Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam
This is one of the first jams I ever made, and it is a perennial best seller at Valerie Confections. The vanilla bean rounds out the sweetness of the strawberry and takes the jam to an almost candy-like level. Pair it with your favorite peanut butter for the best PB&J ever.
• Mix the strawberries with the sugar in a medium bowl
• Using a small paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds out. Add the seeds and bean to the strawberries, cover, and set aside for 30 minutes, or macerate for as long as overnight in the refrigerator.
• Sterilize six 12-ounce canning jars and lids.
• Put 2 small ceramic plates in the freezer.
• Pour the strawberry mixture into a large pot and set on high heat. Cook, stirring with large wooden spoon or heatproof silicone spatula, scarping the edges and bottom of the pot to prevent scorching, until the berries soften and begin to break down, approximately 15 minutes. If the jam bubbles up too much, lower the heat to medium. Once the bubbling subsides, after 5 to 10 minutes, the jam will begin to thicken.
• Taste the jam for sweetness. If you want, add a little more sugar 1/4 cup at a time, taste, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. If you want a stronger vanilla flavor, add the second vanilla bean.
• Check the set of the jam by putting a small dollop of the hot jam on the chilled plates. Run your finger through it: if your finger leaves a track, the jam is ready; if not, continue cooking for a few minutes and repeat the test. Remove from heat.
• Remove the vanilla bean(s). Pour the jam into the sterilized jars and seal with warm lids. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for up tp 4 weeks.