I have a confession to make. I'm scared of jam. Making my own, I mean. It's ridiculous, I know. You hear all these horror stories about people dying horrible deaths from eating their home-canned goods in which the seals had broken! Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I still prefer not to poison myself. Also, so much gear is required for the endeavor. You have to have jars and racks and tongs...and you have to boil things and sterilize things! I'm all about a clean kitchen, but the words sterilization and food together just...turns me off. And...it might have something to do with the fact that I don't own any of that gear I mentioned.
But that won't stop me from making jam! Ever heard of freezer jam? For those not hip to the lingo, that would be jam that you freeze, rather than can, to preserve it. It's made much the same method. I made some recently...and I may have boozed it up a bit. That's what I do, right? When I saw the recipe call for grape juice, I immediately made the jump to wine. I perused my wine cabinet and decided that Gewürztraminer would fit the bill.
Ever heard of it? Don't let those two little dots above that u scare you off! Say it with me: Guh-wurts-tra-mee-ner. Look at you, speakin' all fancy. It's not as popular a varietal as Chardonnay or Riesling, but if you've never tried it before, you should. It's totally tasty. I'm really not a wine connoisseur, so this won't be the most accurate description, but Gewürztraminer is a bright and light white wine. It's floral and fruity, a little bit dry and a little bit sweet. Only slightly! I'm not usually a fan of sweet wines, but this wine isn't cloying by any means. Actually, one of my favorite wines is the late harvest Gewürztraminer from Navarro in the Anderson Valley. Heaven in a bottle.
So I made a strawberry Gewürztraminer freezer jam that turned out so bright and complex, I was eating it all week. I really held back on the sugar because I wanted to make sure to taste the wine, and I think strawberries are sweet enough on their own. But if you like sweeter jams, you can always up the sugar. You can also try a different wine varietal! I would suggest sticking with sweeter wines, nothing too dry. My ingestion method of preference? That would be on a sesame cracker with some fig goat cheese I bought at a Costco roadshow a few weeks ago. So...amazingly...good. A fresh-baked buttermilk biscuit would do nicely as well.
I wanted to tackle my own jam because store-bought jams tend to be, well, mostly sugar. I don't think sugar is evil. Not by any means. But when I eat jam, I want to feel like I'm eating fruit, not eating dessert. You gotta pick and choose your sugar battles, right?
Strawberry Gewürztraminer Jam
3 cups strawberries
1 3/4 cups Gewürztraminer
1/4 cup sugar
1 pouch pectin (I used the Ball no sugar needed variety)
- Mash the strawberries with a potato masher into small chunks. (Don't use the food processor for this, I hear if you break it down too much, you break down the pectin and it won't set)
- Combine the strawberries, wine, and pectin in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil (don't jump the gun, let it really boil!), and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the sugar until it's dissolved.
- Pour the mixture into freezer jam containers (or any freezer-safe container that tickles your fancy), leaving at least half an inch of room from the top of the container, and move to the refrigerator to set up overnight.
De-boozify it: Use white grape juice if you aren't so wine inclined!