Homemade strawberry jam has long since been a staple in the Lehman family kitchen. I grew up watching my brother eat it on toast, my dad scoop it up with crackers as a sweet dessert, and my mom prepare it from scratch. It wasn’t until recent years, however, that I joined her in the annual jam making.
My mom makes all things cooking look both amazing and effortless. I was intimidated by jam-making, but she assured me that it was simple as long as you knew a few tricks.
For one batch, you only need 4 ingredients: 2 cups fresh strawberries, 4 cups sugar, 1 (1.75 ounce) package dry fruit pectin, and 3/4 cup water.
We made 4 recipes which produced 23 1/2 pints of jam and took just over an hour —most of which was spent hulling the strawberries.
The first trick to jam is to start off with room temperature strawberries. It is also important to note that while we did make 4 batches total, we only did two at a time. We have found that the jam is less likely to set-up or thicken properly when more than two recipes is made at a time.
After hulling all the strawberries, we threw them into a food processor to crush them. Then, we stirred in the sugar and let it sit for 10 minutes, and in the meantime, we prepared the fruit pectin.
When mixing the fruit pectin and water, you need to add the pectin to room temperature water, before gradually heating it on the stove. You want it to dissolve completely, and, if you add it to hot water initially, it will cause lumping.
Once the pectin is dissolved, turn the stove from low to medium-high, bringing the mixture to a boil. Keep the mixture at a boil for one minute, while stirring continuously.
Before combining everything, stir the sugar and strawberries once more, then slowly add in the boiled pectin.
That’s it! The last step is to pour your jam into jars. My mom and I used a funnel and ladle to pour our jam into a variety of half pint and pint-size containers. We wiped the outside of our jars and added the lid, just an hour and 5 minutes after starting.
The last key to remember is to let the jam sit on the counter for about 24 hours before freezing. Then, whenever you need more jam you can grab one from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge or microwave it for 30 seconds, or so.
If you’re anything like our family though, you won’t want to wait. Feel free to test out the jam right away—it may not be as thick, but it will still taste great!
Editor’s Note: This article was first posted in July 2018.