Vanilla and Strawberry Jam

FOR at least the last 10 years, a cupboard in my house has been filled with homemade jams. Every winter, the strawberry stock is replenished and we somehow make it last through to the next year. I very rarely eat any other jam but when I do, I am reminded of how much better homemade jam is than that thick, processed, gelatinous supermarket stuff.

What I love about this jam is, well, a lot. I love hulling the strawberries and being tempted to do the ol' one for you (saucepan), one for me! I love that the whole house fills with the intense scent of sweetened strawberries. I love watching the glass-like syrup bubble away, allowing the strawberries and vanilla become best friends. I love watching those chunks of strawberry (real, fresh fruit) slip into the jar, knowing they will be enjoyed in months to come. Most of all, I love 'testing' the jam left in the saucepan after I've shared it amongst the jars - it's the first taste of the year; one of those simple things that totally blows you away every time. I love it.

Enjoy this jam with these scones.

What you'll need:
1kg strawberries, hulled and halved (quarter the big ones)
2 teaspoons Queens vanilla bean paste
750g caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
100mL water
40g jam setta (yes, setta)
Wax discs (optional, see note)
Clean jars, at least 5

What to do:
Put the strawberries, vanilla and lemon juice into a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat for two minutes, or until steaming. Pour in the caster sugar and water and stir to combine.

Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves and the strawberries are floating in the syrup. Grab a bowl of water and a pastry brush and use it to dissolve any sugar crystals on the side of the pan.

Once the syrup boils, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 25 minutes. Stir every now and then but keep a watchful eye to ensure it doesn't boil over or burn.

Add the jam 'setta' and increase heat to medium-high so the jam is boiling heavily. Stir for 5-10 minutes or until the jam is super syrupy and glossy. Remove from heat. Let it cool for about 10 minutes. Pour jam into each jar, filling it right up to the lip.

If you aren't using wax, let the jam cool, put the lid on and store each jar in the fridge.

If you are using wax, melt it in a small saucepan and spoon a tablespoon or two over the jam to cover it. Once the wax sets and the jam has cooled, put the lid on top and store jars in the pantry. Before consuming, get a knife between the wax and jar and pry the wax up and out. Refrigerate after opening. Enjoy!