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    Strawberry and Sichuanese Pepper Conserve

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    Strawberry and Sichuanese Pepper Conserve

    Softer than the jams you are used to, this will be runny before it cools, as strawberries are low in pectin. It works best if you use unforced strawberries that have been grown during the British season, as they contain less water than imported ones. If lots of watery juice accumulates at the end of maceration, drain it off and reserve half of it to add to the jam; the remaining syrup can be used to flavour fromage frais. The pepper adds a little bite and warmth to the sweetness.

    • Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus 8 hours maceration
    • Cooking time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, plus 8 hours maceration 60 minutes 20 minutes

    Makes: 4 x 454g (1lb) jars


    • 2kg strawberries, stalks removed
    • 1.5kg granulated or jam sugar
    • 1 tbsp sichuanese peppercorns
    • 4 lemons, juice


    1. Cut any larger strawberries into halves or quarters lengthwise, leaving smaller ones whole. Put all the strawberries in a large bowl, add the sugar and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave in a cool, dry place for 8 hours, until the fruit is soft and the sugar dissolved.
    2. Preheat the oven to 140°C/gas 1. Sterilise and warm 4 jam jars in the oven. Use a pestle and mortar to crush the peppercorns; do not grind them. Add the lemon juice to the strawberries and transfer the fruit and juices to a large saucepan or preserving pan. Bring to a simmer over a low heat for 30–40 minutes, stirring occasionally. To check on the progress of the jam, lift the spoon up and see how quickly the jam runs off – when the setting point is reached, the last drop should hang off the spoon. When it’s ready, take off the heat and stir in the pepper.
    3. While it’s still hot, spoon the jam into dry, warm jam jars. Screw the lids on, then turn the jars upside down until cool. Store in a cool place for up to 6 months.

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