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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19 Responses to “strawberry jam with balsamic and black pepper”

  1. 1
    LiztheChef — May 2, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

    Your berries are gorgeous! I need to get jammin’ before our local season ends here in San Diego.

  2. 2
    Winnie — May 2, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

    I LOVE this!!! I made strawberry black pepper syrup last year, which I added to sparkling water for homemade “sodas” last summer. Can’t wait until my strawberries are ready to eat…

  3. 3
    Lindsay — May 2, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

    Love the addition of black pepper! I did a batch of strawberry balsamic and strawberry vanilla and strawberry blood orange. Wanted to do a strawberry chocolate too but, alas, ran out of berries! Will have to go picking again before the season is over. 🙂

    • 3.1
      Merry-Jennifer — May 3, 2012 @ 7:06 am

      Sadly, our season is ending now. I think we picked the last of the berries at the farm we visited on Saturday.

  4. 4
    Megan — May 2, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

    One of my friends makes this flavor jam for her business and it is wonderful!

    I did want to add, though – if you are going to process this in a hot-water bath, this recipe likely doesn’t use enough sugar or pectin to ensure a good, safe set. Regular pectin is pretty different from Pomona’s, because the calcium water is a key component of what makes Pomona’s work. Just wanted to put that out there in case someone tried canning this and it didn’t work!

    • 4.1
      Merry-Jennifer — May 3, 2012 @ 7:06 am

      Megan – You’re absolutely right. I’ve updated the recipe so as to not lead anyone astray. Thanks for pointing this out!

  5. 5
    Paula — May 3, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    The addition of the black pepper in this jam is really intriguing. It looks amazing. You should take a sample back to the Australian’s booth at the market and let him taste it. Sorry you came home with two unneeded jars of his jam. I can imagine it would be hard to resist a sales pitch from a good looking Australian with some nice looking jam and a great accent 🙂

  6. 6

    This jam sounds absolutely divine! I’m still waiting for strawberry season to arrive here, but I’m bookmarking this recipe for when it does.

  7. 7

    This looks so delicious, and who can turn down a tall guy with an accent? 😉

  8. 8
    Liz — May 3, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

    Wow – I had no idea it was so easy; would have never thought to use the microwave! Thanks for the great idea 🙂

  9. 9
    myfudo — May 3, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

    I can’t go home from the produce store not carrying my week’s share of juicy and pretty strawberries. I love baking with them, cooking with them…Spring is Strawberry time. This is something i’d love to try =)

  10. 10
    Angie@Angiesrecipes — May 4, 2012 @ 5:59 am

    The jam looks so fresh and delectable. Love the peppery touch.

  11. 11
    autumn straw — May 8, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

    I was wondering if this would work with Spleda or Truvia? My father has diabetes and I try and make things that he can enjoy. Anyone have any ideas?

    • 11.1
      Merry-Jennifer — May 8, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

      You could certainly try it. It may not set up firmly. But, if you can find Pomona’s Pectin and replace it for the regular pectin, it’s easier to use sugar replacements — or even honey or agave syrup.

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  15. 12
    Sarah @ Well Dined — November 7, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

    So delicious and easy – thank you!

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