Sunday, May 29, 2011


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     What a lovely surprise – two quarts of strawberries hand-delivered by Paul’s parents, Gayle and Richard. They have a home in the bucolic town of Bethel, Delaware surrounded by farmland and they always bring us the season’s first offerings of strawberries, sweet corn, and melons.

      Of course, strawberries have been on my mind since gathering the season’s first stalks of rhubarb, and I already knew exactly what I was going to do with them – put by a small batch of Sherried Strawberry Jam.

   Turning fruits into jams is one of my favorite spring and summer time activities. Homemade jams and jellies not only make great gifts, but are fantastic bases for sauces and glazes, and of course, are perfect for slathering on top of bread or toast. The traditional way to make jams and jellies is to use LOTS of sugar, not only to add sweetness but also to help the fruits jell. The problem with this old-fashioned method is that you have to cook the fruit so long you cook much of the nutritional goodness right out of the batches ending up with a sugary syrup. Delicious, but...

     Over the years I have moved away from using sugar (although I will sometimes use small amounts of raw sugar) to sweetening my jams with honey, and experimented pairing other flavors with the fruits.  My favorite pairings are blueberries with ginger, and peaches with nutmeg, though raspberries and blackberries I do prefer the old-fashioned way. For strawberries I like the bouquet of a dry sherry.

     Sherry is a fortified wine that originated in the town of Jerez/Xérès (pronounced Sherish) in southern Spain. The term dry, when used with wine, refers to the absence of sugar. Without sugar to coat the mouth, masking the acid and tannins, your mouth will dry out. However, I've discovered coupled with  honey, the hint of dry sherry enhances the flavor of the strawberries without drying out your taste buds or overwhelming them with the syrupy sweetness of sugar .If you prefer you could substitute a sweeter sherry. Cream Sherry is an Oloroso sweetened with rich Pedro Ximenez grapes. Its aroma is round, crisp and velvety. An ideal dessert aperitif, this sherry blends deliciously with the strawberries. Make sure to omit the honey or you might find the sweetness overwhelming.     I also add a splash of Cider Vinegar and a dash of butter to this recipe. The vinegar enhances the flavors also acting as a natural preservative, while the butter helps keep the bubbling to a minimum when bringing the batch to a boil thereby minimizing the amount of air bubbles in the mixture. One of the most important tenets of pickling and preserving is keeping air in the canning jars to aid in preventing spoilage.



2 quarts Strawberries - Hulled and cut into halves or quarters

2 Tablespoons Honey

1/4 Cup Sherry

2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar (optional)

2 teaspoons Butter (optional)

1.75 oz. No Sugar Needed Pectin


Review "Processing Instructions" included with box of pectin. Make sure your hot water bath has already been brought to a boil, then reduce heat to medium before starting next step.

In a non-reactive saucepan large enough to comfortably hold strawberries, heat Sherry, Cider Vinegar, Honey, and Butter over medium heat, stirring to combine ingredients. 

Add washed, hulled, and cut strawberries to mixture. (Don't worry, they will release their juices and provide plenty of liquid) Bring to a full boil over high heat stirring constantly, adding pectin to mixture and stirring in as strawberries release their juice.  Once mixture has reached a full, rolling boil, continue to boil for 1 minute.

Remove from heat.  The butter should have keep the mixture from foaming, but if there is some foam, skim off. Ladle into hot, sterilized canning jars to 1/4 inch of rim. Use funnel to keep edge of jars clean. Cap.  Process in hot water bath according to instructions.

As usual, this is a small batch recipe, you should end up with 2 - 3 quarts of jam (or 4 - 6 pints).  I recommend using the wide mouth jars.  If you end up with a jar that is not quite full, cap, let cool overnight ( no hot water bath required ) then place in the refrigerator for immediate use.  This jam will not be 'super sweet', like many of you may be used to.  If you would like a sweeter flavor switch the Dry Sherry to Sweet Sherry, omit the Cider Vinegar, and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Raw Sugar.

Fruits vary a great deal in their natural pectin content. In order to make fruit jams and jellies adding pectin is usually necessary. Raspberries and blueberries, for instance, are low in pectin, while apples, citrus fruits, cranberries, and currants are high. 

Fortunately if you don't know how to make your own, prepared pectin is readily available - it is completely natural, safe, and pectin is necessary for getting numbers of fruits to ‘jell’.  For this recipe you will need one package of the "No Sugar Needed Pectin" offered by the Ball Company.

Hot Water Bath or Pressure Canning ?


  1. This jam sounds delicious! I've never put sherry in my strawberry jam before, but it sounds amazing!

  2. I just started canning again this summer after years away. I have enjoyed your recipes this year. This one looks delicious. I was planning on making some strawberry jam this weekend; I would love to jazz it up with sherry.

  3. I can't wait until strawberries are ripe... We still have a little while in the northwest! This sounds so good!

  4. What a fabulous recipe, this looks absolutely delicious!! :)

  5. I made a similar recipe this spring with fresh strawberries and the addition of sherry is wonderful.