Strawberries. Strawberries everywhere. And when you have this many strawberries, you need to preserve them. FAST. Of course you can eat them fresh, bake with them, freeze them…but perhaps the tastiest way to preserve strawberries is to make homemade strawberry jam. Here’s how I make strawberry jam the easy way.
It’s peak strawberry season in my part of the world so we took the kids off to a pick your own farm and loaded up. Our kids got a lesson in where food comes from, and I got to save money and the reassurance of knowing what’s in their food and where it’s coming from.
Now, strawberry jam is definitely not the healthiest item in my pantry, but I would prefer my kids learn about moderation rather than restriction. Jam isn’t an everyday food for us, but it is something we all enjoy. By making it myself I can be sure there are no nasties hiding inside.
Why Does Jam Contain So Much Sugar?
So why all the sugar in jam?
When we make jam and want it to be shelf stable, we use sugar as a natural preservative. It’s also in there to make the jam set properly. Cutting the sugar back too far can cause your jam to remain runny or allow mould to grow in your jars.
I use the Ball Pectin to help my jam set while using less sugar than the 50/50 fruit to jam ratio in traditional jam.
You can make sugar free or low sugar jams, but these won’t be shelf stable. Most need to be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks, or stored in the freezer for up to three months. A shelf stable jam made with sugar will last at least 12 months in your pantry.
That’s if the jam lasts that long without being eaten!
If you are interested in a jam recipe that doesn’t use sugar, let me know in the comments below. I have a super yummy one I can share with you another day.
But remember, your worth as a mother is not determined by which foods you decide to let your children eat. We all have different ideas on what constitutes a balanced and healthy diet. For some this means no refined sugar, for others it means modelling moderation of refined food consumption.
Each of us needs to decide for ourselves what we are happy to allow in to our homes, and what food lessons we are hoping to impart to our children. No matter what we decide, the key is to make a purposeful and mindful choice.
Now, on to the recipe!
How To Make Jam at Home
- Making jam at home is really easy. There are only a few things to remember.
- Make sure you wash your jars and lids really well before you start.
- Hot jam needs to be poured into a hot jar to prevent the glass cracking. I like to keep my jars in a hot oven until I need them, and then I use this handy jar lifter to safely remove the jars without burning myself.
- The jam is hot. The glass jars are hot. Be careful not to burn yourself, and if kids are helping, make sure they are aware of being safe around hot jam too.
- Strawberries are a low pectin fruit, which means if we want the jam to set we need to add pectin. There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest way is to buy a jar of pectin. Jamsetta and Ball are the most popular brands in Australia. I prefer the Ball pectin and it’s what I’ve used in this recipe. The more pectin, the firmer the jam. (Aussies can by Jamsetta in Woolworths or Coles, and Ball pectin in Big W)
- Your fruit needs to be ripe and in good condition. Strawberries that are a bit soft or squished are fine, but cut out any bruised parts and make sure not to let any mouldy strawberries in. A good jam needs good fruit. And you don’t want to be making yourself or your kids sick with off fruit.
- Make sure you keep stirring so your jam doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of your pan. It’s so sad to put in the effort and then ruin the jam. Trust me.
- Sometimes it’s easier to learn how to do something by watching someone else do it first. Which is why I filmed making a batch of jam. Check it out below.
A Super Simple Strawberry Jam Recipe
2 + 2/3 cups strawberries, diced
2 cups raw sugar
2-3 tablespoons pectin
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Prepare your bottles by washing in hot, soapy water then rinsing well. Dry and place into a low oven to keep warm.
- Dice your strawberries, wash and pat dry.
- Place the strawberries into a heavy bottomed saucepan and mash to the desired consistency. If you like a chunky jam, you may want to skip this step.
- Place the saucepan on the stove over medium heat.
- When the strawberries are warm, but before they boil, add in the pectin. Stir well between each tablespoon.
- When the fruit is boiling, add in the sugar in one go. Stir well then add in the vanilla essence.
- Bring the jam to a rolling boil. Once it is boiling, stir constantly for approximately one minute before checking for set.
- Once your jam is at set point, ladle carefully into hot jars. Wipe rims clean before sealing.
- Waterbath your jam for 5 minutes if desired.
If stored properly, this jam should keep for 12 months in the pantry. It can be frozen if preferred.
It will yield approximately 3-4 jam jars worth, depending on the fruit.
At that’s it.
A super, simple recipe for strawberry jam that you can make at home, so you can know exactly what it is you are feeding your family.
And the strawberry picking makes for a fun family day out too!