Red, White & Black

One last recipe for the last days of strawberry season here in the Northeast.  This strawberry, white balsamic vinegar and black pepper jam has a fantastic flavor profile; almost savory, with the balsamic vinegar kick, yet sweet enough to enjoy on a muffin or scone.  Lovely flecks of crushed black pepper give it added zing and visual appeal.  The set was very loose, almost a thick sauce more than a jam, likely due to my overly ripe strawberries and limited sugar. But even so, this will be fantastic with chicken or turkey or on top of a sharp cheese scone. Definitely a keeper.

Adapted from the basic jam instructions on the package insert of Ball No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin.


Red, White & Black: Strawberry Jam with White Balsamic & Black Pepper


  • 4 lbs (about 12 cups) washed, hulled, strawberries (Mine were very ripe; include some underripe berries to boost the pectin and help the set.)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice (or unsweetened apple, grape, or raspberry juice)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 or 2, 1.75-oz  packages Ball No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin (see Options)
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil (optional)
  • 1 cup sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I used white balsamic, but regular would work just as well)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  1. Prepare canner, jars & lids.
  2. Using a potato masher, crush berries, one layer at a time, in a large stockpot (use your largest pot as this foams up to 3 or 4 times its volume). Add lemon and cranberry juice. Gradually stir in desired amount of pectin.  Add olive oil (or butter or margarine) if desired to reduce foaming. Bring to a fulling rolling boil, that cannot be stirred down, while stirring constantly over high heat.
  3. Add sugar, stirring while adding, and bring back to a full, rolling boil while stirring constantly. 
  4. Boil hard, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, pepper and salt.  Return to a boil and boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.  Fill hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about 7 cups.


  1. I used one package of pectin and the resulting jam has a very soft set, more of a thick sauce than a jam. Two packages of pectin, additional sugar, apple juice, or less ripe berries would all improve the set.
  2. With “no sugar” pectin, you don’t need to add any sugar at all; I added it to improve the set of the jam, and also to counteract the tartness of the vinegar.  I think honey would be a nice addition, flavor-wise, but it does not affect the set and mouthfeel as much as sugar.  If you prefer to add no sweetener at all, I would increase the pectin to two full packages.
  3. I used white balsamic vinegar to preserve the beautiful color of the strawberries; in this way you can also see little flecks of ground black pepper, mixing with the strawberry seeds.  Regular, dark balsamic vinegar will taste just as good, it will simply be a darker, more maroon, color jam.


Store jars in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.  Refrigerate after opening.


Early summer.


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