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Jun 8, 2011

Strawberry Preserves/Jam

Kinda adapted from Nigella Lawson

Jams, jellies, preserves or spreads ....

When I was little, Mum used to buy marmalade coz that's what she likes with her toast every morning. I know of very few kids who like the bitter peels and I was one of those who did not (my tastebuds have grown up since then and I like lots of peel in my marmalade now). She'd bought some strawberry jam for me to shut me up, but back then the only good quality ones were imported from England and good as they were, I still complained there weren't enough fruit in it. Then I had my first PBJ sandwich in the US of A and complained there wasn't ANY fruit in it. Then I learnt of the differences between jams, jellies, preserves and spreads.

In short:

- Jelly is made from fruit juice

- Jam is made from pureed fruit

- Preserves are made from whole fruit

- Spreads are made from whole fruit and/or pureed fruit

All I know now is, jelly is not for me. You can't convince me it's made from fruits unless I see some fruit in it.

We only used to get imported strawberries on our shelves. Since then our local highland folks have been doing a lot of R&D and initially turned out with some very stunted looking berries .... but that was years ago. Lately, things have improved, maybe in such a way that I really don't want to question too much how they've managed to come up with gorgeous, red, sweet and luscious strawberries that can give the imported ones a run for their money. A friend went uphill for a weekend retreat, to get some fresh air, she claims (yeah right, with all the tour buses) and returned with baskets of large, beautiful berries. Making strawberry jam before had been an expensive indulgence, but now .... Yay!

(I would have loved to post the pic of those lovely strawberries but I can't seem to find where I stored it or if I'd accidentally deleted it ... aarrrggh!! Will do another post when and if I do find it.)


3 cups ripe strawberries (rinsed and hulled)

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbs lemon juice (abt half a small lemon)

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

( Don't be surprised by the addition of the balsamic vinegar. It actually accentuates the "strawberryness" of the strawberries. Don't believe me? Try it out :D )

*Note: the proper ratio is 1 cup fruit to 1 cup sugar. The ratio I used is about as reduced as it should get or it won't gel ... without using artificial pectin.


Quarter or halve the strawberries if they're large in size. (Some folks puree half the amount of fruit but I like mine unpureed with big chunks of strawberries)

Combine fruit, sugars, lemon juice and vinegar in a deep stainless steel pot.

Stir to mix evenly.

Simmer over low heat until sugar is melted.

Increase heat and bring to a boil.

Lower heat to medium and simmer without stirring for about 20 mins. Drag a wooden spoon gently around the bottom of the pot to make sure there's nothing burnt and sticking ... do not stir vigorously.

While the jam is simmering, put a ceramic plate in the freezer. After 15 mins, put a small dollop on the cold plate, let it come to room temperature and if it's formed some wrinkles, it's done. Otherwise, simmer for another minute or 2 or 5 (it all depends on how juicy the fruits are) and check again.

Skim off white foamy bits. (Actually there's nothing wrong with the foamy bits, it's still jam, just not too appetizing to look at)

Leave to cool 20 mins.

Store in clean, sterilized jars.

If jars are not properly sealed, store in refrigerator.

*Note: This isn't too gel-like, just a little runny and spreads easily.


  1. I didn't realise preserves were different from jam. We learn something new everything, today I've learnt many things - preserves/jams, Malaysia has mutated strawberries...:)

    "You can't convince me it's made from fruits unless I see some fruit in it"
    Whats your favourite wine?)

  2. Looks great - intense color, flavor and aroma of strawberries!

  3. Firstly: I LOVE your photo of that jam just dripping off the spoon. It's killing me - I want to put my finger underneath to taste! Secondly, I adore adding the balsamic to the jam; I've done it in desserts and salads but never even crossed my mind to do it to jam, too. You're brilliant! Great insight into the different possiblities in USA.

  4. will remember the addition of vinegar it is new to me
    can't wait for the berry season here to make

  5. Very nice color, can be delicious.

  6. Ping, your preserves are gorgeous! I was the same way about marmalade as a child...I wanted sweet jelly. Now, that's the opposite of what I prefer :) I'm so glad you found some wonderful berries~

  7. 3Cookies: LOL!!! You crack me up every time! Wine? I was referring to jellies with that comment but since you asked, anything that has alcohol in it, I won't notice after a few :D Oh, how do you like my mutant berry man?

