How To Make Homemade Strawberry Jam

Making homemade strawberry jam is quite simple and you only need a few ingredients. You can use both fresh or frozen berries. This homemade version has a smooth texture that isn’t too stiff, with just the right amount of sweetness, not cloying at all. Strawberry Jam-15

Homemade jam in January? Yes! I’m here to tell you that you can make jam any time of year. Strawberry season has just about arrived here in Florida and will soon be in full blast, so for my fellow Floridians, if you go strawberry picking, you’re all set with a recipe to make jam. The rest of you don’t have to hate us while you shovel snow and bundle up against the cold, because you can make jam too and make your kitchen feel like spring at least.

When I lived in New York, our family would go strawberry picking every year and come back home with buckets and buckets of gorgeous red beauties. We would eat until we could eat no more and of course we would still be left with a huge amount of berries. Berries spoil so fast, you have to work fast, or else all that hard work will be wasted. If you’re ambitious and have extra time, you can make jam right away, but another option is to freeze the berries while they are still at their best. You can use it for smoothies all throughout the year and make jam when you have some pockets of free time in the midst of your busy life.

Since I live in an urban area and have to travel many miles to get to any strawberry patch, I have discovered an awesome way of using really fresh and ripe strawberries without spending the time and energy to pick the berries myself. I just buy a bag of frozen strawberries and it makes wonderful jam. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak of freshness, which means they are ripe and full of flavor. Many times supermarket berries aren’t all that great – you probably know what I mean, kind of bland and watery. Since the berries are already washed and hulled, it really cuts down on prep work.

Last but not least, there’s another really special thing about this recipe – it has HALF as much sugar as most typical recipes. I know that you need a lot of sugar for the jam to set properly, but I’ve been playing around with this recipe for years now, and finally came up with a jam that isn’t cloyingly sweet. I’ve been making it this way for about 5 years now (probably more, just don’t want to unintentionally exaggerate) and it works really well. The jam sets, it’s not too sweet and my husband loves it. It’s so much better than store bought jam. I love using this jam in many recipes, especially as a filling in yeast buns, danishes, puff pastries and more commonplace ways like on toast and crepes.

Ingredients:

4 lbs strawberries (frozen or fresh)

3 1/2 cups granulated sugar

juice of 2 lemons and zest of 1 lemon (about 5-6 Tablespoons of lemon juice, you can use bottled lemon juice)

Instructions:

Cooking the Jam

Strawberry Jam-1-18Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Do you realize how easy this recipe is? Using frozen berries is such a time saver. No washing, hulling, slicing, etc. In most of my local grocery stores, you can find 4 lb bags of strawberries, so you don’t even have to weigh the berries. (That’s why I developed the recipe this way, to use up the whole bag.) I like to use a dutch oven, because it is wide, big and very sturdy. Strawberry Jam-2Using lemon zest is so brilliant in jam. I got this idea from Ina Garten and it gives so much flavor to the jam.

The lemon juice not only gives acidity to the jam, but also prevents the growth of bacteria in the jam. Most importantly, it has something really important – pectin. Pectin is what makes sure that the jam gels properly and isn’t a runny mess.

Cover the pot, and stirring every once in a while, bring the mixture to a boil. Strawberry Jam-3Since the berries are frozen, keep stirring everything until the sugar starts to dissolve and the berries start to melt. Soon, the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest will be evenly distributed and coating the berries. Keep the pot covered until the berry mixture comes to a boil.

Strawberry Jam-4Uncover, reduce the heat to low and keep simmering the jam for 35-45 minutes. Skim the foam off the top while the berries are cooking. Strawberry Jam-5If you’re using frozen berries, it will take longer to bring the jam to a boil and take a little bit longer to reach the right consistency, since the berries are frozen and will have more liquid than fresh berries. It will take longer for the extra liquid to evaporate. If you’re using a pot that isn’t wide, it will also take longer, since the smaller the surface area, the slower the evaporation.

How Do You Know When the Jam Is Finished Cooking?

The jam is finished cooking when it has thickened and reached 215-220 degrees Fahrenheit. Strawberry Jam-6A simple test you can use if you don’t want to use a thermometer is the cold plate test. Chill a plate in the freezer before you start making jam. When the jam seems to have reached the proper consistency, place a dollop of jam on the plate and let it stand for a minute of two. It should start to gel and shouldn’t be too runny. If you run your finger through the center, it shouldn’t run back together.Strawberry Jam-7When the jam is done cooking, crush the berries with the back of a spoon, a potato masher or an immersion blender. It should be really easy to do it, since the berries are really soft at this point. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you like. Strawberry Jam-8Don’t be too worried if the jam seems to be thinner than you would like, because it will become much thicker as it cools and sets. As long as you cooked it long enough and it reached 220 degrees Fahrenheit, it should be ok.

Strawberry Jam-9Fill sterilized jars with the jam and close with sterilized lids. Store at room temperature up to a year for best results. Refrigerate after opening.

Sterilizing the Jars

Wash the jars and lids in hot and soapy water. Then I place the glass jars in a 200 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 15 minutes. Strawberry Jam-10In a medium pot, place the lid rings covered with water. Bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the lids. Let them stand in the boiled water until you are done canning, at least 10 minutes.

Strawberry Jam-11Filling the Jars With Jam

Pour the hot jam into the hot and sterilized jars. Wipe the edges with a wet cloth to make sure they are clean. Strawberry Jam-12Place the lids on top of the jars and close with the lid rings. Strawberry Jam-13Place the jars into boiling water and make sure they are covered with water up to the top of the jars. Boil for at about 10 minutes. Take the jars out of the boiling water. Cool the jars in a towel for about 12 hours. The lid should be concave.

