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.
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.
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.