Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper and Fresh Mint Recipe

Confiture de Fraises au Poivre Noir et à la Menthe Fraîche

[Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper and Fresh Mint]

This is another one of the jams I made last summer, during my jam-making spree.

The recipe comes from a great little book by Christine Ferber, the Jam Fairy, simply titled “Mes Confitures”. After a section with tips and techniques, which is kept nice and short, Christine goes on to share over seventy of her recipes.

They are organized by season, and I find this clever and wonderfully suited : jam-making is really the art of canning an ephemeral moment of the year, to be enjoyed later when nostalgia strikes. And just like memories are often sweeter than reality was at the time, jam is the memory of the fruit, and is, indeed, sweeter and more concentrated.

Some of Christine’s recipes are classics, but some are very inventive and tempting. Spring is the time for Rosemary and Acacia Honey Rhubarb Jam. In the summer, we’ll make a Lemon, Lemongrass and Garden Raspberry Jam. Fall will come, and with it a Chestnut and Vanilla Pear Jam. As for winter, it will bring us an Orange, Chocolate and Banana Jam.

I made this jam last year with small strawberries from Brittany, and it was the first jam I ever made. I think I let it reduce a little too much, and only got two jars out of it, when I probably should have gotten more.

The result is a very concentrated and very sweet jam, which is utterly delicious : rarely have I tasted such a vivid strawberry taste in a jam. Industrial strawberry jams are usually pureed, and I think it’s a real pity : here the crystallized strawberries have stayed whole, you can see their pretty shapes in the syrup, and you can bite into each one, sending shockwaves of strawberry flavor to your jubilating palate.

It works extremely well with bread of course, or to sweeten yogurt. I can’t really say the black pepper or mint shine through, though. I suspect it is because the jam is so concentrated, but I have upped the amount in the recipe below anyway (from 5 leaves and 5 grains to 10 of each).

Confiture de Fraises au Poivre Noir et à la Menthe Fraîche

– 1.1 kg fresh strawberries
– 800 g crystallized sugar (This is a special sugar that jellifies better than ordinary sugar. Substitute regular granulated sugar if you can’t find it.)
– the juice of one lemon
– 10 leaves of fresh mint
– 10 grains of black pepper, freshly ground

Rinse the strawberries quickly under cold water. Dry with a kitchen towel, and cut off their stems. Cut them in halves or quarters if they’re big, leave the small ones whole.

Put the strawberries together with the sugar and the lemon juice in a porcelain dish, such as a terrine dish. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, and let macerate overnight.

The next day, put the strawberry mixture in a large saucepan (Christine Ferber uses a “bassine à confiture”, a special copper pan — I use a red tin cocotte), and bring just to a simmer. Pour the mixture back into the dish, cover with parchment paper, and let rest in the refrigerator overnight again.

On the third day, put a saucer in the freezer. Wash the glass jars and their lids carefully, then soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes, and set them out to dry upside down on a clean kitchen towel.

Pour the mixture through a silk sieve (I just used a regular sieve). Bring the syrup you’ve gathered to a boil, and let it boil for ten minutes. The goal temperature, if you have a candy thermometer, which I don’t, is 105°C (221°F). Remove the foam cautiously with a spoon (I personally leave the foam alone, I don’t mind the foam).

Add in the strawberries, the mint and the pepper. Bring to a boil for another 5 minutes, stirring gently. Remove the foam again if you want.

Take the saucer out of the freezer, and put a drop of jam on it. Tilt the saucer, and see if the jam is set. If not, let it boil for another minute, then test again until you’ve reached the desired consistency.

Pour the jam into the jars until they are full, wipe carefully if there was any spillage and close the lids tightly. Let cool to room temperature upside-down on the counter, then store in a cool and dark place for a few months.

Important disclaimer! This jarring method (boiling the jars then closing them tightly and letting them cool upside down) is one that’s been commonly practiced in France for generations and generations. However, using a sterilizing machine and rubber-lidded jars is the only way to be absolutely safe. For more information on home-canning, click here.

  • Luisa

    Hi Clotilde,
    This looks lovely – I wish I could taste it! Keep the posts about the jams from Christine Ferber coming! She’s so great. I would so much love to buy her book, but am concerned about the English translation; I wonder if it wouldn’t be safer to just buy the French version and cook from that than risk cooking with badly translated recipes, which can often just ruin the end result. Perhaps jam-making need not be so stringent, though? I assume you’re cooking from the original French book… Anyway, a wonderful post and the jam looks fantastic.

  • Matilda

    Sounds fabulous, Clotilde! Homemade jam is so much better than store-bought. Last strawberry season, I was inspired to make a strawberry balsamic vinegar and black pepper freezer jam, and was it ever tasty. But I love your writing and your blog is very inspiring!

  • Josie

    Mmm, I think sweet yogurt/strawberry or cherry jam is the best flavour combo in the world. Well, except for PB&J, that is. :)

  • http://www.web-ho.com/blog Linus

    Oh, my. Now I can’t concentrate; my mind is sniffing over all the tastes in your piece. It sounds so wonderful, wish I were there!

  • Sher

    AHHH, that sounds so fabulous!! You are nudging me back to making jam again. I used to make jam and preserves every year, and finding the right fruits, just at the height of their perfection is the only way to do it. I urge anyone to make some strawberry jam, with real strawberries. By that, I mean the smaller ones that still have the flavor and fragrance that a strawberry was meant to possess.

