This super simple strawberry jam recipe is the perfect place for a beginning canner to start. Three simple ingredients (no pectin), 10 minutes cooking, and 10 minutes processing in a hot water bath equal capturing the most delicious taste of summer for months to come!
My first few tries of canning a fruit using pectin resulted in disaster. That’s why I was ecstatic to find a fruit jam recipe without pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring indigestible fiber found the walls of the cells of most fruits. When heated with sugar and a liquid, it gels, giving jams, jellies and preserves their thickness. However, in a lot of jam and jelly recipes, they include store-bought pectin. One day store-bought pectin and I will have a heart-to-heart and we’ll figure it out, but until then I’ll stick to recipes without it.
This recipe originated from Saving the Season – one of my favorite canning books – but the recipe has been passed around home canners and bloggers for generations.
When I go to try a new recipe, I first go to Mary Randolph’s “The Virginia Housewife” to see if it’s in there. The Virginia Housewife was written in 1860, and I prefer to use vintage, whole-food recipes over newer, more complicated recipes. However, for this strawberry jam, Ms. Randolph calls for an equal amount of sugar to strawberries! Two pounds of sugar to two pounds of strawberries! Um…no thank you.
“To each pound of ripe [strawberries], put one pound of loaf sugar–stir it frequently, and stew till it is a thick jelly.” – Mary Randolph
Strawberry Picking With the Baby
So while our strawberry plants aren’t nearly at the point where they can give us two pounds of strawberries, Grandma and I took the baby strawberry picking. There’s nothing better than fresh strawberries, warmed from the sun, picked straight off the plant. After picking we sat and happily munched away at our harvest. The second best to field-fresh is preserved.
Jams, Jellies, and Preserves – Oh My!
Have you ever wondered what the difference was between preserves, jams, and jellies? Preserves are where the chunks of fruit are almost intact and are canned with a syrup or jam. In a jam, the fruit is crushed so it’s less chunky. In a jelly, the chunks are removed completely and only the fruit juice is used.
Strawberry Jam Recipe
To make this recipe, simply cut the stems off of two pounds of strawberries and roughly chop them. Cover them with two and a half cups of sugar and the juice from one lemon. (I’ve heard of some people using honey instead to make it healthier, but I haven’t tried that one yet!) Mix to evenly coat. If you have the time, set the bowl aside in your fridge for an hour to let the sugar work its magic and start to pull the pectin out of the berries.
Heat over mid-high heat until it begins to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. You’ll really be able to smell the lemon here.
How to Can Strawberry Jam
Ladle into sterilized canning jars, wipe the rims and screw on the lids.
Stand back and admire your handiwork! Aren’t they gorgeous??
How can you use this strawberry jam? Pour it over ice cream, add it to toast or a bagel, pour over cream cheese for a sweet dip. Add it to puff pastry for a quick dessert! Mix a spoonful in with a glass of lemonade for a strawberry kick! Add it to prosecco…or as Mary Randolph said:
“…is very fine to mix with cream for blanc mange, puffs, sweet-meat puddings, etc. etc.” – Mary Randolph
freshly squeezed lemon juice