Mama Ruth Makes Strawberry and Vanilla ConserveThis is my version of jam, it’s slightly less set than Jam, but it’s perfect for scones and really quick and easy to make. Andover and surrounding villages are lucky to have a wonderful source of delicious fruit at the ‘pick your own’ in St Mary Bourne, and that’s what I have used in the pictures below, and it’s an ideal recipe for the height of summer when lovely ripe strawberries are in abundance.

The result is a pot of the most intense strawberry flavour with a vibrant red colour, the hint of vanilla seeds will enhance the strawberry flavour without overpowering it…… mmm I’m thinking friends and family with fresh scones, clotted cream and a lazy sunny afternoon in the garden.

It will keep for months, unopened, in a cool dark cupboard and, once opened, for up to 1 month in the fridge.

Ingredients for 3 – 4 Small Jars

450g Preserving Sugar Don’t be tempted to try other sugars, it really needs the added pectin to work so quickly and easily.

Juice of 1 Lemon Or a tablespoon of lemon juice if you have this in a bottle lurking in the cupboard or fridge.

1 Vanilla Pod Or half a teaspoon of trusty Vanilla Bean Paste – and it’s a good excuse to lick the spoon, it’s delicious.

550g Small Strawberries As ripe as possible, washed and hulled (stalk pulled out).


1. In a large pan, add the sugar, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of water. Slit the vanilla pod in half an add the pod and seeds to the pan, or the vanilla bean paste as above. Put on a low heat and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and a syrup is created. Don’t wander off as burnt sugar is really hard to clean off and smells disgusting.

2. Remove the pan from the heat, add the strawberries and stir into the syrup until they’re all coated. Leave to stand for 30-60 minutes to let the lovely juices release from the fruit.

3. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook at a steady boil, without stirring for 10 minutes. You need to reach ‘setting point’ and I’ll put some notes below on how to do this. Tip – Any longer and the conserve will firm up or at worst become an unpleasant glue like consistency.

4. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla pod, and leave to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Tip – If you don’t leave it to cool all the strawberries will float when bottled, instead of being evenly distributed throughout the jar.

5. Spoon into sterilised jars and seal immediately, leave to cool before labelling and storing, or eating – Beware. However tempting, hot sugar will burn your mouth!

Setting Point

If you like this recipe and want to try making other chutney’s, jams and sweets, you might like to invest in a sugar thermometer for about £10, which is clearly marked with the correct temperatures for the various stages of these delights, it’s so much easier. Without a thermometer it’s still simple, put a plate or saucer into your freezer, after boiling the jam for 10 minutes, take it out again and drop a teaspoonful onto the saucer. Leave for 1 minute then push it with the tip of your finger, if it wrinkles its ready, if not repeat every couple of minutes until it is!

If you would like to make Mama Ruth’s yummy scones to go with this gorgeous conserve, Click HERE for the recipe!

Mama Ruth works from the ‘Living Kitchen’ at cooking2cooling, West Portway, Andover.

Many of her recipes use kitchen appliances which are available to buy in the showroom there, and Mama Ruth is happy to answer any questions you may have regarding cooking or appliances, pop in and say hello, or email

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