Adding a cup of fruity red wine elevates the comforting flavor of strawberry jam to a complex, grown-up preserve. It makes the perfect filling for a classic sponge cake, and because the alcohol is cooked out completely, it also makes a very sophisticated toast at breakfast.
- Yield: 8 (½-pint) jars
- 3 pounds (1359 g) fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and quartered
- 3 cups (600 g) sugar
- 1 cup (236 ml) fruity red wine, such as Merlot, Beaujolais, or Zinfandel
- ½ cup (118 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2 to 3 medium-size lemons)
- Combine the berries and sugar in a large nonreactive pot and mash them together with a potato masher or fork. Add the red wine and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl, cover tightly with plastic, and rest at room temperature overnight.
- The next day, preheat your oven to 225°F. Place a clean plate and four metal spoons in the freezer. Wash eight ½-pint jars and lids, place them open side up on a baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven while you cook the jam.
- Bring the strawberry mixture to a boil over medium-high heat in a large nonreactive pot, such as a copper jam pan. Add ¼ cup of the lemon juice to the jam. Continue to boil the jam, scraping and stirring often, until the foam from the jam subsides, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining ¼ cup of lemon juice and continue to boil for another 10 minutes. Remove the jam from the heat, and let the bubbling subside.
- Test the jam’s doneness by scooping a small spoonful of jam onto a cold spoon from the freezer. Place the cold spoon on the cold plate and return them to the freezer for 1 minute. After 1 minute, the jam should be thickened and leave a trail when you drag a finger through it. If the jam has not thickened enough, return the pot to the heat and continue to boil for another 2 minutes. Remove the jam from the heat and test it again; look for jam that is hesitant to drip on the spoon.
- If you plan to can the jam, proceed immediately. Remove the jars and lids from the oven (leave the oven on) and divide the jam among the jars. Secure the lids. Place the full jars upright on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the jars from the oven and cool them on a wire rack, leaving at least 1 inch between them. As the jars come to room temperature, the button in the canning lid will suction inward, making a popping sound. This is the sign of a properly sealed jar of jam. Any jars of jam that do not pop have not been sealed and should be kept in the fridge, where they keep well for 3 months. The sealed strawberry jam keeps well for 1 year at room temperature.