I am going to take a moment to sing the praises of Pomona’s Universal Pectin. I’ve never used this product before this year. In general I haven’t been a fan of pectin and haven’t used any type of pectin in quite a few years. One of the reasons has been cost; purchasing pectin (which isn’t inexpensive) is an added cost and when your budget is consistently tight like mine usually is, this can be a stumbling block. A second reason is that I like my jam on the looser side. This can be achieved with most fruits by cooking the jam down. There are two downsides to this: you have to use about equal quantities of fruit to sugar and you have to cook the jam for quite a long time. I hadn’t tried Pomona’s before because it is more expensive than regular pectin, however you can get more batches of jam out of one box of Pomona’s and you can make a lower sugar jam (or even no sugar). With the cost of sugar continually going up every year, this can be a significant monetary savings in addition to the obvious health benefits of decreasing sugar content.
I was pleased that the instructions included in the Pomona’s box gave directions for formulating your own jam recipes. Using some recipes I found on Pinterest along with the directions in the packet, I formulated this recipe for Strawberry, Balsamic, Thyme & Black Pepper Jam. The pepper gives a nice little warm bite and the thyme and balsamic are unexpected background flavors that give a little earthiness to balance the sweetness of the berries. This was delicious on some warm, buttery biscuits with breakfast this morning. The consistency of this jam is a little thicker than I generally like, so I may decrease the amount of pectin in the next batch.
One note about using Pomona’s Universal Pectin, the pectin comes in two packages (within the same box). One is pectin and the other is monocalcium phosphate (which helps to activate the pectin). The pectin is measured out and added to the sugar in a recipe and the monocalcium phosphate packet is mixed with 1/2 cup of water and stored in the refrigerator and used as needed per recipes.
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin
- 6 cups chopped strawberries
- 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 6 teaspoons calcium water
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- If you are going to be hot water bath canning this recipe, prepare your jars and lids in a safe manner. Keep jars and lids warm and get your hot water canner ready.
- Thoroughly mix sugar and pectin in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- Combine strawberries, balsamic vinegar, calcium water, thyme and black pepper in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Place pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. While mixture is heating, stir frequently to prevent sticking. I like to whisk this to get a nice consistency and to break the fruit up a bit, but stirring with a spoon will also do the job. After mixture comes to a boil, let it boil gently for 2-3 minutes. Add sugar/pectin mixture, stir or whisk thoroughly and bring to a boil; stir frequently while mixture is heating to a boil.
- When the jam has come to a boil, remove from heat and ladle into hot jars, leaving ¼” head space. Process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.
- Yield: 4 half pints