Strawberry Jam Throwdown! Classic vs. Added Pectin!

Okay, people, time to put those Ball&#174 jars and products to use! Why not make both a classic strawberry jam and one with added pectin? Then you can decide which you like best.

Strawberry Jam with Pectin

This basic jam recipe makes about 7.5 cups (7 8-oz jars).

A note about this recipe—it’s originally from the Ball Blue Book&#174, but every time I’ve made it, I’ve halved the recipe. I don’t like to put more than six jars in my canner at a time, so I cut the recipe in half, using a combination of 4-oz. and 8-oz. jars.

One more thing—in my world, “jams” and “preserves” are pretty much the same thing. Sorry if I’m not a purist.

What You Need

  • 7 8-oz jars, plus bands and lids
  • large pot, such as a saucepan, stockpot, or soup pot
  • canner that can hold at least 7 filled jars
  • jar lifter, jar magnet, funnel, chopstick or plastic knife, and headspace-measuring tool
  • jar rack or cake cooling rack that can fit inside the canner
  • large wooden spoon for stirring
  • something to crush the strawberries, like a potato masher
  • ladle

Ingredients

  • 8 cups strawberries, washed, drained, stemmed, and halved
  • 7 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 package powdered pectin (1.75 oz. or 49 g), such as Ball®; if halving this recipe, use a kitchen scale to weigh out 25 g of the pectin and save the rest for another batch of jam
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Making the Jam

  1. READ THE RECIPE
  2. Prepare your jars, lids, and bands (instructions can be found here)
  3. Crush the berries. You can place a bunch of them in a Ziploc bag, close it, and use a rolling pin (be careful that they don’t burst out of the bag!) Or you can just place them in a bowl and use a sturdy spoon or potato masher. They needn’t be completely crushed—some discrete chunks are desirable!
  4. Place strawberries, lemon juice, and pectin in large pot and bring to a boil. Be sure to stir the mixture every now and then.
  5. Add sugar all at once. Stir mixture until sugar is dissolved.
  6. Bring to a full, rolling boil. Once boiling, boil for 1 minute, stirring the whole time.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat. Skim foam if necessary.
  8. Using your ladle and the funnel, pour the hot mixture into the prepared jars one at a time. Be sure to leave 1/4 inch headspace. Insert chopstick and press against side in a couple of places; this is to dislodge any air pockets.
  9. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth. Even a small amount of jam mixture on the lid can lead to a seal failure.
  10. Place bands on jar and tighten until you feel some resistance. Do not overtighten—the bands are to keep the lids in place.
  11. Place jars in the canner, making sure that the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes (if at elevations higher than 1000 ft/305 meters, you will need to adjust the boiling time based on your elevation).
  12. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let jars rest in canner for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove jars to a clean towel on your counter.
  14. Test seals after 24 hours. You can test by pushing down on the lid—if it pops up and down, the seal is bad. You can also test seals by removing the bands and trying to lift the jar by the lid. Obviously, if the lid pops off, the seal has failed! If you so have a bad seal, just store your jam in the refrigerator; it will be safe to eat.

Classic Strawberry Jam (without added pectin)

This recipe, from Put ‘Em Up by Sherry Brooks Vinton (another good book for beginning canners) has much less sugar than the recipe with pectin. Again, this recipe can be halved. The full recipe makes 4 cups. Classic jam will take longer and will require you to monitor the mixture for gelling. Once the gel stage is reached, you can fill the sterilized jars and proceed with lidding and the boiling water bath.

What You’ll Need

  • 4 8-oz jars, plus bands and lids
  • large nonreactive pot, such as a saucepan, stockpot, or soup pot
  • canner that can hold at least 4 filled jars
  • jar lifter, jar magnet, funnel, chopstick or plastic knife, and headspace-measuring tool
  • jar rack or cake cooling rack that can fit inside the canner
  • large wooden spoon for stirring
  • ladle

Ingredients

  • 8 cups strawberries, washed, drained, stemmed, and halved
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice (for consistent acidity)

Making the Jam

  1. READ THE RECIPE
  2. Prepare your jars, lids, and bands (instructions can be found here)
  3. Place your berries in a bowl, add the sugar, cover, and allow the berries to macerate for 6 hours up to overnight. This will draw out the juices.
  4. Place strawberries in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Cook and continue to stir the mixture, crushing the berries with a wooden spoon.
  6. Cook until the jam reaches gel stage (I use the chilled plate test for this—it’s detailed at the end of this recipe); this can take 20-30 minutes or even more.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then skim off foam if necessary.
  8. Using your ladle and the funnel, pour the hot mixture into the prepared jars one at a time. Leave ¼ inch headspace. Insert chopstick and press against side in a couple of places; this is to dislodge any air pockets.
  9. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth. Even a small amount of jam mixture on the lid can lead to a seal failure.
  10. Place bands on jar and tighten until you feel some resistance. Do not overtighten—the bands are to keep the lids in place.
  11. Place jars in the canner, making sure that the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes (if at elevations higher than 1000 ft/305 meters, you will need to adjust the boiling time based on your elevation).
  12. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let jars rest in canner for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove jars to a clean towel on your counter.
  14. Test seals after 24 hours. You can test by pushing down on the lid—if it pops up and down, the seal is bad. You can also test seals by removing the bands and trying to lift the jar by the lid. Obviously, if the lid pops off, the seal has failed! If you so have a bad seal, just store your jam in the refrigerator; it will be safe to eat.

The Chilled Plate Gel Test

Before starting the recipe (even before sterilizing your equipment), place 2 or 3 small plates in your freezer. When your are ready to test for gel stage, place a small amount (1 teaspoon or even less) of your jam mixture onto a chilled plate. Let it cool. Then push the mound of jam with your finger. You have reached gel stage if the jam wrinkles when you push it.

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