After our trip for U-Pick strawberries (read about that here), the kitchen was overflowing with small red fruit. Fortunately, I had already planned out a number of recipes in advance so that I could get cooking the very next day.
If you are kitchen wizard, feel free to scroll down to the printable recipe. For everyone else, follow along as I show every step to incredible jam that anyone can make.
First, let’s gather our ingredients:
(3) lbs of strawberries – a respectable amount unless you’re a freak for jam, or intend to gift a number of jars. If you don’t have exactly 3 lbs, no worries! This recipe is very adaptable and will make roughly 3 half-pint jars of jam when finished.
(1) tart apple – I used a Granny Smith, which is generally the most easily found at market. Both the ‘tart’ and ‘apple’ are absolutely necessary and can not be omitted. Tart apples are high in pectin, which is the gelling agent that makes jam, well, jammy! Berries are too low in pectin, so an apple must be added for thickness. (Of course you can use a packet of pectin from the store instead of an apple, but we are trying to stay all natural.)
(1) TBSP of lemon juice – fresh is always best, if possible. You can also use lime juice or 1/4 tsp of citric acid instead. As berries are also low in acid, we must add some to properly engage the pectin.
(1-2) cups *raw honey – Here you can be variable based on your preferred sweetness level. My batch wound up being just shy of 1.5 cups. I would suggest starting with 1 cup and adding more while its cooking to taste.
*A quick comment on honey: The term ‘honey’ as a trade term is very loosely protected, allowing a number of brands found in the supermarket to contain high fructose corn syrup or other cheap sweeteners. Look instead for terms such as ‘raw’, ‘unfiltered’, and ‘100% pure’. Even better is to find a local supplier who will often sell at farmer’s markets or your favorite organics/health stores. As a rule, if you can see through a jar of honey, it’s been highly processed and possibly contains alternative sweeteners.
Trim your berries of tops, any hard tips and icky spots. This is jam though, so you don’t have to be overly picky. Toss your berries into a pot and set over medium high heat (do not add water).
Working quickly, remove the core of your apple and put slices into either a food processor or a mini chopper. If you have more patience than appliances, you could also grate your apple. The key here is to shred the apple so that it breaks down in the pot, skin included, as that is the highest source of the fruit’s pectin.
Add your shredded apples, lemon juice and honey to the pot.
That looks tasty already! After another hour though, and it will be incredible.
Stir your ingredients, feeling free to smash some of your berries to release their juices. That will happen on its own, but you know its gratifying to get them started.
Watch your heat and turn it lower if you see too much boiling or steam. Scorched jam is nasty jam.
After about 10 minutes, you will have a nice soupy jam that can take the heat. No need for a vigorous boil at any point, but a few bubbles here are fine. Once you’re sure you have enough liquid extracted from the fruit, it’s time to use an immersion blender.
Now that looks like jam… almost. Everything is really well incorporated and smooth. As with any hot liquid, be very careful when blending as this will cause burns if flung by the blades. If you have small kitchen helpers, this would be the time to send them behind the blast shield (a.k.a the pantry door). If you do not own an immersion blender, turn your jam off, go to the store and purchase one. They are only $30.00 and make a world of difference for recipes such as this. You are the maker of delicious food, therefore, you deserve this tool.
-If- for some reason you can not go out and get an immersion blender, then a normal blender can be used. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the blending of hot foods, as some containers caution against blending over a certain temperature. Once blended, scrape back into your pot.
At this point, taste the mixture and add additional honey if the sweetness is not yet to your liking, but don’t go overboard. Over the next 45 minutes, the jam will reduce and concentrate all of those amazing flavors. Honey can be added right up until the end, but it can’t be removed.
Once the jam is to your preferred thickness, take the pot off the heat. Pour into sterilized jars if canning, otherwise the jam should stay in your fridge for a couple of weeks. -Let me rephrase that- the jam will stay at peak edibility for a couple of weeks, no guarantees that it will survive your household for more than a day.
Wondering what else you can use this jam with? Check out our: Old Fashioned Sour Cream Coffee Cake.