How to Make Low Sugar No Pectin Strawberry Jam Recipe

Strawberry Jam Recipe without Pectin and Low Sugar

By Melissa Norris | Canning Recipes

Apr 20

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This low sugar no pectin strawberry jam recipe is our favorite. Step by step tutorial for a homemade strawberry jam without pectin and tons of flavor. Every home needs an easy strawberry jam recipe without pectin (specifically store-bought pectin) and low sugar. Because I’m a firm believe your jam shouldn’t have more sugar than it does fruit.

Like any pioneer woman, the beginning of summer marks jam and jelly season on our homestead. Whether its fresh-picked cherries for homemade cherry jam, juicy and plump blackberries for blackberry jam or even juicy peaches for this amazing spicy peach jam. Fingers are sure to be stained with the berry of the moment and snack breaks are taken at the bush with the ripest fruit.

Homemade strawberry preserves are the first berry recipes to hit my canning jars come spring. My husband loves strawberry jam, it is his absolute favorite. I’ve yet to meet a jam I didn’t like, but he’s partial to this one.

If you’re nervous about canning, don’t be! Read here about safely canning jams and jellies, and this is a fantastic canning 101 post that every new home canner should read.

One of the reasons we preserve our own food is so we have a fully stocked pantry that isn’t dependent upon the grocery store, is healthier without chemicals and GMO ingredients, and to save money. Using a strawberry jam recipe without store-bought pectin and low sugar keeps us within these guidelines and is how the pioneers and our great-grandmother’s made jam. Because I want my homemade strawberry jam to taste like strawberries, not a bucketful of sugar.

Resources for Easy Homemade Strawberry Jam 

If you already have jars (canning jars will last for decades as long as they’re not chipped), then your only cost is for lids, sugar, and lemons (we’re assuming you’re growing your strawberries, but if not, then there will be the cost for those as well). The good news for this recipe is there’s no need for store-bought commercial pectin which cuts your cost even more with this low sugar no pectin strawberry jam recipe.

Have you ever wondered if home canning is really worth it? And does it save money to can food at home?

To can strawberry jam you’ll need:

  • Canning Jars
  • Canning Lids & Bands
  • Large Canning Pot
  • Funnel & Canning Tools
  • Towel
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar
  • Lemons

How To Freeze Strawberry Jam

You absolutely can freeze this strawberry jam instead of canning it. However, we prefer to can it over making a freezer jam because we like to be prepared for power outages, and no one wants to eat gobs and gobs of jam if the power goes out (OK, maybe we do…but it’s not ideal!).

This recipe can be canned, as described, stored directly in the refrigerator (best within 4-6 weeks) or stored in the freezer (best within 2-3 months). Just be sure to cool jam completely before placing in the freezer to prevent jars from cracking.

Healthier Strawberry Jam Recipe

What makes this strawberry jam recipe healthy? Well, I don’t know about you, but a homemade jam that contains more sugar or as much sugar as it does fruit just doesn’t sit right with me. Not only is this low sugar strawberry jam recipe healthier, but it’s also much more frugal without pectin from the store and loads of sugar.

Plus, I’m all about recipes that don’t rely on store-bought items. Does anyone else feel they were born a century too late and should have been besties with Laura Ingall’s Wilder in Little House on the Prairie? You, too?! Good, grab your apron, your Mason jars, and let’s get to jamming.

Sources of Natural Pectin

Lemon and apples are both very high in natural pectin. My grandmother never used pectin and you don’t have to either. We’re using lemon juice in our recipe to naturally set our jam. It may not seem like it’s going to work but trust me, you just have to cook it a bit longer than the store-bought pectin recipes… but it will get there, I promise!

Surprisingly, you just get a hint of the lemon, so if you want it to be stronger, add the juice of one more lemon. Think strawberry lemonade in a jam. Oh, yes, don’t mind if I do.

