Between all the carb loading and turkey cooking saturating the internet these days, I thought it might be nice to have a little summer flashback to sunnier days. When the sun wasn’t already down by 5pm. When strawberries were still crazy sweet and bright red at the farm stand (I know you can still find strawberries in markets, but they aren’t the same… and I know that those in warmer climates can grow them in their backyards just about year round. You don’t count!). I want to show you what I did with some of the last strawberries from the farmers’ market.
The first time I made jam I tried a sweet cherry variety but was super bummed when it resulted in jars that were barely half fruit and mostly cherry-colored jelly. I was also surprised just how much sugar goes into standard jams and jellies (like, seven cups or more!). I figured for my first attempt at low sugar jam I would go with most folks’ first foray into canning: strawberry jam. I wanted a final product that tasted like fruit and not fruit flavored syrup.
This recipe is very straightforward and uses everything you should already have on hand assuming you have strawberries and SURE-JELL For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Premium Fruit Pectin. I’ve heard that there are other pectin brands that can be used to make low or no sugar jams so this certainly isn’t the only way to go. So, strawberries, water, pectin, a optional half tablespoon of butter and either 1/2 cup of sugar or Splenda (or 12 packets of Splenda). I opted for sugar since 1) I don’t have Splenda in my home 2) I don’t use Splenda or any other artificial sweeteners (anymore). Compared to EIGHT cups in a normal recipe, this is a significant difference in sugar!
These berries were so sweet and fragrant they filled our house with their scent. You need six cups of fruit for this recipe which is about three pint baskets of strawberries. While I haven’t tested it, it may be possible to use frozen strawberries that have been thawed in place of fresh.
Wash and slice the strawberries. I hate it when fruit tastes like a cutting board so I actually use a not-razor-sharp paring knife and cut without using the board but if you like to slice and dive on a surface, try a clean plate if you’ve recently cut garlic or onions on your board. Either way, no need to be perfect about your cutting here as the next step makes it unimportant.
Mash your strawberries using a potato masher but LEAVE CHUNKS. because it’s better that way. And try not to be too upset about mushing up a bunch of beautiful strawberries because, trust me, the jam is worth it and when it gets to be cold and gross outside it will be nice to crack open a jar of this strawberry goodness.
This is my stove setup including my beautiful new canning pot that has a rack (it’s off to the right on a white towel). The black pot that is gigantic is the canning pot, the other large pot is for cooking the jam and behind that is a smaller pot I use for the jar lids. Instead of boiling my already clean jars to sterilize them I put them on a clean kitchen towel on a baking sheet in the oven at 225-degrees for at least 30 minutes. It means I have dry jars that I find easier to handle and so far I’ve had no issues but use this method at your own risk.
The recipe in my pectin box called for dumping all ingredients into the saucepan at once– sugar, pectin, water, fruit– and then bringing to a boil, stirring constantly. Check the recipe on your pectin box to confirm.
Boil and bubble, toil and trouble. Bring the jam up to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. The butter can go in once boiling and will prevent some of the foaming once in the jar. After boiling for one minute, this goes into the jars, topped with the boiled lids and a band and then directly into onto the canning rack and into the boiling water in the canning pot.
I only spilled a little. The steps that aren’t pictured are taking that tray (where you can see the rings from the jars) out of the oven, flipping each jar, filling, adding the lid and ring and then into the boiling water. Red handled tongs for the lids since I don’t have a magnetic jar lifter but I did finally buy a spring handled jar thingy (about the red handled tongs) that makes thing so much easier.
Boil/process in a water bath for 10 minutes. When done, remove from the water bath. If you’ve properly sealed your jars you can stand them upright with no problems and they should seal, but in order to be better safe than sorry, I stand them upside-down until they have completely cooled so that I can ensure I have a good seal.
I’ve got to work on my filling amount– you’re supposed to leave a little room but I’m a little inconsistent. The half full jar was used a short while later and was completely awesome. I’m not sure I want to give any of these up they’re so good!
Here’s the recipe as it appears on the Kraft, maker of SURE JELL, website. The instructions that came with my pectin were slightly different so make sure to reference the instructions for your product. Also, the jam boiling process takes maybe 15 or so minutes so make sure your jars have been fully sterilized and are still hot when you are done boiling so the jars can immediately be filled.
Low Sugar Strawberry Jam from thismodernwife
3 cups strawberries (about 3 pints fully ripe strawberries)
3/4 cup water
1 box SURE-JELL For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Premium Fruit Pectin
1/2 cup sugar (OR Splenda or 12 Splenda packets)
1/2 Tablespoon of butter (optional)
1. Prepare your jars, lids, rings and get your canning pot half full of water boiling. Clean jars should sterilized by boiling or baked in the oven at 225-degrees on a towel lined baking sheet for 30 minutes.
2. Wash, de-stem, quarter and then mash the strawberries. Add them to a 6 or 8-quart saucepan with the water over high heat.
3. Gradually stir in the pectin and sugar (I added mine all at once and it still worked!). Add butter if using to prevent foaming. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil exactly 1 minute and then remove from heat.
4. Immediately ladle jam into hot jars (a wide-mouthed funnel is helpful here) within 1/8-inch of the top. Wipe the treads and rims then put on the warm lids and screw bands on tightly.
5. Place hot jars on canning rack and place in the boiling water canning pot making sure water covers the jars by 1 or 2-inches. Cover canning pot and bring to a gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes.
6. After processing remove jars and place upright (or upside-down to really make sure they have a good seal like I do, but this really isn’t necessary) on a towel to let cool. Once jars have completely cooled check the seals by pressing down on the lid. If the lid springs back, the jar has not sealed and should be refrigerated or frozen.
This recipe will only require four 8-ounce jars for most people but I am not the best at making sure my jars are full enough yet. Besides, it gives me an excuse to make a half jar that I can open to test shortly after making my preserves! Let me know if you’ve ever tried one of these low or no sugar recipes before or if you always go the classic route? After the success I had here I will probably be sticking to the low/no sugar pectin from now on! And think of all the possibilities with making updates to the strawberry jam– strawberry bail, strawberry vanilla, strawberry with lemon rind….