We’re heading into strawberry season here in Italy. You can find big, ripe strawberries in all the supermarkets, outdoor markets and from produce trucks on the side of the roads. Yesterday I bought a big boxful from the local Sicilian produce truck and was excited to get home and try them out. They smelled so sweet and delicious.
There’s only one slight little problem. I’m allergic to fresh strawberries. But somehow every year when strawberry season comes around I convince myself that it’s a possibility that my strawberry allergy has miraculously been cured. And every year I pop one lovlingly in my mouth, taste that divine sweet berry flavour then proceed to swell up. My eyes get red and swollen, my lips puff up (think Angelina Jolie here) and my throat starts to itch so terribily I’ve been known to contemplate shoving a fork down to scratch it . In other words I look frightening. Scare-the-neighbourhood-kids sort of frightening. But let me tell you…those 10 seconds of tasting fresh strawberries is almost worth the discomfort I feel from the allergic reaction.
So in order to use up some of the strawberries that I purchased I decided to give jam making a try again (I’m not allergic to cooked strawberries). Last time it was actually a success (Blood Orange Marmalade). And I’m proud to tell you this time was as well.
Today we gave this new batch of jam a try with fresh out of the oven homemade biscuits. Delicious. The sweetness of the berries with the addition of the tart lime juice and rind is really perfection. And to round off all the flavours the vanilla gives it such a deep sweet richness.
Unfortunately only one of my three children likes jam (the other two run away in horror at the mere mention of spreading it on their bread). So a nice thing about this recipe is the fact it makes quite a small batch. I managed to get 3 normal sized jars of jam out of this recipe.
Recipe: Strawberry Lime Vanilla Jam
4 cups chopped strawberries
2 cups of sugar (divided in two)
1-2 vanilla bean (split and pulp scraped from the inside)
1 lime (zest and juice)
1. Place chopped strawberries in large bowl with 1 cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean and let marinate (some prefer the term macerate…not me) for 2-3 hours.
2. Add marinated strawberries into large pot with the remaining cup of sugar and bring to a boil and simmer until it reaches 220 degrees (I use a candy thermometre).
3. Add the lime juice and zest and boil for additional 5-8 minutes or until the jam is at the correct consistency.
Enjoy! (I found this recipe here)
This jam brings back warm and fuzzy memories of one of my favourite childhood books “Bread and Jam for Frances” by Russel Hoban. I so related to Francis and her love of bread and jam. Still do.