strawberry jam with balsamic and black pepper

I bought two jars of jam on Monday at our local farmers market. I had no intention of buying jam. I bought those two jars because I’m a sucker.

After taking my daughter to gymnastics that afternoon, we stopped by the farmers market to browse the selection. It’s a small market, with only ten or so booths set up in the peak months, now through the summer. In the winter months, there might be just a couple of farmers selling their produce. On Monday, though, there were some good things available. Several farmers had fresh tomatoes, greens of some sort or another, lots of zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, and cucumbers. A couple of booths had pints of fresh plump blueberries, and many of those pints were filled with berries almost the size of a dime. One local goat farmer had raw goat’s milk, goat’s milk ricotta, and fresh eggs.

As we were leaving, arms loaded with bags of summer squash and blueberries and a token batch of goat’s milk ricotta, Maddie dragged me over to a table filled with jam jars of all sizes. The jam maker was a tall Australian man wearing a cowboy hat. His accent was lovely. He wasn’t so bad looking, either.

I explained to the jam maker that I had just made a batch of strawberry jam, just two days before. And no, I really didn’t need any jam, but his certainly looked good. He asked my daughter if she’d like a taste. This was a sneaky move, of course. What eight-year old turns down free samples of sweet jam and apple butter? Not mine.

While winning over my daughter, one lick at a time, the jam maker told me about the flavors he’d created and about his upcoming ideas for new batches. Before I knew it, the Australian had won me over. His passion for jam-making and combining new flavors, his sweetness to my child, and yes, his accent — all of this resulted in me coming home with $10 less in my pocket and two jars of jam we didn’t need.

So, about that jam I made. The Australian’s strawberry jam was good, but mine takes the cake.

After going strawberry picking with the kids on Saturday, we had an abundance of strawberries. Seven pounds of strawberries, in fact. Making preserves of some type seemed the only rational thing to do with that many berries. Other than eating them by the handful, that is.

Jennie is always a reliable recipe source – not to mention friend – and she didn’t fail me here. I used her strawberry jam recipe as a model, mostly because I loved her idea of using the microwave to cut the preparation time. Genius, I tell you. I can hardly wait until her cookbook comes out.

Yield: approx 3 cups

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Strawberry Jam with Balsamic and Black Pepper

This recipe is adapted from Jennifer Perillo's Strawberry Jam recipe. I used regular pectin since that's what I had on hand, and I added some balsamic vinegar and black pepper.

Strawberries plus balsamic vinegar plus black pepper might just well be the new bacon.


2 quarts strawberries (approximately 8 cups), washed and hulled
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
4 grinds fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons pectin


In a large glass microwave-safe bowl, mash strawberries using a potato masher or fork to desired consistency. Microwave on high in the microwave, covered, until strawberries are almost boiling, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, whisk together sugar and pectin. Stir sugar and pectin mixture into berries. Add balsamic vinegar and black pepper, stir to combine. Cook on high for 3 more minutes, taking care to cover the bowl well with a paper towel (very important!), until thick and bubbly.

Transfer to a container, let cool, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

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26 Responses to “key lime pie with vanilla whipped cream”

  1. Alan Cooke — July 4, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

    Key Lime Pie is one of our family faves! Included it in a recent post myself 😉 Will have to try the cream cheese addition, sounds yum!!

  2. Maggie at Eat Boutique — July 4, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    My father in law sends me key lime juice from Florida all the time. I go through recipe after recipe for great key lime pie. Yours is next! I love the addition of coconut to the crust. 🙂

  3. Annapet — July 4, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

    Will definitely go full fat on the cream cheese! I’ve NEVER been interested in Key Lime Pie until yours came along. I have to thank our mutual friend Alan Cooke for the initial RT.

    Thank you for sharing! 😉

  4. The sweet/tart combo is exactly what I love so much about key lime pies. It’s so rare that I have one, though, seeing that it can be pretty tough to get key limes up here.

    This looks absolutely divine and I love the story that goes along with it.

  5. Macaroni Mama — July 4, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

    A big thumbs up, MJ. It was delicious!

  6. The Duo Dishes — July 4, 2011 @ 11:09 pm

    Squeezing the juice is the fun part! We’ve definitely made this pie a couple of times over the last summers. It’s always a hit.

  7. Jen — July 4, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

    My dad loves Key Lime Pie. We vacationed often to Sarasota and always ate at a restaurant that had excellent key lime. I wish I could think of the name of it but I think it had “Tomato” in it.

  8. sweetsugarbelle — July 5, 2011 @ 12:23 am

    Simply beautiful. The beach looks like heaven. I miss it so.

  9. Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — July 5, 2011 @ 2:00 am

    Sweet and tart is just perfect dessert for me (except when chocolate is involved it has to be sweet and nutty)This looks wonderful.

  10. sam henderson — July 5, 2011 @ 7:13 am

    Well, that just looks wonderful. I do so love a key lime pie.

  11. Winnie — July 5, 2011 @ 8:12 am

    I love key lime pie. Yours looks fantastic, and your writing here is just lovely, MJ. Happy summer…and happy pie day!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — July 5th, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

      Thank you so much, Winnie. I appreciate the writing comment more than you know.

  12. Lucy@acookandherbooks — July 5, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    Love Key lime pie – this one’s a beaut!

  13. Sally — July 5, 2011 @ 11:05 am

    I want a piece of that pie. Now. For breakfast!

  14. One of my most favorite pies ever; yours sounds wonderful! And I love the Atlantic Ocean beach photos. I spent ten years in NC and left part of my heart there forever; reminds me of many family vacations in North and South Carolina.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — July 5th, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

      Anytime you want to come visit, we have a room for you, Barb!

  15. Renée J. (RJ Flamingo) — July 5, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

    It’s not traditional, but it sure sounds good! And yes, I squeezed all 14 of those little buggers to get a half-cup of juice for mine. :-)) Sounds like you had a perfectly idyllic weekend!

  16. Key lime pie is my favorite… Love this!

  17. Rachel — July 5, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

    This looks wonderful! I definitely associate key lime pie with my Florida vacations. We went to Palm Coast last year and I’m pretty sure I had some there! I’ve never actually made a key lime pie though, but your recipe makes me want to try it out. Thanks for sharing!

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  19. Paula — July 7, 2011 @ 10:58 am

    Glad you were able to *get away* for a few nights and enjoy the water and the weather. Your pie looks beautiful!

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  21. Wow, what a pie! It looks like it came straight from a bakery. Great job. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog till Monday and I’d love it if you’d come by and link your pie up.

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  23. Courtney — July 17, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

    I’m recently obsessed with Key Lime flavored desserts. Glad I found this! 🙂

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