake. I should have bought at least three jars. Maybe four.
And since that compote came into my life, I've been pondering the idea of lavender as star ingredient in a canned creation. And while my husband jetted off to yet another bass fishing competition (to film, not to fish), I fought sleeplessness with canner baths instead of bubble baths.
Strawberry Lavender Jam
1 lb strawberries
1 lb sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
20 stems of lavender
Wash, dry and hull the strawberries. Put them in a bowl.
Lay 10 of the lavender stems atop the strawberries.
Cover with the
sugar and let it cool in your refrigerator for one day.
When you're ready to make your jam, make sure you have sterilized jars ready to go. This is a true "small batch" recipe, making 2-3 half-pint jars. I processed two of the jars and the third didn't quite fill up, so I just refrigerated (and it should be gone very soon!). Put your canner bath on stove so the water can begin to heat, because this recipe is a quick cook once you've finished the necessary prep.
the lavender from the strawberry and sugar. Sugar will clump around the lavender, but with a simple shake it should fall right back into the bowl.
Place the strawberry and sugar mixture in a large non-reactive pan.
Take your 10 remaining lavender stems and use one of the stems to tie the others together. Add the lavender to the pan. Add the lemon juice.
Cook over medium heat until the mixture
comes to a boil, then continue to cook for about 20 minutes.
I am currently not a fan of the gel stage. The gel stage and I are not friends. And because of this, I stand by my jams, stare at them, and poke them often with a candy thermometer to see how close I am to 220 degrees F. Gel stage. All stoves are different. Mine is an old Wedgewood gas stove that cooks very hot. So I started testing for the temperature around 15 minutes, and it hit 220 at 17 minutes. Unless you're better than me when it comes to determining the gel stage (which doesn't take a lot) I suggest you take your jam's temperature as well. There's nothing worse than a delicious jam that you can't poke with a knife.
foam from the top of your creation. Discard the lavender. Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized jars, wipe the rim of any excess jam, and seal.
Process in a canner bath for 10 minutes.
What to do with your Strawberry Lavender Jam
- Top off your toast
- Scones. Let it star at your next tea party!
- Make these lavender cookies into strawberry lavender jam cookies! Before you pop them in the oven, simply press your thumb gently in the center to create a pool, and add a dollop of the jam. Then cook as normal.
- Give them as gifts, because the color, the seeds of the strawberries, the sweet delicate floral taste says, simply, "I adore you."