My weekly bread-baking ritual has brought us more than whole grain carb-induced joy, lately. With great bread comes great responsibility, right? Or something like that.
I’ve made myself responsible for creating an assortment of toppings we can enjoy on our fresh sourdough, both when it’s warm out of the oven and when it’s a few days old and starting to lose moisture, but still needs to be eaten. I’m a sucker for good old grass-fed butter or trendy avocado slices with red pepper flakes. But Ryan’s favorite bread spread will probably forever be strawberry jam.
I’ve making various incarnations of homemade jam over the years. These have ranged from super sugary traditional canned recipes to hippie-crunchy chia jam. Chia jam, actually, is still a regular feature in my kitchen, though we don’t eat sugary jam anymore at all. If store-bought, it’s always fruit juice-sweetened. Still, homemade is my absolute favorite. This strawberry vanilla bean jam is my favorite.
It takes time to get used to no-sugar-added jams, I think. It isn’t that they aren’t sweet enough on their own, it’s just that when you’re used to sweetened jam, the flavors and textures of unsweetened can throw your taste buds for a loop. Strawberries, for example, are sweet, but they also have a natural puckery tartness to them that is completely absent from their jam version. Not mine, though! I love that I can really taste the true flavor of strawberries in this jam. And why not play those flavors up a little bit, with vanilla bean seeds? The almost creamy flavor they add to this jam is delightfully different from anything you can buy in a store.
Would you just look at those gorgeous little vanilla specks?!
For this recipe, I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin. It’s made from citrus fruits, and unlike most conventional pectins for jam and jelly-making, you don’t need to add gobs of sugar to make it set correctly. I don’t recommend using any other pectin for this recipe. You can probably find Pomona’s at your local grocery store, but if not, a health food store or Whole Foods will do the trick.
This jam has a softer set, so don’t expect something that keeps a firm shape like jelly. If you like your jam more firm, use more pectin and calcium water. I like mine slightly softer so I can enjoy it over ice cream as well as on breads and sandwiches!
A sweet and juicy strawberry jam with vanilla bean and no added sugar.
- 4 cups strawberry puree (for me, this one about 30 ounces of frozen strawberries, thawed and pureed)
- 2 teaspoons Pomona's Universal Pectin
- 2 teaspoons calcium water (included in the Pomona's package)
- seeds of one vanilla bean, scraped out
If you're canning this jam, prepare your jars, lids, and rings. Please be aware that the canning safety of this recipe has not been lab-tested. It has always stored safely for me, but if you're concerned, don't bother with the canning method and just store your extra jars in the freezer until you're ready to use them.
Start by making the calcium water according to the instructions on the Pomona's box. Set aside until you need it.
Pour your pureed strawberries into a saucepan. Stir in the scraped vanilla bean seeds and bring to a boil.
Prepare the pectin in a blender according to the instructions. Add the calcium water to your fruit puree and mix, then stir in the pectin mixture and continue to boil for several minutes, stirring continuously. A silicone spatula works well for this, as you'll want to keep the bottom from sticking.
If you're canning the jam, carefully transfer it into the jars, place the lids on, screw the rings fingertip-tight, and process in a water bath for 10 minutes, before removing and allowing to seal and set at room temperature. If you aren't canning the jam, just transfer it to your jars or containers of choice, allow to cool at room temperature, and transfer to the freezer.