an explosion of flavors

The strawberry season here in Northern California peaks around mid-May, and there’s nothing quite like picking fresh, juicy strawberries from a local farm. Inspired by my recent strawberry-picking expedition, I decided to put a unique twist on classic strawberry jam by infusing it with black pepper and thyme. This isn’t your ordinary jam—it’s an explosion of sweet and savory flavors. Perfect for spreading on toast, pairing with scones or pastries, or adding to a cheese board, this delightful blend is sure to surprise and satisfy.

Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper & Thyme

Strawberry Picking for Mother’s Day

There is nothing like picking your own fresh fruit, and there are tons of farms that let you do it here in and around the Bay Area. Last year, on Mother’s Day weekend, we went up to Brentwood for cherry picking and it was so much fun. This Mother’s Day, to make the most of the berry season at its peak, we drove to a lovely farm in the Half Moon Bay area and picked a lot of juicy, fresh strawberries! My little girl was so cute, running around the orchard, popping sweet strawberries into her mouth.

After a couple of hours at the farm, we had gathered about 3 pounds of strawberries to bring home. After snacking on a ton, making chocolate-covered strawberries with some, and then freezing the remaining half to make quick smoothies or use later, I decided to make strawberry jam at home to finish up the last bunch.

Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper & Thyme

I always have some sort of jam in my refrigerator, mostly strawberry or raspberry. My daughter likes it for breakfast with waffles and pancakes. With a bunch of strawberries on hand, I took out my cooking school binder and flipped through the pages to find a recipe I had jotted down while one of my instructors talked about how easy it was to make jams at home. When I turned to the page with the recipe, I made an impromptu decision to take a little detour from it. I wanted to add a touch of excitement to the summer fruit and thought of infusing it with unconventional flavors that would complement the strawberries very well.

Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper & Thyme

I set the strawberries to simmer in a pot along with citrus juices and a few sprigs of homegrown thyme from my backyard, adding a delightful earthiness and a savory edge to the sweet fruit. To infuse a hint of Indian flavor, I freshly cracked Tellicherry black pepper from the wooden pepper mill on my countertop into the mix, imparting a subtle spiciness and wonderful warmth to the overall flavor of the jam.

Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper & Thyme

Adding a bit of confectioner’s or powdered sugar works wonders for jams, as it enhances their sweetness, while the corn starch in sugar acts as a thickening agent, giving the jam a jelly-like consistency. After simmering in the pot for about an hour, my entire house was filled with the sweet, tart fragrance of strawberries, and delicious, homemade jam was ready to be spread! You can use my recipe with any other fruit or mixture of different fruits and experiment with the ingredients. Homemade jams, stored in airtight containers, can last in the refrigerator for about 5-6 weeks.

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Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper & Thyme


  • Author: Vasanti
  • Yield: Makes about 1½ cups 1x

Description

A delicious twist on classic strawberry jam, infused with black pepper and thyme.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb (about 4 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled (see FAQs & Notes + Variations)
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 56 sprigs of thyme (see FAQs & Notes + Variations)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 23 tbsp confectioner’s sugar, for desired level of sweetness

Instructions

  • Place the berries in a medium saucepan.
  • Stir in the lemon and orange zest and squeeze the juices from the fruits.
  • Add in the thyme sprigs and followed by the freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Add a pinch of salt to balance out the flavors and simmer the mixture together for about 15-20 minutes till the fruit is cooked and turns mushy.
  • Stir in the confectioners sugar and continue simmering for 10-15 more minutes.
  • Take the pot off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Pull out and discard the thyme sprigs that might have separated from the leaves.
  • Using a potato masher or the back of a ladle, mash the fruit to make a chunky jam or purée it with a hand blender to make a smooth spread.
  • Let it cool completely before transferring it into an air-tight container.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 weeks.

Keywords: Quick & Easy

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Got frozen strawberries instead of fresh?

They work very well in the recipe and you don’t need to thaw them!

Do you need to strip the leaves off the thyme sprigs?

You can but its not necessary! You can fish out the sprigs afterwards that will separate from the leaves during the cooking process.

Recipe Variations

Substitute strawberries with other berries like raspberries, blueberries or blackberries!

Try rosemary, basil or tarragon in place of thyme.

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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