You’ll only need 5 ingredients to make this recipe for strawberry jam. Really! All you need to make scrumptious homemade jam are strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, pectin, and a pinch of salt. Best of all, this recipe only takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
Making your own preserves, jams, and jellies may seem overwhelming, but the truth is it is super simple and a great way to use up aging or extra produce.
I quite often notice my husband Scott disappearing into the kitchen for a bit. I’ll peek in to see what he is up to. Inevitably, he is making one pint of jam with the loquats that he just picked from the tree.
Making jams and jellies is the easiest way, in my opinion, to save fresh fruit!
Strawberry Jam Frequently Asked Questions
During the strawberry season, I often get questions like, “Do I have to use pectin when making strawberry jam?” In this post I’ll try to answer all the questions you may have about making strawberry jam, or really any kind of jam.
If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
What is pectin?
Pectin is a key ingredient for making jams, jellies, and some preserves. But what is it, exactly? This substance mostly consists of galacturonic acid, a sugar derived from galactose.
Pectin occurs naturally in almost all fruits, but it is most prevalent in sour, bitter fruits such as crab apples and plums. All parts of the fruit contain pectin, including the seeds, skins, and meat. However, you can make your own pectin by just using the skin.
Can you make your own pectin?
To make your own pectin, you would simply cut a highly acidic fruit like apples into quarters and place them in a pot of water. Next, let that simmer for 2 hours. Then drain off excess liquid, and you’ll have your very own pectin just like you’d buy from the store.
Why use pectin?
Pectin helps preserve homemade jellies and jams and aids in creating their gelatinous texture. Although you can use cornstarch instead if you are ever in a pinch, pectin will ensure the best choice for long-term storage. If you use cornstarch as your thickener, you won’t be able to can the jam or jelly with the water bath method. However, you still can freeze your jam or keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.
What can I use instead of pectin in strawberry jam?
One solution would be to cook the fruit longer until it reaches the thickness you’re looking form. Another is simply to use 2 tbsp of cornstarch for every 4 cups of fruit. However, the jam will never be as thick and gelatinized as when you use traditional pectin. Also keep in mind that the storage life of your jam will be much shorter than if you added pectin.
What are the differences between jam, jelly, marmalade, and preserves?
Jams, jellies, marmalade, and preserves are all types of preserved fruit spreads. However, there are some important differences among them.
Jelly is the hardest to make because it has to be clear and smooth. Jellies typically don’t have any solid fruit in them. On the other hand, preserves are the simplest to make. Preserves are simply whole fruits canned in firm gelled syrup.
Making jam is very similar to making preserves, but with jam you crush the fruit or cut it small instead of leaving it whole. In this recipe for strawberry jam, for example, you hull and halve the strawberries before you cook them.
Finally, there’s marmalade. This fruit spread is essentially a jam, but it is made with citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and ginger.
What is the best ratio of ingredients for jam?
For most preserves, and definitely for this strawberry jam recipe, the golden rule is to use 1:1 ratios of fruit and sugar. With this in mind, you can always make the perfect jam and it will always set correctly.
Why add lemon when making jam?
The secret to jams and jellies is the balance between the recipe’s pH and the “negative” charges in the pectin. Adding an acid like lemon lowers the pH of the mixture, which will allow the whole thing to work together and create the perfect jam.
Also in order to safely can the jam, you must have a high level of acid in it to deter any bacteria growth.
Can I make this strawberry jam recipe using other fruits?
Yes. Any fruit can be preserved in this way. It can also have the same fruit to sugar ratios, but you may need to adjust the amount of pectin depending on the fruit and the percentage of pectin already in it.
Can you use frozen strawberries to make strawberry jam?
Yes. You absolutely can use frozen strawberries. The boiling time may need to be adjusted until the mixture thickens a bit more. Or you can just thaw the strawberries before using them.
How do I know my jam will set?
When making this recipe, there are two ways to know if your jam is cooked enough set or not. If I am making big batches, I sometimes like to do both.
First, the temperature of the fruit and sugar mixture should reach 220 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just under the soft ball stage.
Second, to double check, or if you don’t have a temperature gauge, place a plate in the freezer before you begin cooking. When you think the mixture is ready, take the plate out and dollop about a tablespoon onto the plate. Place the plate back into the freezer for 2 minutes; this will speed up the setting time and give you a sneak peek at what it’ll end up like. Move your finger straight through the middle of the jam on the plate, and if it leaves a clean line, the jam is ready. But if the jam runs back where you just wiped, let the mixture continue to boil for 3 to 4 minutes longer.
What to do if the jam is too thick? If you get your jam too thick, add a little bit of water or fruit juice and put in the jam in the microwave for a minute. This will salvage the jam and allow you to use it as you normally would.
How to Make This Strawberry Jam
In a large stockpot add the strawberries and sugar and cook over medium-low heat until the berries dissolve. Stir in the lemon. Once the mixture thickens and reaches 220°F, stir the pectin into the strawberries. Allow the pectin to boil for one minute without stirring. Then remove your stockpot from the heat. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
Divide the strawberry jam between sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom in each. Place lids on jars and allow the jam to come to room temperature.
You can store jam in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for 6 months to a year. Or proceed to the water bath canning method to preserve it for 18 months. For more about canning and food preservation safety, click here.
That’s all there is to it!! Scroll down for the full recipe with ingredient list.
Tips for Making Jam
Here are a few time-tested tips for making perfect strawberry jam from this recipe.
Tip #1: Use Bottled Lemon Juice
Use bottled lemon juice because fresh lemons have a varying level of pH, while the bottled lemon juice is always the same.
Tip #2: Reduce the Fruit Quickly
Reduce the strawberries as quickly as possible to preserve their fresh fruity flavor.
Tip #3: Preheat Your Jam Jars
Make sure your jars are hot before pouring the jam into them because it’ll crack the jars if you pour the hot mixture into the cold glass.
Tip #4: Refrigerate, Freeze, or Can Your Strawberry Jam
You can keep the jam in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month or in the freezer for 6 months to a year. To be able to store the jam on a shelf, you will have to use the water bath canning method. By canning, you can increase the shelf life of the jam to several years.
If you aren’t familiar with canning, read more about it at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Is strawberry jam healthy?
Strawberries are packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, all of which can protect your heart and lower your blood pressure. In jam or jellies, the health benefits decrease somewhat from those of fresh fruit. However, those benefits are not lost entirely!
Eaten in moderation, this jam can be very “fruitful”: many of the strawberries’ nutrients are preserved. With the jam having such a high sugar content, when eaten in proper portion sizes, this treat will give you a burst of energy and help sustain you until your next meal.
What to Serve with Strawberry Jam
This recipe for strawberry jam will make just about anything more delicious. Spread it on homemade sourdough bread or use it as a glaze for a roast.
Recipe for Strawberry Jam
- 4 cups strawberries hulled and halved
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 lemon juiced or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 pouch liquid pectin
- Pinch of salt
- Add the strawberries and sugar to a large stockpot and cook over medium-low heat until the berries dissolve. Stir in the lemon.
- Once the mixture thickens and reaches 220°F, stir the pectin into the strawberries. Allow the pectin to boil for one minute without stirring and remove from the heat. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
- Divide the strawberry jam evenly among sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Place lids on and allow the jam to come to room temperature.
- You can store jam in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for 6 months to a year. Or proceed to the water bath canning method to preserve it for 18 months. See canning links in notes.
Here are a few other jams, jellies, and preserves recipes you may love!