My family recently went strawberry picking at a farm not too far from home. We had so much fun picking and eating loads of fresh sweet strawberries that I’m sure it will become an annual family tradition. The only problem of course is that we ended up with around 6 kg (13.2 pounds) of strawberries and there’s only so many strawberries we can eat and smoothies we can make before they go bad.
I’ve made jam before (see my mulberry jam recipe here); so I know it’s not hard to do; just time consuming. Homemade jam tastes divine and is so much better than any commercially made jam you can buy so it’s definitely worth the effort. Homemade jam also make perfect gifts for friends and family. This recipe doesn’t use pectin to thicken the jam, but uses lemon juice instead. It has been adapted from a recipe in delicious.
- 1 kg fresh ripe strawberries
- 1 kg caster sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
Note: I had 4.4 kg of strawberries to use, so I used 4.4 kg of caster sugar and the juice of 4 lemons. So essentially use equal parts strawberries and sugar and the juice of 1 lemon for each 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of strawberries (or there about) to make jam.
First things first, make sure you wash and rinse your strawberries thoroughly and let them dry on tea or paper towels (they don’t have to be completely dry before making the jam though). Remove all the top stalks (calyx) with a sharp knife.
Next break up your strawberries. My daughters don’t like lumpy jam, so I used a food processor to mash my strawberries up finely, but if you prefer more rustic jams with large pieces of fruit, use a potato masher to break up your strawberries instead.
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan (I used a very large 20 litre saucepan), add your mashed strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Mix it around and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to macerate.
While the strawberry mix is macerating, sterilise your jars. Preserving jars are best to use, but recycling empty jars works well too. For 1 kg of strawberries, you’ll probably need at least 6 jars depending on the jar sizes you have. Preheat your oven to 180C/ 350F.
Thoroughly wash the jars and their lids in hot soapy water. Rinse them well and place them on a clean tea towel to dry. Place your jars and lids on a clean baking tray and pop them in the oven to dry and sterilise.
On a low heat, gently warm your strawberries until the sugar has completely dissolved. Your jam will be very runny at this stage.
Turn up the heat until your jam is bubbling. Use a cooking thermometer if you have one, but don’t panic if you don’t. You can test whether your jam is ready without one. Your jam will begin bubbling at 100C but it needs to reach 105C before it will set. This can take up to 10 minutes.
If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, place a side plate in the freezer. When your jam has been bubbling for a while, spoon a small amount on the plate. If the jam gels and you can draw a line through it with your finger the jam is ready. If it doesn’t, return your plate to the freezer and repeat again in another 5 minutes.
Safety message: making jam can be very dangerous as molten bubbling sugar can leave nasty burns. Please use caution and always use tea towels or silicone mitts when handling jam utensils or sterilised jars.
Remove your sterilised jars from the oven and very carefully ladle or pour in the jam. Add the lids on before the jam cools too much. The steam will create a pressure vacuum inside your jar preserving the jam. Let the jam cool to room temperature. Store them either in the pantry or fridge. The jam, if you used sterile jars, should last for 12 months. Refrigerate after opening.As I only had 12 jars to fill with my jam, I had a lot of jam left over. I therefore filled a couple of clean (unsterilised) plastic containers and placed them in the freezer. Freezer jam will also last for 12 months without preserving.As I didn’t use pectin, my jam didn’t firm as much as commercial jams, but it doesn’t make much of a difference and tastes unbelievably yummy! Perfect for spreading on toast, scones or a sponge cake.