In California during the summer months, the street corners are filled with local farmers selling flats of beautiful, fragrant strawberries. These are about 200% more expensive than buying them at the grocery store, but worth every penny.
One year I had the idea to make homemade strawberry jam, which has now become an annual tradition. It is amazing and it doesn’t take all that long to make.
Note: I always double the recipe, this fills (12) 8oz jars, and then some.
What you’ll need:
4 lbs of fresh, preferably farm fresh, strawberries (8 cups mashed berries)
8 cups of White Sugar (you’ll probably want to buy a new 5lb bag, as what you have on hand is likely not enough)
1/2 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon juice (Don’t use the pre-made stuff, you’re going to the trouble of making jam from scratch – so use fresh squeezed lemon juice!)
Large Stock Pot
Muddler or masher
Most of the recipes I searched for included pectin. I wasn’t super sure what that even was, and because I didn’t know what it was I decided I didn’t want to eat it. So instead I searched for a pectin-free recipe. Pectin is actually a preservative, so the only downside to not eating it is that the jam technically needs to be consumed within three days of opening the jar – but I push that quite a bit and have been just fine.
You’ll want to prep your jars and before you start making the jam. Carefully wash all the pieces in warm soapy water and thoroughly dry the insides.
To make the jam, wash the strawberries and remove the stems/cores.
I usually mash them first in small batches in a bowl with a muddler before adding them to the pot – so I can get a good squish on the berries.
Once all of the berries are in the pot, add the white sugar and lemon juice. Heat to boiling and stir occasionally following the instructions. You need to heat it until it reaches 220 degrees fahrenheit, measuring the temperature with a candy thermometer.
Be warned, as the mixture heats up it will start to foam and possibly overflow. You have to watch it very closely. I usually end up dropping the temp a few times to keep the mixture in the pot until it reaches the proper temperature.
Warm the jars in hot water in the sink before pouring the hot jam into them as the glass may break/shatter. Once all the jars are filled, add the seals/lids. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place each jar in the boiling water for about 6 minutes – I can usually fit three jars at a time. Use the tongs to carefully remove the jars and dry them with the towel. Set aside to cool.
Once all the jars have been boiled and cooled you can label them if you’d like and store them in a cupboard or give to friends/family.
I usually store any leftover jam in a plastic container and place in the freezer. Then, several months later, I can thaw it out and have some jam in the off-season.
There are several great uses for the jam besides my favorite Brie and fresh baked french bread. I’ve had friends pour it over ice cream. I’ve used it as a filling in a cake. The possibilities are endless.
The jam is so fresh and so good, that three-day rule is never a problem – I usually eat a whole jar in one sitting.
I actually made an early batch this year in April (Spring Berries) and all the extra jars were snapped up in about 5 minutes.
I plan on making another batch with summer berries.