    Eva Toneva: Thanks much!

    Jill@MadAboutMacarons: Haha! Pity we can't have scratch and sniff/taste on the computer.

    Torviewtoronto: It's really good! Enjoy!

    Kati: Thanks! :D

    Lizzy: Strange how our tastes change as we get "wiser" eh?

  8. I am with ya on the preserves thing. Nothing compares to biting into a sugary sweet chunk of fruit with my toast in the morning. Great recipe!

  9. Annie's Dish: Yup, chunk ... good word. :D

  10. Great post! I had no idea what the difference between jelly, jams, spreads, and preserves were! And like you, I like fruit chunks!

  11. I love your strong man strawberry! Haha! You are so creative. As a child I couldn't stand marmalade. I have to admit I still haven't tried it in my adulthood yet. I'm sure I would love it since foods I once dispised actually excite me now. This recipe sounds delish. Yummy!

  12. Ping-The addition of the brown sugar and the balsamic vinegar is new to me, but I trust you on this one to be amazing, just by the sounds of it and looking at the super yummy photo of the strawberry preserves. Love it, and thanks for the great tips that I will for sure try it your way!

  13. Tiffany: Thanks!

    Pretend Chef: Hi Rochelle, I'm happy you like my muscle man :D and yeah, I know what u mean about liking foods now that you used to hate ... there's one thing I still can't get into ... durians!

    Elisabeth: Hellooo! Using balsamic sounded strange to me too at first but I bravely tried it and since then, I'm hooked! Hope you will like it as much as I do.

  14. I love your breakdown of jellys and jams! Ive never known the difference :D

  15. I usually eat my strawberries with balsamic vinegar! so yummy!

  16. BabeKL: Hey! You must be the only other person besides me who does that! Friends think I'm nuts.

  17. Thanks for the recipe, Ping :). Will try it if I can source anymore jam jars ..kakaka...used up all the empty bottles. Neway, I bought the strawberries from SS2 pasar mlm(mon RM6) and Chow Yang Pasar Malam (Thurs RM5). Tomorrow the strawberries at SS2 should be around RM5 i think coz i saw nearly every stall also selling this brand of strawberries. Over stocked maybe.

    As for the cameron strawberry stall, I think I saw it before at SS2 pasar malam(opposite McDonald) But past few round I went there, I cant seem to see that stall anymore. Usually that stall also sells flowers from Cameron Highland. Prev I didnt buy coz not fond of Cameron Strawnberries. Mostly sour.

  18. Hi, Small Kucing. Hope you like the taste of this version. I've found some very nice jam jars in Parkson Subang Parade.
    Thanks for the info. Will check out those places you mentioned.
    Ya, the Cameron's strawberries aren't always the nicest but they have better ones these days, comparable to Korean ones... sometimes.

  19. Hi Ping. Found the Cameron Strawberry vendor that you mentioned at SS2 pasar malam yesterday. He said he used to sell at TTDI night market long time ago. Now he sells at SS2 night market and The Curve. He said he will be at the Curve street market every Saturday and Sunday selling strawberries.

    Hope you dont mind, i have linked my jam post to your post so that my readers can get a more professional jam making advice ..hehehe...mine half past 6. :p

    1. Mind?! I'm honored you think my version is professional ... LOL!! Who cares if it's half past 6 when it tastes right? Right?
      Aaaarrgghh!!! I totally forgot to go to the pasar malam last night! Guess I'll have to wait patiently for next Monday or maybe visit the Curve this weekend. Thanks so much for the info!

  20. Hi Ping,
    I am interested to make this boys loves strawbweeris jam.
    I don't have balsamic vinegar, do you have any idea what can this be substitute with?
    Thanks so much..:)
    I love your starwberry man ...hehe

    1. Hi Mui Mui, I'm happy and honored you're considering making this. You don't need a substitute for the balsamic, just omit it altogether. It does bring out the strawberry flavors tho but not a big deal if it isn't there. Hope you and kids love it! Do let me know how it turns out :) Enjoy!

    2. Btw, Mui Mui, I've changed the cooking time to about 20 mins. It really depends on how juicy the berries are. It's better to undercook and get a little runnier jam but you can reheat it to thicken than to have a too thick jam.