There’s nothing like homemade Strawberry Jam
Easy to make 3-ingredient strawberry jam recipe that you can prep and make in an hour. Great for using fresh strawberries from the market or garden
If there’s one preserve that everyone should learn to make it’s strawberry jam. There’s something magical that happens when sugar and strawberries are cooked together. The taste brings me back to my childhood and memories of sweet strawberry preserves spooned over fresh yoghurt, toast, or scones. It’s pure nostalgic comfort food. If you were lucky enough to have homemade strawberry jam when you were growing up then you know what I mean.
Making it yourself and serving it to loved ones creates new and delicious memories. It’s easy to do too because this strawberry jam recipe is simple in many ways. You need just three ingredients and it’s prepped, cooked, and poured in an hour.
Using fresh strawberries
My first job when I was a kid was picking strawberries at a farm. I probably ate more than I picked! The one thing that twelve year old self really remembers though is that berries that were over-ripe or turning brown were sent off to a jam making company. I’ve thought about that every since and am convinced that it’s the reason that most supermarket jams are ho-hum in flavour compared to homemade.
When you preserve any fresh fruit or vegetable, make sure it’s the best of the best. All the flaws of the starting material will be preserved along with it. With strawberries make sure that they’re firm, juicy, and shiny. Slightly under-ripe fruit has a higher pectin content — pectin is what helps ‘gel’ the jam. That means using slightly under-ripe fruit is better than using over-ripe.
Growing your own strawberries means that you have the choice of dozens of different varieties. I currently grow ‘Mara des Bois’, a small, red berry and pineberries, a white to blush-pink berry. You can use any type of strawberry to make this recipe, which gets me to thinking that I should make a batch of pineberry jam.
3-ingredient Strawberry Jam
This recipe is touted as being a 3-ingredient strawberry jam recipe. Those ingredients are fresh strawberries, lemon juice, and jam sugar. Here on the Isle of Man jam sugar is relatively common and is a special mix of white sugar, pectin, and citric acid.
If you can’t get a hold of jam sugar, don’t worry. Use the same amount of ordinary sugar but add 8g (0.28oz or 1 packet) pectin to the recipe. The lemon juice in the recipe has pectin in it too but it’s in the recipe mainly for flavour.
Jam making equipment
Making jam isn’t complicated but there’s a few things that you’ll need to get started. If you’re not comfortable using the plate method for testing setting point then I recommend getting a candy thermometer or digital temperature gun. Jam and jellies have an ideal setting temperature and if you can measure that then it makes the process even easier. You can also use the cold plate method that I describe in the recipe and honestly, it’s the way that I prefer. It’s the way grandma used to make her jam and it works for me too.
- Candy thermometer or digital temperature gun
- Jam jars
- If you’re using mason/kilner jars you’ll need lids — I like these BPA free Tattler lids
- Stock pot or very large pan. If you want a proper jam making pot then get a Maslin pan
- Jam funnel
3-Ingredient Strawberry Jam Recipe
- 1 Kg fresh Strawberries 2.2 lbs
- 1 Kg Jam sugar 2.2 lbs
- 4 tsp Lemon juice
- Clean and sterilize your jars. I like to place my jars in the oven at 130°C / 270°F for 20 minutes and then let them cool. For the lids, I pour boiling water over them and leave them in it for five minutes before repeating. They should be dry when you use them to seal your jars.
- Put a plate in the freezer in preparation for testing the setting point.
- Rinse the strawberries then remove the green leaves. There's no need to hull them, just twist the leaves off or slice them off with a knife. Try not to cut too much of the berry off though. Depending on how big your berries are, you can choose to cut them up too. Mine were small so I left them whole. If yours are larger than an inch in length, quarter them.
- Measure your berries afterwards. If they're less than what's required, rinse and top up the amount with some stand-by berries. Hopefully you haven't eaten them all by now!
- Place the berries in a large sauce pan or stock pot -- one that looks as if it could hold four times more berries than you have. Pour the lemon juice over them and then the jam sugar. Stir to coat. Although some say it's unnecessary, I like to fill the bottom of the pan with about 1/4" water. If you can't find jam sugar, read the section on ingredients further up in this piece.
- Put the hob on to medium-high and bring the strawberries to a rolling boil. Stand at the pan after it hits this point and stir every now and again. The jam will boil up and over the sides of your pan if you walk away -- it's just Murphy's law at work!As they boil, the berries will break down on their own for the most part. You can help this along by mashing with a large spoon or potato masher as they boil.
- After the jam has been at a rolling boil for 20 minutes, test the setting point. This is the stage at when the pectin in the recipe (in the jam sugar and lemon juice) makes the liquid gel up.An easy way to test the setting point is to dribble some jam on the cold plate you prepared. Wait about thirty seconds for it to cool and then push it with your finger. If it starts crinkling up, it's time to move on to the next step.If it's still liquidy, you need to boil for longer. My most recent batch took about 35 minutes of boiling to reach the setting point.104°C / 220°F is the ideal setting temperature if you have a candy thermometer or digital temperature gun.
- There will most likely be a kind of foam on the top of your jam. Before you pour it into jars you should skim this off. It's tasty and completely edible but doesn't look great in jars.
- Pour the hot jam into your warm, sterilized jars. Seal them immediately with the lids. Remember that there should be a rubber seal all around the inner edge of the lid for it to seal properly. Some lids, like my BPA-free Tattler lids, come with separate rubber seals. If you're using lids that require screw rings, tighten them fairly firm.
- Water-bath the jars to ensure that they're fully sterilized*. Fill a tall pan with water and place either a rack at the bottom. Bring to a boil then lower your jars in so that they're not touching and that there's at least an inch of water above. Bring back to a rolling boil and leave the jars in the boiling water for five minutes. Lift them out vertically (not tilted) with a jar lifter and set them on the counter to cool. The lids will seal as the jam cools – you’ll hear a pop as the seal closes. It may take twelve or more hours for the seal to take.
- Leave the jars sitting on a kitchen counter-top to cool down. You'll know the jars have successfully sealed when you hear each pop! That sound is filled with so much happiness for me.If you're not sure if some jars have sealed or not, press the top of the lid. If it moves up and down easily then it's probably not sealed. If it's firmly yet subtly indented downwards then it's sealed.
- Store the jam for up to a year in a cool cupboard or larder. Once open, refrigerate and use within six months.
- In Britain, it's not common for people to water-bath high-acid preserves like this strawberry jam. That's because there's been no national body that gives advice on such matters since WWII and food science has moved on since then. The information that people use to preserve food in the UK is very much outdated and can lead to a lot of spoilage and potentially make you sick. You can read more on the topic here.