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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Strawberry Anise Hyssop Jam

Look at that… isn't it pretty?

Yes, I know, it looks just like any other jam. It's just a good old-fashioned basic strawberry jam recipe, but I added a little something.

An herb.

Anise Hyssop, also known as Agastache.  

my poor hands are stained from berries

One of my darling blogosphere friends that I've known for years suggested this herb to me a long time ago for my garden. Locally, there were no plants or seeds. Boo.

I could have ordered them, but never remembered.  Then, a few weeks ago while perusing the herb plants at a local garden center I found one plant! I snatched it up.

It's been growing like a champ and I've been pinching a leaf here and there to chew on. On a whim I chopped up a few and added to some sliced strawberries in sugar for a little dessert.

And that's when it hit me.

Strawberries and Anise Hyssop were meant for each other!

I'm sure this is old news, but it was a lovely moment none-the-less.

I had a long list of strawberry preserving projects already for this year and didn't think I could squeeze in an experimental recipe… but I did! When I went to try for just a few more pounds of the last of this season's berries and came home with 18 pounds I went for it.

Has anyone ever made this before? I've searched and searched and cannot find another recipe.

Surely, I'm not that brilliant.  Someone else has had to think of this.

But for lack of any other recipe I'm calling this one as mine. :]

There's a little more work involved. It's worth it.

When you are working over the strainer and the incredible smell reaches your nose you'll understand. You will eat this jam by the spoonful.

It's special. Like a dessert. Pair it with light, non-competing flavors.

Toast with butter. Cheesecake. Vanilla ice cream. Chewy bagel topped with Mascarpone and this jam would be a dream. If I didn't have celiac. Bugger.

Anyway.  Here it is. Please let me know what you think.

Strawberry Anise Hyssop Jam
[printer friendly]
about 8-9 4-ounce jars (about 4 half pints)

4 lbs fresh strawberries
2 cups sugar (i used an organic)
12-14 large (24-30 small) Anise Hyssop leaves gently rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained

Stack Anise Hyssop leaves on a cutting board and slice into wide 1/4-3/8" chiffonade.

Add to large 6-8 quart pot with the sugar, give it a stir.
I include about a handful of unripened or not completely ripe berries in my 4lbs for a little added natural pectin. Do not chop them small, halve small ones and quarter large. They don't cook down well and you will remove them later.

Wash, trim and chop your strawberries, adding them to the pot, and stirring occasionally as you work.

By the time you are done it will look like this…

Place the pot on the stove and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.

When the berries are starting to cook and just before they reach a simmer, give them a good smashing with a potato masher or back of a large spoon.

Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir gently, occasionally.
While simmering set up the next step.  You'll need a fork, a medium bowl to hold your solids and a sieve or fine strainer set over a large non-reactive bowl or pot.
Remove from heat and begin draining berries in small batches.  Stir gently with fork (so you don't snag your sieve) and remove all of the Anise Hyssop herbs and unripened strawberries that did not cook down.

Do not press solids as you do not want any in your liquid.

Return liquid to the stove on high heat and bring to a full boil.

Boil liquid down by about half, stirring often. This will take about 20-25 minutes.

Return the strawberry solids to the pot and add the lemon juice.

Stir well and reduce heat until a gentle simmer can be maintained. Stir frequently so that it does not scorch until a small dab of jam placed on a frozen plate, and returned to the freezer for about a minute, is firm.  It will not gel but will have a nice, non-runny consistency.

This will take about 8-10 minutes.

Not canning:  Pour into sterile hot jars and allow to cool before refrigerating. Use within 1-2 weeks.

Canning:  Pour into sterile hot 4 ounce jars, 1/4" headspace (although i found 3/8" was better) and process for 5 minutes.

I had several jars in my first batch not seal. I found slightly more headspace and allowing the jars to sit in the canning pot for 1-2 minutes after I removed it from the heat gave me all perfect seals the next batch)


Be prepared, you will want to lick clean every spoon and pot that you used. No joke.

Do not be stingy on the Anise Hyssop. My leaves were about 2" wide in my first batch, but I only had smaller 1" leaves left for the second so I used a lot. 

I set my jars in my canning pot and boiled them to sterilize while I made the jam. Boil for at least 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and keep in the hot water until you are ready for them.

You can make this in smaller batches by reducing the recipe and sticking to proportions:  1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 4-6 Anise Hyssop leaves to each 1 lb of strawberries.

This jam is best served room temperature or warm.  Pair it with very light flavors, nothing overwhelming. It has a delicate flavor that lingers, you don't want to miss it.

Quite honestly, I prefer to just eat it right out of the jar. I will be doing mega cardio this week.

If you make this, please comment and let me know what you thought. :]


LP Payne said...

hi there - thinking this is a great idea, i have a huge bushy anise hyssop plant egging me to use it in something tasty! good idea thx

Micaella Lopez said...

I have been dying to make some homemade jam, we currently have 7 jars in my fridge, but I'll definitely be using this recipe when comes time!
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Christine Mercer-Vernon said...

:) It's worth it! I grow anise hyssop in my garden and sometimes it's not quite bit enough when strawberries are in. I Just prepare my berries and freeze them in the quantity needed then defrost and make my jam when I have enough AH. It doesn't make much so I'd make a double batch. It's hands down the most fought over jam in our house!!

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