It all started so innocently. There I was, in the grocery store, picking up sundries for the week’s dinners. Donald and I had just come from the homebrew supply store, where we picked up the ingredients we needed for a Christmas beer. I was thinking how nice it would be to give some of this beer away as Christmas gifts, maybe with some jam. Then, I turned around. Texas strawberries, $1.50 a pound!

I bought 12 pounds, which as soon as I loaded them in the car made me think I had taken leave of my senses. What the heck am I going to do with 12 pounds of strawberries? Panic set in as I simultaneously assured Donald that I would not let 12 pounds of strawberries go bad and remembered that I had only ever made jam twice before, and those results were pretty mixed.

A quick trip to my favorite canning blog, Food in Jars, assured me that all was not lost. I could indeed make something delicious with my zillion strawberries. While Donald made us some delicious nachos for lunch, I sliced ten cups of strawberries (and realized that a pound of strawberries yields about 2 cups of chopped strawberries, so I really didn’t NEED 12 pounds, strictly speaking), combined them with a vanilla bean and some sugar, and stuck them in the fridge.

Then I proceeded to sneak little sugar-covered slices every hour for the next several hours.

The next day, Donald and I made a batch of holiday beer for Christmas gift-giving, we made shortbread for his birthday, we fried fish for fish tacos, and I processed those strawberries into beautiful jam.

Marisa over at Food in Jars does a great job of explaining the process, so head on over there for her recipe for vanilla-scented strawberry jam. Marisa’s recipe got me about a dozen 4-ounce jars, and two half-pint jars. I had a few tablespoons left over, so I poured them into a jar, let it come to room temp, and ate it on toast immediately. The jam had set up nicely, the vanilla was super subtle, and the strawberry flavor was transcendent.