How to make strawberry Jam. I love canning and preserving foods although I haven’t done it in a couple years though until recently. I have never made jam before and decided I wanted to try my hand at strawberry jam. It’s actually a really simple recipe with very few ingredients. I just wasn’t sure how well it would turn out since I had never made jams before.
There are only 2-3 ingredients. Strawberries, sugar, and pectin (which is optional). When it comes to canning, you should always use tested recipes which is why I don’t make up my own recipes. My recipes come from a couple canning recipe books that I have. This recipe comes from “Blue Book Guide to Preserving” from Ball Canning. If you are new to canning and need more details about some of the instructions, check out my Basics of Canning and Preserving post.
Strawberry Jam (with no added pectin) Yields about 4 pints
Ingredients: 2 quarts of strawberries, 6 cups of sugar
Directions: Wash strawberries and drain them. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time.Combine strawberries and sugar in a large saucepot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cook rapidly to gelling point. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process jars 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Strawberry Jam (with added pectin) Yields about 8 half pints
Ingredients: 2 quarts of strawberries, 6 tablespoons pectin, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 7 cups sugar
Directions: Wash strawberries and drain them. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time. Combine strawberries, pectin, and lemon juice in a saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Return to a roiling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process jars 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
NOTE: I made my jam without added pectin. Even though the recipe and directions are close to the same, there is a difference.
After washing, draining and removing stems from my strawberries, I sliced them before crushing them even though the directions doesn’t mention slicing them. You don’t actually have to slice them at all. I just found it was easier to crush sliced ones than whole ones. I used a rectangular container to crush my strawberries in because it’s not easy to crush them in a round bowl. Then I filled just the bottom of the container with strawberries and crushed them. Then added more and crushed again. I just kept adding more a little at a time until I had them all crushed. Using a potato masher works well for this.
Then I added my crushed strawberries and sugar into my saucepot and cooked the mixture exactly as directed in the recipe above in this post. The important part of cooking jam is reaching the gelling point. This is also where the difference between using added pectin and not using added pectin comes in. See, if you use pectin, you don’t have to worry about testing the gelling point. You can just cook the jam for a certain amount of time called for in the recipe. At least with this recipe anyway. And when using pectin, you don’t have to cook as long.
Without pectin, you have to boil the mixture until reaching the gelling point as I have mentioned. This took forever. I think I was cooking this mixture for about an hour and a half after it was boiling before it finally reached the gelling point. Since this was the first time making jam, I didn’t realize it probably would have been much easier and better if I used pectin. However, my jam turned out pretty good being my first time. Using pectin definitely saves time.
The gelling point can be tested in three different ways. The best way is a candy thermometer. The gelling point is 8 degrees hotter than the boiling point. So once it reaches 220 degrees F, your there. That temperature also depends on altitude too so it might be something you need to look up. Another way is the spoon test. Dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling jelly mixture. Raise the spoon out of the steam, about 12 inches above the pan. Turn the spoon so the liquid runs off the side. The jelly is done when the syrup forms two drops that flow together and form a sheet that hangs off the edge of the spoon. The third way is by using a chilled saucer. Place a small saucer in the freezer. Spoon a teaspoon of the hot jam onto a cold saucer and let it rest for 30 seconds. Push your fingertip into the jelly, and if it wrinkles, it’s ready.
When your jam is finished cooking, skim the top if necessary before filling jars. As you can see in one of my jars, I didn’t skim very well. I kind of hurried through the skimming because it was becoming a little difficult to do since the jam was thickening up after removing from the heat. I would imagine if I had used the pectin, I wouldn’t have had to cook as long and could have been able to skim more often and easier.
After you are finished filling your jars, place them in the water bath canner and process the jars for as long the directions call for. If you have any jam left that doesn’t completely fill a jar (I ended up with a half full jar), don’t bother processing it. Just cap it and let it cool then start using it immediately. Jam can be used for up to three weeks after opened and stored in the refrigerator. Properly canned jars can be stored in the pantry for up to a year.
So how did my jam turn out?
I will say it tasted really good. So good that I almost didn’t care that I didn’t skim it very well. The texture was good. It was easy enough to get out of the jar and spread but it could have been better. It was a little “gummy” and even though it was easy to get out of the jar, it should have been a little easier. That’s the other disadvantage of not using pectin. If you are going to try this recipe, I would recommend making it with the pectin. Lesson learned for me. From now on, any jams I make will have added pectin.
But it still tastes good!