It’s strawberry season and I cannot get enough of those deep red, flavorful beauties. Whether your garden is overflowing with them or you just picked some up from your local store or farmer’s market, now is the time to indulge. It’s also the perfect time to make some homemade strawberry jam. When I am craving something sweet, I love to load up a piece of gluten free bread with homemade strawberry jam. My husband always reminds me when I’m making his toast that he doesn’t want a “Lauren style” spread of jam...what can I say I like equal parts jam and bread.
When I first decided to teach myself to make jam, I did lots of research on techniques and recipes but there is so much information out there it feels so overwhelming. And after all the research it felt really intimidating (and hard). Plus, I found that all of the recipes made like a gallon of jam. I kept thinking what could I possibly do with this much jam!? So I decided to create the perfect middle ground, an easy recipe that’s truly small batch. To me, it makes just enough for a family portion or you could split it and keep half for yourself and gift a jar to a friend or neighbor.
You may be asking, why go to the trouble of making my own jam when I can literally walk down the grocery aisle and simply grab a jar? Which of course is convenient, but have you read the ingredients on that jar of jelly or jam? Corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and probably a few words you can’t read are likely to be listed. This jam however is 3 ingredients: strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. That’s it! The taste is completely different than a store bought jam. It keeps the integrity of this summer fruit intact so all you taste is sweet strawberry deliciousness.
Here are a few tips for making delicious homemade jam:
- Your strawberries should be ripe but not overripe. You don’t want to use strawberries that are on the verge of going bad, they will not have a enough natural pectin (which helps it properly set).
- Slowly increase your heat and keep your eye on the jam. You’ll get an idea of when it’s done just by watching it go from a liquid, foamy boil, to a bubbly, gooey jam. It just takes a bit of patience.
- As you stir, be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan and watch for an signs of burning. Pull your pot off if for some reason you think it’s burning, turn your heat down a bit and then continue to cook.
- If you like less chunks in your jam, you can mash the strawberries a bit as you cook them.
- Since we aren’t canning this jam, you will want to keep it refrigerated and use it within 2 weeks for best taste.
I also want to add that when it comes to jam, it’s not limited to toast or PB&J’s (though let's be real, those are delicious ways to use this classic condiment). Jam is also really versatile and can be a sophisticated addition to a dish. To show you how I love to use this jam at summer parties and for guests, I’ve included a recipe for my favorite quick appetizer.
Simple Homemade Strawberry Jam
- Glass jar or jars
- Candy thermometer (optional)
- 1 lb strawberries about 3 cups cut into chunks
- ½ c sugar
- ⅓ c brown sugar
- 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Remove stems and cut strawberries into chunks. Place in a medium size bowl
- Add sugars and lemon juice to strawberries and mix to cover strawberries. Allow to soak for at least 2 hours (I like to leave mine overnight).
- When ready to cook jam, place a plate in the freezer (I’ll explain this step at the end).
- Clean jar(s) and add hot water to them, set aside. This will prepare them for the jam and prevent glass breakage.
- Add strawberry mixture over a med-low heat to a deep, heavy bottom pot. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Increase to high and cook until you get a rolling boil. Stir occasionally.
- Once at a rolling boil you will see foam form at the top. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes.
- The foam should be mostly be boiled off at this point and it will start to look more like a gooey jam consistency. Continue to stir regularly. If using a thermometer, your jam should be very close to or at 220 degrees after about 15-20 minutes of cooking which means it is ready.
- To ensure your jam is properly set, pull out the plate from your freezer and spread a small amount of the jam on the plate and put back in the freezer for 1 minute. Then remove and swipe your finger through the middle, if it stays separated, the jam is properly set (see image).
- Discard warm water from jar(s) and carefully pour hot jam in. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes on the counter and then seal with an airtight lid and place in the fridge. Use within 14 days.
Strawberry Jam, Basil, & Goat Cheese Bites
- Crackers I use these
- Goat Cheese
- Homemade Strawberry Jam
- Fresh Basil
- Assemble bites by layering goat cheese, strawberry jam, and basil on a cracker.
- Make as many as you need, perfect for a snack or a party. These are perfect for last minute guests and picnics.
Photography by Chase Daniel