Resources for Easy Homemade Strawberry Jam 

  • Our FREE Jam & Jelly Troubleshooting Guide how to test if your jam has reached the setting or gelled point before putting in jars and processing, what 3 easy steps to take if it’s not reaching the gel point, and how to salvage it if it didn’t gel. Bonus, the fruit acidity and pectin level chart! When you sign up for our FREE Guide you’ll get the option for a super special price to join our Home Fruit Preservation e-Course!
  • Classic Zester – this little beauty makes getting that pectin-packed luscious lemon zest into your strawberry jam without the bitter pith so easy.
  • Stainless Steel Canner – (Safe for glass top stoves) this water bath canner won’t rust like the granite wear runs and will be your trusty sidekick in the kitchen for years to come.
  • 6 Piece Canning Set – The jar lifter is worth five times the price of this. The best part, this 6 piece set is 79% off at the time of posting. I use mine with every canning project and can’t believe I ever canned without it. No more burnt fingers!
  • 8-ounce jelly jars – These are the perfect size for jam and jelly making. I use these for pickled garlic as well. Can you ever have too many canning jars? In case you were wondering, the answer is no my friend.Two canning jars filled with homemade strawberry jam with strawberries on the table around it.

Strawberry Jam Ingredients

  • Strawberries (rinsed and hulled, before mashing)
  • Sugar
  • Lemon Juice (and zest)

Can I Make Jam Using Frozen Strawberries?

Although it’s not ideal to use frozen strawberries for this recipe, they will certainly work. Just understand your cooking time will be much longer due to the extra water content of the frozen berries. No need to defrost berries first, just toss them into the pot and let them defrost as you crush them up.

How To Fix A Jam That Didn’t Set Up

If your jam is not fully set after canning, you can fix it! Don’t despair! All your hard work has not gone to waste. Before you open each jar, be sure your jam is completely cool. Jam continues to set up as it cools, so it may just be that your jam is still too hot.

If your jam is still runny once cooled to room temperature, simply open up all your jars and dump the jam back into your pot. Continue cooking until your jam passes the sheeting test.

The sheeting test means your jam will be thick enough to stick to the back of a frozen spoon without dripping off (or it may come off in one sheet!). But if you get little drops or even larger drops of jam, you’ll want to continue cooking it to allow it to thicken further.

How To Make Homemade Strawberry Jam

Instructions for canning homemade strawberry jam:

  1. Wash jars and bands in hot soapy water and keep warm. Fill water bath canner with water and put on medium heat.
  2. Add fresh strawberries to the pot. Crush strawberries with a potato masher or immersion blender to desired consistency (could also puree in the blender first). I prefer mine chunky, but my husband likes it more pureed. Pot filled with cooked down strawberry jam and lemon zest inside.
  3. Place strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest into a large pot. Stir until well combined and sugar is dissolved. Bring berries to a boil (if you have a candy thermometer jam sets at 220 degrees Fahrenheit, taking out the guesswork).  Stir frequently to keep sugar from scorching.
  4. Simmer on a low boil for 20 minutes stirring constantly. You can test the set of the jam by the sheeting test. Place a metal spoon in the freezer when you begin making your jam. Cooking time will vary depending on the water content of the berries.
  5. After the 20 minutes of boiling, use the chilled metal spoon to ladle out a spoonful of jam. Hold the spoon and watch the way the jam drips off of the spoon. If its little individual drops, the jam is not set, if it’s big goops, it’s almost there. If it comes off the spoon in a sheet or doesn’t really drop off at all, then the jam is set, yank that baby off the heat. Woman holding up a spoon covered in jelly that's thick and not dripping off.
  6. Place jars on a dishtowel. Fill jars leaving a ¼ inch headspace (1/4 gap from the top of the jam to the top of the jar). A canning funnel will be your best friend during this part.
  7. With a clean damp towel, wipe down the rim of the jar. Place lids on, then bands, and screw down to finger tight.
  8. Immerse jars in boiling water bath canner inside the canning rack, making sure water covers the tops of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Once water is boiling, set timer for 10 minutes and allow jars to process.
  9. When time is up, turn off the heat. After 5 minutes remove jars from canner. Place on a towel folded in thirds in a draft-free area. Allow to cool and set overnight or for at least 12 hours. Check seals. If the center of the lid gives, then store in the refrigerator and eat soon.
  10. If jars are sealed, wipe down with a damp cloth and store in the pantry out of the light for up to a year.

