Although I love the old standard Strawberry Jam and always look forward to tasting that first hot spoonful every summer just as soon as it begins to gel in the pan, there is something to be said for spicing it up every now and then.
I am not much of a drinker in any sense of the word. Alcohol has never been something I find myself craving or even wanting. That isn’t to say I have never had a drink or tasted various liqueurs and wines, but I am one of those people affected by alcohol in a negative way. Wine and champagne give me an instant migraine, I do not like the taste of beer, hard liquor is only something I would consider using in cooking where appropriate, and liqueurs — well I do have to say I do enjoy using these in many desserts, but by the time I am done either cooking it or flambe with it, most of the alcohol is gone.
When I came across a recipe for strawberry jam with a touch of brandy in it however, it piqued my interest. The one liquor I do use throughout the year is brandy. There are many opportunities to use it especially during the holidays when preparing mincemeat and plum pudding. I don’t like the taste of the brandy by itself, but the combination of brandy with dried fruits and spices makes my mouth water. So, hoping that combining a bit of brandy with a suculent strawberry preserve would produce something a bit more decadent than the standard strawberry jam, I gave it a whirl.
Brandied Strawberry Preserves
4 Cups Quartered Strawberries
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Brandy, divided
4 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed with 4 Tbsp Cold Water
1 tsp. Vanilla
- Combine strawberries, sugar and 3 Tbsp. brandy in heavy stock pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium high and stir in Clear Jel slurry. Bring to boil while stirring constantly and boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat; stir in remaining brandy and vanilla. Ladle into jars and cool to room temperature.
- Cover and keep in refrigerator or freeze.
- This recipe made 4 – 8 oz. jars.
The first jar was eaten the same day on bagels with cream cheese. I swear everyone in the family came out of the woodwork for this one.
The second jar was confiscated by my father when he just happened to stop by after I’d finished jarring it.
The third jar went to my neighbors whose absolute favorite jam is strawberry and I just had to get their opinion on it. I got the empty jar back within two days – that spoke volumes.
The fourth jar…well, don’t tell anyone but it is hidden deep in the back of the refrigerator, behind an expired container of sour cream that I know no one is going to throw out because there is an unwritten rule in my house that no one but me can throw anything away in the refrigerator because you just never know what might happen (I’d love to find out, but apparently this is something far to complicated for Hubby and the kids). I’m saving this one for when a certain girl friend and I get together (hopefully soon!) so I can get her opinion.
The only thing I don’t like about this particular recipe is that it is a refrigerator/freezer jam and cannot be water bath canned. I understand why, because cooking/heating it after the last of the brandy is added might eliminate the hint of brandy that laces every bite, but this means it is going to be far harder to store. Freezer and refrigerator space is always scarce around our house, so storing an abundance of this preserve is not going to happen.
Changing things up is a good thing, especially when it produces a decadent, mouth-watering, new take on Strawberry Jam, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.