It is strawberry season in our part of the country and I couldn’t be happier. We have a fun little you-pick strawberry farm about 20 minutes from our house that the little one and I visit about once a week. Usually, we just get a couple of pounds (enough to last us until the next week) and we eat them as they are, but a few weeks ago, I decided to get pick two baskets full (9-lbs) and make some strawberry jam. This was my second time making jam and a chance for me to perfect my jamming skills. I scoured the internet looking for the perfect strawberry jam recipe, but kept finding ones that had way too much sugar for my liking. I don’t know about you, but I want to taste the actual fruit. I finally settled on a recipe from The Pioneer Woman (here), but I needed to tweak it a bit because it still contained too much sugar (in my opinion). For my jam, I used almost half of the sugar as most recipes call for which technically makes this “preserves”, but I like calling it jam!
Here are my beautiful, hand-picked strawberries. Aren’t they lovely?
While going through all of the millions of recipes online for strawberry jam, I came across a few tips. Apparently, if you are making it with less sugar, it is a good idea to have a couple of not-so-ripe berries in the mix. The not-so-ripe berries have more natural fruit pectin in them and will help your jam have a little thicker consistency. The photo on the top shows an example of a not-so-ripe berry.
I washed and hulled the strawberries (PW has some great tips in her post on hulling the berries). Then I placed them (in batches) in a large bowl and mashed them up. I used my potato masher, but you can also use a food processor if you want less “chunky” jam.
Measure 5 cups of the mashed up berries and put them into a large pot.
Add the lemon juice and a 1/2 a pat of butter to the berries and mix together. Bring them to a boil.
Add in a packet of “no sugar needed” fruit pectin into the pot and mix until dissolved. Bring it to a violent boil.
**Side Note: I wanted to make a small batch that was a little different so, after the pectin was dissolved, I took 3 cups of the jam out of the pot and put it into a small pot. I added 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the small batch and cooked and canned it the same way. It turned out DELICIOUS! I have it on my toast in the morning with a little coconut oil…yummy!
Once the jam comes to a violent boil, it is ready to can. You can either can it to go in the fridge or to keep longer without refrigeration (see PW’s post for more info on the actual canning process, she breaks it down really well).
I have had to make this jam twice now because my family is going through it like crazy!! I plan on trying a no-sugar recipe very soon that uses honey as a substitute and I will let you know how that turns out!