Recipe: Strawberry Jam

In my canning endeavors thus far, I’ve found myself drawn to more unusual flavorings and combinations, largely because I haven’t been canning any of my own freshly grown produce (yet.) I wanted whatever I canned to be worth the process, worth buying the ingredients at the store.  I wanted the canning to be a part of the process that made whatever I  was making into the final product, not just a way to preserve it.  When I procured 12 pounds of strawberries, however, it seemed fairly obvious what at least some of those berries needed to be used for: strawberry jam.  Obvious as it sounded, I still looked for ways to make it a little different, a little more than tossing sugar, berries, lemon and pectin in a pot.  I’m testing for products to sell at the Farmers’ Market and Strawberry Jam just seemed so… normal.

I ended up compromising and using half the berries to make a strawberry lemonade concentrate to satisfy my need to create something a little off the beaten path.  The other half were bound for jam, and I just had to find the right recipe.

Cue the Google searching.  I yielded about 400 bazillion recipes that were all basically the same.  They either contained pectin, or they required over an hour of cook time.  I have a strong desire to try things without having to add pectin, so I wanted to try a jam recipe that didn’t require it.  Here’s what I ended up with:

I love the color.  It’s a beautiful dark ruby, and the berry chunks are visible in a way that’s appealing without seeming like it’s a jar of canned strawberries.  I like how it tastes–like strawberry jam–but it still doesn’t have enough wow for me.  It’s a pantry staple without being different enough that I’d put down my own money for it at the market, which is a bit of an issue for me.  Would I make it again?  Absolutely.  Does it deserve a spot in my booth?  Probably not.  The market we’re selling at already has a few vendors that carry preserves of various types, and I know for certain that at least two of them carry strawberry jams.  Given the proliferation of recipes on the internet, I frankly don’t expect them to taste all that different.

Something to note: Several of the recipes I found called for a cooktime of only 30 minutes on this jam, which is laughable.  As it contains no pectin, 30 minutes of cook time yields a jam that is more like hot strawberries in juice than anything spreadable.  I cooked this for about 1.5 hours and ended up with a consistency I like well enough.  I do think I’ll end up using pectin in my final product, both to reduce processing time and to ensure a consistent product from batch to batch.

So, for me, it’s back to the drawing board.  I have two variations I really want to try, one involving honey and the other involving vanilla beans.  I want something familiar and homey, but still unexpected.  I’m not really looking at this point to add any other competing flavors like rhubarb or jalapeno, as I want the strawberries to be the star.

Recipe

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:

6.5 cups of strawberries

3 cups of sugar, divided

1/4 cup lemon juice (I used fresh because it’s what I had, but bottled juice isn’t the end of the world here.  This is about acid, not flavor.)

Salt

Directions:

I hulled my strawberries, tossed them in 1/2 c. of sugar, and popped them in the fridge over night.  This serves a dual purpose of breaking this up into manageable steps (it took me almost two hours to hull 12 pounds of strawberries,) and letting the strawberries soften.  They were far, far easier to macerate.

6.5 cups of strawberries went into a pot over medium heat, followed by a quick mashing with a potato masher.  I wanted some pretty good chunks in my jam, so this didn’t take long, but it’s a preference.  Longer mashing = finer texture.  After the strawberries were warmed through, I added in 2.5 cups of sugar, the lemon juice and a good sprinkling of salt.  Stir together and bring to a low boil.  Stir frequently, at ten minute intervals, and lower or raise the heat on your burner as needed.  Check the consistency of your jam at 45 minutes, and every 15 minutes after until you have a consistency you’re happy with.  For me, this was right at 1.5 hours.

Ladle into half-pint canning jars and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.  If you don’t want to can your jam, this is also the point where you can pop it in the freezer.  Canned, it’ll last about a year, and frozen, about 3 months.

Enjoy!  For maximum satisfaction, spread it on toast for a toddler. Keep washcloths handy.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] for some jam and jelly recipes, use our index for the few we have posted here, including this tasty strawberry jam that requires no pectin, or check out this new, yummy Grapefruit Marmalade […]

    Reply

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