Pioneering Today-How to Make Low Sugar No Pectin Strawberry Jam

Like any pioneer woman, the beginning of summer marks jam and jelly season at our house. Fingers are sure to be stained with the berry of the moment and snack breaks are taken at the bush with the most ripe fruit.

The first fruit preserving of the summer for us is strawberries. My husband loves strawberry jam, it is his absolute favorite. There is nothing that tastes better than homemade jam, the stuff in the store doesn’t compare. Not only is it tasty, but it’s frugal, two of my favorite things.Low Sugar No Pectin Strawberry Jam Pioneering Today

If you grow your own fruit see How to Plant Strawberries, have jars (canning jars will last for decades as long as they’re not chipped), then your only cost is lids, sugar, and  pectin. Now you can eliminate the store bought  commercial pectin, cutting your cost.

I received my great-great-grandmother’s cookbook from my mother a few weeks ago and I’ve loved scouring the pages. I combined a recipe from that and another great book, In a Pickle or a Jam by Vicki Wilder, which is unfortunately out of print, but if you ever find it at a garage sale or thrift store, grab it!

Lemon and apples are both very high in natural pectin. My grandmother never used pectin and now you don’t have to either. Suprisingly, you just get a hint of the lemon, so if you want it to be stronger, add the juice of one more lemon.

Pioneering Today Low Sugar No Pectin Strawberry Jam Low Sugar No Pectin Strawberry Jam Pioneering TOday

8 cups firm strawberries (organic)

2 and 1/2 cups sugar (I use Wholesome Organic Fair Trade No GMO from Costco)

3 lemons, the juice and zest (organic if possible)

Heat your water in your hot water bath canner (If you’re just starting to can, get from our affiliate partner Amazon a big canner, then you can do little and big runs without having two canners). Sterilize jars in the dishwasher or in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Have lids in warm water, not boiling, in a small sauce pan.

Rinse and hull your strawberries. Get a large stock pot and a citrus zester or the smallest holes on your grater. Zest the peel of the lemons into your pot. Cut lemons in half and squeeze juice into pot. Cup your hand underneath as you squeeze, or you’ll have to fish out any seeds that drop in. Stir in your sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar combines into a syrup.

Take pot off of heat and dump in strawberries. If you like your jam to have large bites of strawberries, then leave them whole. My husband doesn’t like chunky jam, so I take a potato masher and mash them up. Stir to fully coat with syrup and leave for 15 minutes.

Put pot back on medium high heat. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil. Once jam begins to boil, stir constantly. Note, without pectin, my berries did not foam. Woo,hoo! Stir for 6 minutes, or until jam sets. Jam has set when it sticks to the back of the spoon.

Ladle into jars, wipe rim with a damp cloth, place lid and screw band snugly (not too tight). I put one jar into the fridge to eat right away, but for preserving, place into hot water bath, be sure to use the rack, and process for 10 minutes. Take out and place on a folded over towel for 12 hours, then store in a dark cool place.

Makes six 8 ounce jelly size jars. I had a 4 ounces extra and put it in the fridge for immediate use.

Note: Always inspect your jars of jam and jelly before using. If the seal is broken, jar is leaking, off odor, off appearance, or any signs of mold, do not eat or taste it. Throw it out. Check the seal when you go to use jar, even if it sealed when you put it in the pantry. Seals can sometimes come undone over time.

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I just purchased this from our affiliate partner Amazon Ball Utensil Set
and love it! No more burnt fingers when my oven mitt gets wet.

Enjoy! New to canning? You’ll enjoy my Canning 101 Water Bath vs. Pressure Canning. I also have a low sugar recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, but it does contain pectin as I hadn’t discovered this new trick at the time of the post. I think you could sub out the pectin for lemon juice, but I haven’t tried it yet.

This post is featured on Tasty Traditions and The Better Mom.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
HeirloomBook3DHearing the terms heirloom and GMO (genetically modified) lately? My FREE e-book, Heirloom Gardening Guide-Plant to Save Money, explains what these terms mean, how to protect your family, the benefits of heirloom plants, and how to get started. Click here to get your free copy.

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49 thoughts on “Pioneering Today-How to Make Low Sugar No Pectin Strawberry Jam

  1. Although I did help my mom when I was growing up to can strawberries, green beans, etc, I have not canned on my own so some of this lingo has been heard but I don’t know 100% what it means. LOL I may be helping my mom more this summer to get more of a feel so I know what’s going on when I try on my own. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I do hope to try it and like your husband, I don’t like big chunks of fruit. ;)

    • Leslie, which terms didn’t you know? I want this to be a recipe anyone can try so if you let me know what parts weren’t clear or could use more explanation, I can update it. :)

  2. Oh perfect! My husband has been wanting me to start making homemade jam…haven’t tried it yet, but sounds fairly simple. Would this recipe be about the same for raspberries? That is his favorite!!

    • Kelly, I haven’t done raspberries yet this way. Mine won’t be ripe for at least another 3 weeks, but raspberries actually contain more natural pectin than strawberries, so you could bump the lemons down to 2. I believe the sugar ratio would be the same, but if it doesn’t taste sweet enough, or seem to be setting, you can always add a little bit more to taste. I’ll do a batch as soon as mine are ready and let you know the exact measurements. :)

    • Sarah, you can use honey, but it’s recommended to only sub half of the sugar for honey, or the jam might not set as well. I’ve never used honey in my jam, so I’m taking others word on this. Let me know how it turns out if you try the honey route.