    Sher

  • xk

    goodness, that picture of the yogurt and jam together looks ridiculously delicious. Very thick yogurt, isn’t it?

  • http://www.himonkey.net monkey

    you have moved me to a haiku!

    your musings on jam
    make my heart dance with delight
    and my hands stir pots!

  • Anne

    Bonjour Clotilde,
    oh, that looks soooo good, I will try that.
    I have not seen Christine Ferbers book, but I will look for it.
    Every year I make lots of jams, BBQ sauces, plum sauce etc. The best ever and most interesting I have made is a trice cooked green tomato jam. I got the recipe from my Mom when I visited her in Montner just outside Perpignan 2 years ago. She had this old french cook book. As I grow many (lots!) tomato plants, they did not all ripen before a touch of frost hit here on the West Coast of Canada in November. I had to pick the rest of the tomatoes while they were green.
    It took me 3 days to make the jam as the tomatoes have to cook and rest 3 times. By the time it is done, the jam has a slight caramel green colour. Just perfect. I mostly serve it after dinner with a selection of cheese and nuts.
    Thanks for keeping us entertained with your great writing!

    Anne

  • http://www.xaire.net Brianna

    Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to try making this. Strawberries! Black pepper! Mint! Oh my.

  • http://edibletulip.typepad.com Daphne

    Surprisingly, strawberry jam also melds well with tarragon. I like mint with rhubarb m’self!

  • hilary

    That sounds so good — I’m definitely trying it, especially since I just picked up some Gaviota strawberries (they’re supposed to be better than the harder, commercial versions we get here in California) at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market yesterday. In fact, I’ve already got the concotion “marinating” in the fridge — I had to use lime juice, though, instead of lemon. I’ve got Ferber’s book, but haven’t tried anything until now!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Luisa – I’m sure you could cook from the French version, as the recipes are not very complicated, and pretty much always the same process, so once you have one figured out, the others are very similar.

    Matilda – Freezer jam? Interesting! Would you share the recipe?

    Monkey – Thanks for the haiku, I loved it!

    Anne – That green tomato jam sounds absolutely lovely. Are the green tomatoes a special kind, or are they unripe red tomatoes?

    Hilary – Let me know hoe it turns out, I’m sure the lime juice will be a nice variation.

    Daphne – Mmm, tarragon, good suggestion.

  • Hilary

    I finished the jam and we’ve been eating it every morning on toast (the yummy, pillowy kind from a Japanese bakery called St. Honore). As I said, I used lime juice instead of lemon and we really liked it. Two peeves: my jam didn’t set up very well (I should’ve done the cold saucer test, but instead boiled till it reached 220) and the black pepper didn’t come through as I would have liked (I doubled it per Clotilde’s recommendation). Still, a great jam and it inspired me to make another Ferber jam — Apricot with Vanilla, which we haven’t opened yet.

  • teri

    I’m in Indiana and have access to a great U-pick organic place with wonderful small berries. Made the jam after converting recipe with great success. A real winner in my book. Would love the recipe for the chestnut vanilla pear jam as we grow pears and chestnuts> Great sight.

  • teri

    Still would be interested in the chestnut pear jam recipe. Chestnuts are falling off the trees and pears in the cooler waiting for me!!! Teri

  • Jessica

    can anyone tell me how to include white wine in an apricot jam recipe?
    Should a good apricot jam recipe add a liquid?

  • Rowena

    This is for Teri from Indiana who has access to a u-pick organic berry place. I live in Indiana also and would like to find one. Can you share your information?
    Thanks!
    Rowena

  • Barbara

    I’m looking forward to making this recipe soon, while strawberries are plentiful. Does 10 grains of black pepper mean 10 peppercorns, freshly ground?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Barbara – Yes, you should use 10 peppercorns. Happy jam making!

  • coing

    I think 10 leaves of mint is definitely too much.
    The mint and pepper are supposed to enhance the strawberry flavor, which is what you reported, Clothilde, but mint is such a strong flavor, it can easily overwhelm.

    Of course, maybe MY mint is just very potent!
    Anyhow, thanks for the recipe.

  • Naomi

    I’ve just discovered your site and can’t wait to explore further. I found a simpler version of this recipe on the internet and made it a couple of weeks ago. (It’s early spring in Australia, strawberries are cheap and plentiful.) It’s the first time I’ve made jam and I’m hooked. I served it with date and lemon scones – sensational.

  • Andy Crane

    Hello!

    I am thinking of making this delectable jam for summer wedding favors!

    Does anyone know how much jam one recipe yields? I am thinking of doing 4 oz quilted mason jars…

    THanks!
    Andy

  • Tracy Winsor

    I finally got around to making this jam and it was wonderful. However, not much mint or pepper flavor. My family loves it though, so it won’t take long to need a new batch. I will probably add a few more mint leaves and maybe 12-13 peppercorns.

  • http://naturally-delicious.blogspot.com/ renee johnson

    This is just the recipe I need for the half flat of strawberries sitting on my counter

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Lovely! Do report back on your results!

  • http://csamom.wordpress.com csamom

    Increasing the peppercorns and mint by 50% each created a nice blend of all three flavors in my jam.

    This will be one of my new favorites!

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