If there’s one food item to look forward to in the summer, it’s the baskets of farm-fresh, ultra-ripe, extra sweet fruit at the farmers’ market. I’ve waiting for strawberries all season, and finally picked up a gorgeous basketful at the North Berkeley Farmers’ Market. I like using strawberries to fill and decorate cakes, or cooking them into pies of all kinds.
But there’s an even simpler preparation that yields great rewards. Jam.
This method works with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, stone fruits… Just about any summer fruit works here. But I like strawberries the best, for their fresh flavor and texture.
The simplest and easiest quick jams are just fruit and a little sugar, simmered together until done. You always can fancy-up your jams with all kinds of juices, spices, and flavorings. I chose to add lemon and thyme to my strawberry jam. (Strawberries + thyme are an unexpected flavor combo, but they’re total winners to me!)
It all begins with strawberries, thyme, lemon, and sugar. These are our stars.
Chop up your strawberries. Halve the tiny ones, quarter the medium ones, and cut the humongous ones into eighths. Place them in a saucepan.
Wash the thyme, then pull the tiny leaves off the stems. Add a tablespoon or two of thyme leaves to the berries.
Squeeze in some lemon– as much or as little as you’d like.
Add sugar, then just a little spoonful of cornstarch. The cornstarch isn’t absolutely necessary here, but it’ll help the jam thicken and gel later. If you skip the starch, expect a runnier jam.
Cook the jam, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10-15 minutes. You’ll see the sugar dissolve, the strawberries release their juices, and the whole mixture thicken slightly. (It won’t be as solid or thick as a regular jam. Remember, this is our quick, pectin-less version.)
When the jam is done, it’ll look something like this. Thick, glossy, deep red.
Spoon it into a jar, let it cool, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. This jam is amazing on croissants, PB&Js, french toast, pancakes… Almost anything.
My suggestion? Eat it on challah.
Strawberry Thyme Quick Jam
A quick and easy jam made from strawberries and thyme.
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons loosely packed fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
- Cook, stirring continuously, for 10-15 minutes. Let the strawberries release their juices, cook down, and thicken slightly.
- Remove from heat. Spoon the jam into a jar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled completely. The jam will be slightly runny at room temperature, but set into a thicker, more spreadable texture after being chilled. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Note that omitting cornstarch will produce a runnier jam.