Makes approximately 4 pints.

Note: Always inspect your jars of jam and jelly before using it. If the seal is broken, if the jar is leaking, if you detect an 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 a jar, even if it sealed when you put it in the pantry. Seals can sometimes come undone over time.Image of homemade strawberry jam in a jar with text overlay for a free troubleshooting guide to jam making.

two jars of strawberry jam sitting on a tabletop with fresh strawberries around it.

Strawberry Jam Recipe without Pectin and Low Sugar

Course: fruit
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 pints
Author: Melissa Norris
A delicious low sugar strawberry jam recipe that let's the fruit flavor shine instead of sickly sweet sugar. Best part, this strawberry jam recipe without pectin means no purchasing extra ingredients!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 cups strawberries rinsed and hulled, before mashing
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

Instructions

  • Wash jars and bands in hot soapy water and keep warm. Fill water bath canner with water and put on medium heat.
  • Mash berries with a potato masher, blender, or immersion blender to desired consistency. I prefer mine chunky, but my husband likes it more pureed. (Note, liquid or pureed berries take longer to reach the gelling point)
  • Place berries, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest into large pot. Stir until well combined. Bring berries to a boil.  Stir frequently to keep sugar from scorching.
  • Simmer on a low boil for 20 minutes.You can test the set of the jam by the sheeting test. Place a metal spoon in the freezer when you begin making your jam.
  • After the 20 minutes of boiling, use the chilled metal spoon to ladle out a spoonful of jam. Hold the spoon and watch the way the jam drips off of the spoon. If its little individual drops, jam is not set, if it’s big goops, it’s almost there. If it comes off the spoon in a sheet or doesn’t really drop off at all, then jam is set, yank that baby off the heat.
  • Place jars on a dish towel. Fill jars with a ¼ inch from the top with jam. A canning funnel will be your best friend during this part. With a clean damp towel, wipe down rim of jar. Place lids on, then bands, and screw down to finger tight.
  • Immerse jars in water bath canner inside the canning rack, making sure water covers the tops of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Once water is boiling, set timer for 10 minutes and allow jars to process.
  • When time is up, turn off heat. Wait 5 minutes and then remove jars from canner. Place on a towel folded in thirds in a draft free area. Allow to cool and set overnight or for at least 12 hours.
  • Check seals. If the center of the lid gives, then store in the fridge and eat soon.
  • If jars are sealed, wipe down with a damp cloth and store in the pantry out of the light for up to a year

Notes

  • Because we're not using store bought pectin the cook time to reach a gel point can vary based on the ripeness and water content of your berries at harvest.
  • Liquid or pureed berries take longer to reach the gelling point
  • One reader wrote in saying the lemon flavor in a batch she did that didn't set was strong, but after re-cooking the jam until it reached its gelling point, the lemon flavor is barely detectable.
  • Please download the free Never Buy Jam or Jelly E-book with our troubleshooting guide if your jam is not gelling for help.
  • Always inspect your jars of jam and jelly before using. If the seal is broken, the 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 a jar, even if it sealed when you put it in the pantry. Seals can sometimes come undone over time.

There you have it, all the tips and instructions to make delicious homemade low sugar strawberry jam without store-bought pectin!

Other Jam Recipes & Canning Posts You May Find Helpful:

five jars of homemade jam without pectin stacked on a railing.

Did you grab your FREE jam & jelly troubleshooting guide with the bonus charts? Grab it now and never worry about failed jam or jelly again!

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About the Author

Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.

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