Storing the Jam

If you process the jars in the boiling water, you can store the jam at room temperature.

If you don’t sterilize the jars and the jam, you need to store it in a refrigerator. Store open jars of jam in the refrigerator as well.
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How To Make Homemade Strawberry Jam

  • Author: Olga's Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 3 pints 1x
  • Category: Breakfast

Description

Making homemade strawberry jam is quite simple and you only need a few ingredients. You can use both fresh or frozen berries. This homemade version has a smooth texture that isn’t too stiff, with just the right amount of sweetness, not cloying at all.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons and zest of 1 lemon (about 56 Tablespoons of lemon juice, you can use bottled lemon juice)

Instructions

  1. Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large, heavy bottomed pot. I like to use a dutch oven, because it is wide, big and very sturdy.
  2. Since the berries are frozen, keep stirring everything until the sugar starts to dissolve and the berries start to melt. Soon, the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest will be evenly distributed and coating the berries. Keep the pot covered until the berry mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Uncover, reduce the heat to low and keep simmering the jam for 35-45 minutes. Skim the foam off the top while the berries are cooking. If you’re using frozen berries, it will take longer to bring the jam to a boil and take a little bit longer to reach the right consistency, since the berries are frozen and will have more liquid than fresh berries. It will take longer for the extra liquid to evaporate. If you’re using a pot that isn’t wide, it will also take longer, since the smaller the surface area, the slower the evaporation. The jam is finished cooking when it has thickened and reached 215-220 degrees Fahrenheit. A simple test you can use if you don’t want to use a thermometer is the cold plate test. Chill a plate in the freezer before you start making jam. When the jam seems to have reached the proper consistency, place a dollop of jam on the plate and let it stand for a minute of two. It should start to gel and shouldn’t be too runny. If you run your finger through the center, it shouldn’t run back together.
  4. When the jam is done cooking, crush the berries with the back of a spoon, a potato masher or an immersion blender. It should be really easy to do it, since the berries are really soft at this point. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you like.
  5. Fill sterilized jars with the jam and close with sterilized lids. Store at room temperature up to a year for best results. Refrigerate after opening.

 

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17 Comments

  • Tanya

    Olga, Thank you so much for this recipe! You have no idea how timely too! Our Safeway store just had an awesome deal on frozen berries and I bought so much that I didn’t know what to do besides making smoothies. Smoothies, it turns out my daughter doesn’t really like them. So, now I’ll make a jam and use it in her kasha. So, thank you!!!!

    • olgak7

      I have made raspberry jam using frozen berries many times, Sana, but unfortunately, I’ve only made it without measuring the sugar or testing the time that it takes to cook, etc. It might be a little bit different than the strawberry jam. I also always strain raspberry jam through a fine mesh sieve after it’s done cooking, because I don’t like the seeds in it.

  • Masha L

    I made this the other day. I took some time for it to get to the right consistency probably over one hour . But I really really like the jam. Thanks for the great recipe! I used frozen strawberries.

    • olgak7

      I’m so glad you liked the jam, Masha. Thank you for taking the time to write. It does take much longer to cook than most other recipes because frozen berries have so much more moisture that needs to cook off and using less sugar also adds more time to the cooking.

  • Fernanda

    Hello Olga, I was thinking of giving it a go with this recipe but I remembered having 3 bags of frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, bluberries and blackberries) in my freezer. Would it be a good a idea to have those 4 fruits in my jam with this recipe??

  • Bo Kwon

    Hi there,

    I read your recipe and have some questions: why do you need to store the jam in the fridge after you open it? Does it go bad if you put it in a room temperature? Also, I made strawberry jam yesterday following another recipe that i found online, and it told me to put lemon juice in the middle of the berry mix boiling. Is there a reason why you put everything together at the beginning of the recipe? Please let me know! 🙂

    Thank you,

    Bo

  • Nadia

    Hi Olga,
    I just have a few clarification questions on how to sterilize the jars with jam.

    When boiling the jars with jam already inside, does the hot water need to cover the whole jar, including the lids?
    And what exactly do you mean by “cool the jar with a towel for 12 hours?

    Thank you for the clarification.
    Nadia

    • olgak7

      The water just needs to come up to the top, not cover the lids.
      I cover the completely finished, sterilized jars with a towel until they cool off completely, just so they gradually decrease in temperature. Probably not a necessary step, but it’s what my Mom always did, so I do it too.
      I hope this helps, Nadia.

  • Elaine

    Olga I made your Strawberry jam oh it is yummy and a beautiful red. So much easier using frozen berries. Wow. Thank you and take care.

  • Smitha

    Olga, ive always made jam wuth store bought pectin. Thanks for sharing that lemon juice has pectin in it. i had some blackberries in my freezer so I made jam with it using 3 cups sugar and the juice of 3 limes since i never have lemons on hand but always lime. Then I strained it through a sev since blackberry has so much seeds in it and i wanted a smooth jam. It turned out great.
    Do the jars have to be sterilized? i just filled it in glass jars and put it in the refrigerator once cooled. Can mason jars be reused for canning jam? Just sterilize it every time?

    • olgak7

      Hi Smitha,
      That’s awesome that you made blackberry jam. We used to make it all the time with my Mom before I got married.
      You don’t have to sterilize the jars as long as you keep them refrigerated. If you want to store the jam at room temperature, then you do need to sterilize the jars.
      Yes, you can definitely reuse mason jars. We use them for many, many years. I would get new lids, but the jars are perfect as long as you sterilize them.

  • Karen

    Thank you for sharing this super easy recipe. With Christmas around the corner it make it easy to give my mini loaves and half pint jam for quick gifts. How many jars will this recipe use? Also, I’ve used about a TBL of butter to cut the foam and has always worked like a charm.

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