Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 8 - Sweet - Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve

Wow, week 8 of the cookbook challenge already. Can you believe it? And more food bloggers are still joining us. It's fantastic! Check out everyone who's participating over at Rilsta's blog.

I had no idea what I was going to make for this week's challenge, there were too many options, and I ended up making something that wasn't even on my shortlist at the start of the week. I received January's Australian Good Taste magazine in the mail on Wednesday, and when I got to page 21 I knew I'd found my recipe for the week. What's sweeter than jam?

This choice was made even easier by my local supermarket having a special on strawberries of $1.89/250g and the find I made on my first ever visit to Costco this week:

a 65g jar of Queen Vanilla Bean Paste is currently $10.88 at Coles ($16.74/100g), but this 320g baby set me back only $23.99 ($7.50/100g). Bargain! I also picked up AWW Bake for $44.95 which I've been coveting since Rilsta made the lemon white chocolate mudcake in week 1 of the cookbook challenge. Much cheaper than $100.95 at Borders, where I almost bought it last week!

Anyway, back to the challenge.

This was my first attempt at making jam (sorry, conserve) and it was so easy.

I halved the recipe, except for the vanilla, as I didn't really want 2 1/2 cups of conserve, although I kind of regret it now, and will have to make more soon. I'm consuming it much faster than I anticipated.

Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve

500g strawberries, washed and hulled (I also halved them, as I didn't want it too chunky)
500g caster sugar
40ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Strawberries have to be the most photogenic fruit!

Layer strawberries and sugar in a large bowl, cover, and allow to infuse overnight.

Transfer to a large saucepan with the lemon juice and vanilla. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring to the boil. Skim any froth that forms on the surface using a large metal spoon.

Cook, stirring often, for 25-30 minutes. I cooked mine for 25 minutes, and I probably should have stopped at 20.

Check if it's ready by placing a saucer in the freezer for 5 minutes, then spoon a little conserve onto it and return it to the freezer for 2 minutes. Touch it, and if it wrinkles and feels gel-like it's ready.

You probably can't see it, but trust me, it's wrinkled.

Spoon the hot conserve into clean, dry, glass jars. I heated mine (gently, on 70 degrees) in the oven first, but this probably isn't necessary, I'm just paranoid about mixing high and low temperatures and glass. Seal jars and invert for 2 minutes. Turn right side up and leave to cool. I used old pasta sauce jars, and it was pretty awesome that when they cooled the safety seal button depressed! Ok, maybe that's lame, but I was excited to see it.

If you're going to leave your strawberries whole, make sure you use a wide mouthed jar. I used quite narrow jars, and even with the strawberries halved it was awkward to spoon the hot conserve into them.

Don't forget to enter your creative Chai recipe at last week's post, for your chance to win some Bondi Chai. You've got one more week to think about it!

There you go. That's something by Kate.


  1. Haha yay for Costco! ;) I purchased that tube of vanilla bean paste as well - it's great value! Also, Bake is a fantastic book, I have made so many things from it that I had to put myself on a self-imposed blogging ban for that book.

    I've never made jam before - yours looks fantastic. I like jam with chunky bits of fruit.

  2. What's sweeter than jam is that great bargain you scored! Go you! I've never made jam before. But my friend once made me a jar of homemade strawberry jam, very much like yours. It was superb!

  3. OMG, I can't believe Borders wants to charge $100.95 for the AWW Bake book!! It's RRP is only supposed to be $79.95! You got it for a bargain at Costco! I'm sure you'll have lots of fun baking things out of that cookbook!

    You should also check out Big W and Target for cookbooks - they are often heavily discounted from the RRP.

    Costco is pretty awesome for cookbooks, as well as baking goodies. I bought a couple of cookbooks from Costco, that fantastic vanilla bean paste tube and an 8pk slab of flour! I love how you can just squeeze the vanilla out so cleanly!

  4. I gonna have to get myself down to Costco...that vanilla paste is so cheap! Love the jam - turned out a gorgeous colour!


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