  3. This is fabulous! I just wonder…my son has fructose malabsorption and we have to seriously limit fructose in our house. Maple syrup works for him – would it work in this recipe? Thanks!

  4. How long will this jam last? We don’t eat our jam very quickly and I want to make jam that will last at least a year, if not more. :) Thanks

    • Michele, most jams have a shelf life of a year. The key is storing it where it’s cool and dark. The light and heat will break it down faster. But we’ve eaten our jam at a year and a half. I practice rotation in my pantry, meaning I put the most recent canned goods at the back of the shelf and use the oldest jars first. Check the seals before eating, even if they were sealed when stored. If there’s any mold or funny odor when you open a jar, don’t eat it. I’ve never had this problem w/ my jams, but some of my pickles came unsealed part way through the year.

  5. For me it was a colossal disappointment and a culinary disaster. I was excited to find a recipe that did not call for pectin AND was a low sugar recipe. I am kicking myself for not doing a test batch. I made a giant pot, following all the proportions from the recipe. Organic strawberries, organic lemons, organic cane sugar. After an hour and 20 minutes of boiling (!), I had a lemon soup. By all accounts it tastes like lemon, I can’t even taste strawberries anymore, the lovely red color is gone, it looks like commercial slop now. It still isn’t coming together so I’m calling it quits and going to buy commercial pectin as it would still be cheaper than trying to make my own from organic apples. I’m heartbroken.

    • Olga, oh, no! One thing with jam making is you have to do it in small batches. Large batches don’t set. :( Even with commercial pectin, you can’t make huge batches at once. If you try it with the measurements in the recipe, it should turn out fine. And over cooking will also cause it not to set. I’m so sorry, but don’t give up on your jam making. Just keep it in small batches from here on out.

      • Hi Melissa,
        Thanks for the follow up, I’ll get over my failure and will try again, this time with your suggestion. I ended up salvaging the preserve with a LOT more sugar, but at least it’s still organic.

      • The jam came out amazing. I just replaced the sugar with the Stevia cup for cup. I followed your recipe down to the letter. They are now cooling on the table. The children are raving and want to eat it straight from the jars ;) Thank you. This will now be my jam recipe.

        • So happy to hear! I’ll let others know that Stevia straight across for sugar works. Glad to hear you didn’t have any problems. My kids adore this one, too. I confess, I scraped the sides of the pot and licked the spoon. lol

  6. So happy to see a recipe with low sugar that doesn’t require freezing! :D i’ve been living on the edge with my jam making, and usualy use a ratio of 2:1 berries to sugar regardless of what the recipe calls for, but your is even better at about 4:1.25. Cant wait to see more low sugar jam recipes!

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  8. Hi Melissa,
    Your recipe for low sug strawb jam came up first in my search, but unless I read it wrong ( or wrang as we say here in NE England) I couldn’t work out how much water you use to make the initial syrup. A recipe I followed last year explicitly said “use as little as you can to dissolve and make the syrup – then add the strawbs”.
    Last year’s didn’t gell; I ended up with dark red miserable jam after I’d gone off and bought some &%#¥ing pectin! From what you added above, cearly I’d tried making too big a batch.
    I agree, low sug rasp is a doddle by comparison.
    Wifey, daughter and grandchildren all demand whole fruit in old grandad’s jam!

    • Hello! I prefer chunkier jam, aka whole fruit, too. You don’t use any water, just mix the sugar with the lemon juice until combined and then stir it in with the strawberries. They’ll juice and create enough liquid without adding any water. Hope this one turns out better for you. :)

  9. After looking all over for a low sugar jam recipe I found this and was so excited! I wanted to make a mixed berry jam though so I altered the recipe. I used strawberries (3 cups), raspberries (2.5 cups), blackberries (1 cup) and blueberries (1.5 cups). I only used 2 lemons since I saw a comment about there being more natural pectin in raspberries. I also added 2 tsp of agar powder when the fruit boiled. The jam tastes amazing! In fact next time I make it I will use less sugar since it is naturally so sweet from the berries.
    Thanks for a great base jam recipe! Next up is a strawberry rhubarb variation :)

  10. My wife and I are making home made crab apple jelly ,We have 40 cups of crab apple juice . How much lemon juice and surgar would it take to mix with the crab apple juice to make crab apple jelly .

    • Alfred, whenever making jelly, be sure to do it in small batches, or you won’t get a set. For 4 cups crab apple juice, use 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 4 cups sugar. Boil hard until it sets via the sheet test. Hope this helps and happy jelly making!

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  13. Just wondering if I can make a very small batch of the strawberry jelly? I don’t want to go through the canning process if I don’t have to – I would like to use it right away. Also, do I need to put it in glass jars instead of a plastic container? (I am only using 4 cups of strawberries)

    • Pam, yes, feel free to divide it down for the ingredients you have. It should set fine in smaller batches, just not larger ones. You can use plastic if you don’t have glass. You can either freeze it or store it all in the fridge.

  14. This was the first homemade jam I have ever made and it was amazing! I love that it has no commercial pectin and is low sugar. I actually used frozen organic strawberries ( thawed of course) from Costco and they worked perfectly! One whole bag seemed to be the perfect ratio to the rest of the ingredients.

  15. Hi there,

    just a measuring question: d you measure 8 cups of whole strawberries, cut up or crushed. This will make quite a difference… I have about 7 cups of crushed strawberries and I’m lost about conversions for the sugar… I was thinking about using 2.5 cups, but don’t know if that’s too much or too little…

  16. Would I be able to use just organic lemon juice from a bottle instead of fresh lemons and zest? If so how much would I use?

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