Homemade Strawberry Jam

June 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm 20 comments


Strawberry season was a glorious one this year, starting early and lasting a long time.   From the very first quart of local strawberries I saw  – or rather smelled – in early May, I vowed to savor them more than ever.  Somehow  that sweet ripe fragrance got in my nose and stayed there, keeping the craving constant for these morsels of juicy ruby heaven.   I never did get my fill, even after more than a dozen quarts! 

Quarts of strawberries

While it was a bit expensive buying my strawberries from fellow vendors at the farmers market, I felt it was a worthwhile indulgence for fresh eating, particularly after a long hot day of selling my flowers.  I wasn’t quite willing to fork over more than $6 a quart (really) to make my annual stash of strawberry jam though so I wait until I visited my parents in rural central Pennsylvania to stop by a nearby produce farm that had generous quarts of super-ripe berries for a mere three bucks.   I greedily grabbed five quarts, though only four somehow ended up in Philly after the three hour drive back.  Musta been a hole in the car console or maybe a stow away squirrel on board…

Strawberry Before and After

In any case, to send off strawberry season in style, I made a luscious batch of jam scented with a vanilla bean and cooked to a perfect consistency.   Jam making really is quite easy, especially when you have a simple recipe that doesn’t require that dreaded pack of pectin that never seems to be on city store shelves.   If you haven’t tried making your own homemade jam or jelly before (by the way, jam in chunky, jelly is strained to be smooth), this is the perfect one to try since it’s really very simple.  The only trick to making sure the jam thickens is to let it boil vigorously, which means you’ll be needing a very large pot to keep it from spilling over and making a mess of your stove. 

Jam on toast

Slathered on a fresh thick slice of bread from a loaf given to me by another farmers market vendor,  I decided strawberry season wasn’t really ending after all.  This jam is so full of fresh berry flavor, I’ll feel like I’m eating a ripe strawberry when I crack open a jar in December. 

Spreading strawberry jam

Homemade Strawberry Jam

5 C. crushed strawberries*
4 1/2 C. granular sugar
1/3 C. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, scraped

*I used about 3 quarts of whole ripe berries to get this amount of crushed.

Gently wash berries, cut off the tops, and place in a large bowl to mash up with a potato masher or large fork.  Measure out berries into a very large heavy pot to confirm you have five cups.  Use a very large pot because the jam will expand while boiling.  Add the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean scrapings. 

Place three small plates in the freezer.

Stir mixture and set over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat to high and stay with the pot because the jam will begin to intensely boil.  Stir regularly to keep the bottom from burning.  Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until you notice some resistance when stirring. 

Place a small amount of jam on one of the cold plates and place back in the freezer for a minute.  Run your finger through the middle of the dab of jam.  If it doesn’t run back together, the jam is ready.  If it does run back together, continue to boil the jam for another minute or two and try testing it again. 

Transfer jam to hot sterile jars (simmer jars in a large pot of water while making the jam), leaving a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jar.  Seal with sterile lids and turn upside down on a dish towel to cool.

When jars are completely cool, test the lids.  If they spring back when pressed, they have not sealed; store those jars in the fridge.  Jars with taut lids are sealed and can be stored in the cupboard until opened. 

(makes about 6 pints)


Entry filed under: Preserves, Recipes. Tags: , , , , .

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20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Food-Fitness-FreshAir  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    They were making strawberry jam at my work (a CSA farm in Holtwood, PA) the other week and cherry jam this week. I didn’t think the strawberries here were as good this year though. Not as sweet or flavorful as other years, but I certainly ate my share regardless!

  • 2. gretchen  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Yum! it looks so good…
    I’ve only ever made freezer jam, probably because of fear of the lids not sealing or something equally silly.

