When strawberries are at their peak and inexpensive make a batch of this beautiful conserve to give away as gifts.
- 1 kg strawberries
- 750 g sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 lemon
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes 4 cups
Standing time 3–4 hours
Hull the strawberries and if any of the strawberries are large, cut in halves or quarters to make them all roughly the same size. Do not wash the strawberries, if needed, give them a quick rub over with a damp cloth.
Combine the strawberries and sugar in a large open boiler and toss gently. Allow to stand at room temperature for 3–4 hours and stir gently every hour.
Place 3 saucers in the freezer; this is used later in the recipe to test the setting of the jam. Place the strawberries and sugar over a medium-low heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved, stir occasionally.
Cut the vanilla bean in half both lengthways and cross ways to end up with 4 pieces. Scrap the seeds from the beans and add both the pod and seeds to the strawberries.
Juice the lemon and add juice with any collected pulp to the pot. If there are any lemon seeds add these to the pot, be careful to remember how many go into the pot so you can remove them later. As strawberries are naturally low in pectin the lemon pulp and seeds help set the conserve.
Bring the pot to the boil over the highest setting on your stove. Once it is boiling rapidly begin to time for 8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and place a teaspoonful of the conserve onto one of the chilled saucers. Allow it to stand for 1 minute and then run your finger through the conserve to check if it is gelling. The conserve should wrinkle and remain separated. If this does not return the pot to a high heat and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Test again.
Once the conserve is gelling allow to stand for 15 minutes. Skim off any remaining scum and remove the lemon seeds.
Pour into sterilised jars and cover with the lids.
Store for up to 6 months, refrigerate once opened.
Recipe from the food dept. (recipe by Sally Courtney, photography by Petrina Tinslay, styling by David Morgan and art direction by Anne Marie Cummins).