Strawberry jam is a summer staple. This is peak season for ripe, plump and juicy berries – and the best time of year to blend them into homemade jam. Read on for our step-by-step guide for how to make strawberry jam – with a twist. Hint: It features another of our favorite farm-fresh ingredients.
To make the best strawberry jam, you have to master three ingredients: fruit, sugar and acid. The most delicious jams combine the right proportions of berries, sweetness and tartness to deliver smooth texture and mouth-watering flavor.
Picking Your Fruit
Fruit is the base of your jam. Be selective, as the fruit you choose will determine the flavor, texture, sweetness and tartness of your end product. Keep these tips in mind:
- Choose slightly under-ripe fruit – it naturally contains more pectin, which will help your jam set.
- Fresh is best: Pick what’s in season and go organic to ensure you’re choosing the healthiest and most nutritious option.
- Don’t be afraid to blend flavors! Some of the best jams combine a variety of fruits and berries.
Do You Need To Add Pectin?
Pectin is what helps your jam set. It occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is most concentrated in skins and cores where it provides structural support. When combined with sugar and acid, it forms a gel-like substance – the perfect consistency for a jam or jelly.
While some jam recipes call for synthetic, powdered pectin, we prefer to keep things natural. If you’re starting with a low-pectin berry, like strawberry, you can mix in a pectin-rich fruit to achieve the desired texture. High-pectin fruits include:
- Cooking apples
Now that you’ve chosen your fruit, it is time to sweeten things up. In addition to helping preserve your fruit, sugar plays a major role in its overall taste and feel. Using the right amount of sugar will thicken your fruit and provide the perfect balance of sweetness. Most recipes call for ¼ to ¾ cups of sugar per pound of fruit but feel free to experiment – if the mix is too tart for your taste buds, it’s perfectly fine to add more. Just be sure to make any adjustments at the beginning of the cooking process.
The right amount of acidity is crucial to a well-balanced jam. Not only does it return some of the tang lost with the addition of sugar, but it also activates the pectin in the fruit, allowing the jam to gel. A tablespoon of lemon or lime juice per pound of fruit is typically plenty to keep your jam bright, flavorful and firm. As with sugar, feel free to adjust to taste.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe
Now that you know the basics, you can start making your own strawberry jam. Here, we’ve added organic rhubarb for the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Follow this recipe (adapted from The New York Times) for how to make strawberry rhubarb jam from the comfort of your own kitchen.
- 7 cups organic rhubarb, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 7 cups fresh organic strawberries, halved
- 4 cups organic granulated sugar
- ¼ cup organic lemon juice
- Mix berries, rhubarb and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Let sit for at least 15 minutes (up to overnight), periodically tossing to dissolve sugar.
- Place a small dish in the refrigerator to chill. (This will come in later).
- Bring fruit mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until liquid has mostly evaporated and fruit has begun to break down (40-50 minutes).
- The jam’s rapid, rolling boil will reduce into a slower, relaxed boil. At this stage, stir constantly to avoid burning and sticking.
- Once jam has reached a slow, thick boil, add lemon juice. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.
- Remember that dish you put in the fridge? To test consistency, spoon some jam onto the chilled plate and let it chill for approximately 2 minutes. Drag your finger through the jam: If it holds its shape and doesn’t appear watery or runny, it’s ready.
- Remove from heat.
How To Store Your Jam
If you aren’t planning to can your jam, it must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Most jams will last several weeks in the fridge and can be frozen for up to three months. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and cover them immediately. Note that jam expands as it freezes, so you will need to leave at least ¼-inch of room at the top of the jar before sealing.
If you’d prefer to store your jam in the pantry, it will need to be canned. Follow these steps (adapted from Martha Stewart) to start canning:
- 4- or 8-oz canning jars, lids and bands
- Large stockpot
- Canning rack
- Cooling rack
- Jar-lifting tongs
- Wide-mouth funnel
- Sterilize jars and lids:
- Place jars and lids in separate pots. Cover each with water and bring to a simmer.
- Fill sterilized jars one at a time:
- Use tongs to lift a jar out of the water, letting it drain.
- Ladle jam into jar using a wide-mouth funnel. Leave at least ½-inch of headspace.
- Slide a spatula between the jam and jar to release any trapped air bubbles.
- Place lid on jar. Screw band down evenly and firmly.
- Seal jars:
- Place filled jam jars into canning rack and lower into stockpot.
- Cover with water and let it heat to a rolling boil.
- Continue to boil for at least 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and remove lid. Let cool for another 5 minutes.
- Cool jars:
- Remove jars and set upright on cooling rack. Let cool for 12-24 hours.
- Check seal:
- Press on center of each lid. If it does not flex or lift, the seal is set.
- Label and store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Why Strawberry And Rhubarb?
It’s no secret that one of our favorite blends at Eminence Organics is strawberry and rhubarb. Here’s why we’re such fans of this winning combination:
Benefits of Strawberries
Scrumptious strawberries are packed with plenty of benefits. Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, these berries not only enhance the immune system but also play a key role in supporting skin health. Strawberries are high in Vitamin C and ellagic acid – both naturally-occurring wrinkle-busters – which support collagen production and minimize the visible signs of aging.
Benefits of Rhubarb
Used for centuries in traditional medicine, rhubarb is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to treat digestive issues. In fact, when our farm founder, Boldijarre Koronczay, was undergoing treatment for leukemia as a child, his mother would boil rhubarb in spring water, cinnamon and cloves to stimulate his appetite. Rhubarb is also a skin care superstar. We love it for its high antioxidant content, which helps it fight free radicals and the damaging effects of environmental stress.
What do you love about this organic ingredient duo? We’d love to hear your recipes and skin care tips. Share them with us below and join the conversation on social media!