  • 3. Eric  |  June 25, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Makes me want to buy up some more strawberries and get to jam making 🙂

  • 4. Rachel  |  June 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I’ve never done it without the pectin. The intense boiling scares me, but you always have a way of convincing me to try. Maybe with peaches. I picked strawberries 3 times and did different jams. It IS such a taste of summer when opened on a cold winter day. So worth it!

  • 5. Nourishing Words  |  June 25, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Mmmm. I like the vanilla idea. I’ve been using a tiny bit of vanilla with fresh strawberries in my oatmeal and loving it. Trying it in jam sounds perfect. I’m not usually so adventuresome, but I want this strawberry season to last forever.

  • 6. Using What I Have « Nourishing Words  |  June 26, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    […] I’ll make a very special strawberry jam, a recipe from Jennie at Straight from the Farm, that uses lemon juice and vanilla bean (and no pectin). What a perfect way to remember strawberry […]

  • 7. kate  |  June 26, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    this looks amazing…i just did mine and boiled like crazy AND used pectin. let it be known that this makes it a bit too gelled!! the no pectin will be better next time 🙂

  • 8. Nourishing Words  |  June 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    I made it (without pectin) and it’s a little on the runny side. I boiled it for about 16 minutes, and started convincing myself that I’d ruin it with too much boiling! It’s delicious; I’m just wondering what I should do differently next time. Keep cooking? (I never did get it to pass the freezer plate test, I’m afraid…)

    • 9. Jennie  |  June 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm

      Sorry to hear it turned out a bit runny…you really do have to boil the heck out of it. I’m talking about leaving the heat on high the whole time and the jam spitting and gurgling like crazy. You won’t ruin it with too much boiling, don’t worry. Definitely keep boiling it until it set up on the freezer plate test. I promise it works! You just have to keep the boil up high. That’s why you need a really big pot to deal with how much it expands and spits at you. 🙂

      • 10. Nourishing Words  |  June 28, 2010 at 7:19 pm

        Thanks! I’ll be braver next time. In the meantime, what I made is perfectly useable, just a little on the watery side. Not really a problem at all.

  • 11. shayma  |  June 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    i really, really love your photos. x shayma

    • 12. Jennie  |  June 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      Aw, thanks, Shayma! I love getting all your glowing compliments/comments. 🙂

  • 13. Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run]  |  July 1, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Outstanding photos!!

  • 14. Sarah  |  July 20, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Just discovered your blog and I’m enjoying it! I can relate to this post. I have a community garden plot in Allentown and a big ol’ strawberry patch. There’s still some sorbet left in my freezer that my will power has kept me from destroying. It’s there for an emergency!

  • 15. neil  |  October 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I would like to know if you ladies know of a similar recipe for diabetic not using stevia because it not allowed in Canada.In a few days I am going to start making a sugarfree,artificial free sweetener jam for diabetics.Help is required! I have a daughter whose is lactose intolerant. and celiac.! also have a son in law who is diabetic.

    thank you ladies that respond
    Neil in Canada

  • 16.   Safeway Deals 4/20 thru 4/26 by Savegirl.com  |  April 21, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    […] Strawberries (1 lb.), B1G2   Regular price: $3.99/ea, 67% savings. (This recipe for homemade strawberry jam looks […]

  • 17. Kim  |  August 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    This recipe doesn’t need to be put in a water bath?

  • 18. Robin  |  March 21, 2012 at 10:01 am

    This is great recipe. I had a dinner party for my father-in-law and had 6 quarts of store bought strawberries left over. I also used bottled lemon juice and a cap full of pure vanilla extract (as fresh was not available when I made it). I used a candy thermometer and boiled it to 220 degrees F. I only got 4 pints and 2 small jars (maybe you meant it makes 6 half-pints??). I then water bathed it for 5 minutes, but I am sure it would have sealed otherwise. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  • 19. Laura  |  September 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    How long will the sealed jars last in the cupboard?

  • 20. Lisa  |  April 22, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Just found you’re blog! I’ve made my first batch ever using you’re recipe. I wanted to know how long sealed jars last?


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