Strawberry Season in Southeastern Indiana means strawberry jam without added pectin at my house!
The season only lasts a couple weeks, so you better hurry up and get your local strawberries before they’re gone.
Why Make Strawberry Jam Without Added Pectin?
The boxes of pectin that line the shelves in the canning aisle at your local supermarket this time of year (with cutesy sounding brand names that usually include the word “gel” or “jell”) often contain Genetically Modified Organisms!
Take a look at the ingredients in this store brand pectin “gel” I purchased a couple days ago. No, we are not going to eat it. Purchasing it was merely a sacrifice for the cause.
It contains dextrose and citric acid, which are both typically derived from corn.
And since the majority of the corn grown in the USA is genetically modified, AKA Frankencorn, these boxes of powdered pectin likely contain GMOs. And, they also likely heavily contaminated with glycophosphate, because it seems to go hand in hand with GMO crops. source 1, source 2
I don’t know about you, but I shudder at the thought of adding GMO and pesticide containing ingredients to my fresh Organically grown Indiana Strawberries.
No Thank you! Not in my Jam.
Thankfully, added pectin isn’t necessary to make great Jam! There is enough natural pectin right in the fruit to get the job done.
Because our awesome God thought of everything!
How else do you think your great grandmother made jam 100 years or more ago?
Speaking of GMO’s…. Make sure you use “pure cane sugar” or better yet “organic cane sugar” in your strawberry jam without added pectin. Yes, it will cost more, but……. I hate to tell you, it’s probably the only way to insure your sugar isn’t genetically modified too. source 3, source 4
Strawberry Jam Without Added Pectin
I recommend you read through the entire recipe before you begin, so you’ll have all the cooking implements you’ll need ready to go.
2 quarts of fresh or frozen strawberries
4 cups of organic cane sugar
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of butter
Place a small cereal bowl or saucer in the freezer. No, I’m not kidding. Keep reading, you’ll see.
Wash Strawberries and remove stems.
Crush the strawberries. You can do this in a large bowl with a potato masher and some muscle or pulse them in your food processor a couple times.
I like big chunks of berries in my jam and I hate cleaning my food processor, so I use the potato masher method.
Measure out 4 cups of crushed strawberries and place them into a large sauce pan.
Add sugar, lemon juice and butter.
Heat the mixture, stirring constantly. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Once the jam darkens in color, start testing it to see if it’s ready.
Here is a picture of two batches of jam that I cooked at about same time. The batch on the front burner is almost done and the batch on the back burner is done. Notice the color differences?
Why two sauce pans full of jam, instead of one big on? It’s best not to double a jam recipe. It might gel properly.
To test the jam, spoon a teaspoon of the hot jam into the bowl you put in the freezer before you started. Let it rest for 30 seconds. Tip bowl to one side. The jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If it’s thin and runs easily, the gel is too soft. Return the bowl to the freezer, cook the jam for a few more minutes and test it again.
Once your strawberry jam passes the gel test, remove it from the heat and skim off any foam that has formed. Since you added a preventative teaspoon of butter, you might not have any foam to skim off. I usually don’t.
If you do get foam and can’t remove every last bit of it, don’t worry. The foam isn’t harmful, it’s just kind of ugly and tasteless.
This recipe yields about 5 half pints.
Strawberry jam will keep in your refrigerator in an airtight container for about a week.
Preserving Strawberry Jam
If you can’t consume all of strawberry jam you’ve made in a week (or you’re making multiple batches to enjoy later) freeze or water bath can your strawberry jam for extended storage following the directions below.
Freezing Strawberry Jam
Pour finished jam into several small freezer safe jars or containers. Leave ½ inch head space to allow for expanding.
Allow your Strawberry Jam to sit and cure at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. Then freeze put the containers in your freezer.
Strawberry Jam without added Pectin will store in your freezer for 1 year. Once thawed it will keep for one to three weeks in your refrigerator. Which is why you will want to store your jam in several small containers as opposed to one larger one.
Water Bath Can Strawberry Jam
If your going to can your strawberry jam, you need to gather your canning equipment and prepare your jars and lids before you begin making the jam.
You will need, a water bath caner or a large pot with a lid, a wide mouth funnel, a jar lifter, a lid lifter magnet, a ladle, half pint jars, jar lids, rings, a clean lint free cloth and a few dish towels.
Bring 5 lids (or more if you are making several batches at once) to a boil in a small sauce pan of water. Then reduce the heat to a very slow simmer, just enough heat to keep them hot. Keep an eye on the lids every once in a while so they don’t boil dry on you. Just keep adding hot water if needed.
Sterilize half pint jars by boiling them for 10 minutes in your water bath caner. Then reduce the heat to a simmer to keep the jars warm while you’re making the strawberry jam. If you have hard water, add two tablespoons of vinegar to the water to reduce mineral deposits on your jars.
Spread out a clean dish towel (that you don’t mind getting stained with red strawberry jam) on your counter top or table. The closer to your stove the better. You’ll be setting hot jars on this towel, so if you have little ones around, think about that before you choose a location.
When the Jam is done cooking according to the directions in the recipe above, remove the jars from the water bath caner with your jar lifter. Then ladle hot jam into hot half pint jars leaving ½ in head space. Your wide mouth funnel makes this job easier.
Once all the jars are filled, set your funnel aside and carefully wipe off the rims and threads with a clean, damp, lint free cloth. This helps remove any debris that could potentially compromise a good seal.
Use your magnetic lid lifter to remove the lids from the hot water they are simmering in. Place one lid on each jar and screw on a ring until it’s just starting to tighten. Don’t crank it down.
Carefully lower each jar of jam into your water bath caner using your jar lifter. Make sure the water level is at least 2 inches above each jar. Put the lid on and bring your water bath caner to a boil. Process (boil) for 5 minutes. If your canning your jam in pints, process them for 10 minutes.
While your strawberry jam is processing, spread a clean dish towel out on your table or counter top. This one won’t get stained. You’ll be sitting your hot, finished jars of jam on this towel. And they will need to sit there undisturbed for 24 hours. Choose your spot accordingly.
Once fully processed, remove each jar from the water bath caner using your jar lifter and set them on the clean towel you prepared.
Hopefully you’ll hear them pop closed soon, but even if you don’t don’t touch them.
Leave the jars alone for 24 hours. Don’t move them. Don’t shake them. Just leave them alone.
The next day, remove the rings from the jars and check to see if they sealed tightly.
Store the tightly sealed jars in your pantry for up to a year.
If any jars didn’t seal you can pop them in your refrigerator and use them first, freeze them or reprocess them.
Don’t double this recipe. It might not set up correctly. If you are working up a large number of strawberries into a lot of jam, then make two separate small batches at the same time on the stove. Then can or freeze as one big batch.
Have a few strawberries that aren’t quite as ripe as you’d like? Go ahead and toss a couple of them into each batch. Green berries have more pectin in them that ripe ones.
The consistency of strawberry jam made without pectin is not quite as firm as store bought jam. I prefer it this way, as it’s more spreadable. Store bought Jams feel unnatural in my mouth now that I am used to natural jams. But if for some reason you want a stiffer jam, you can purchase Pomona’s Universal Pectin and follow the directions inside the box. It is GMO free.
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