Learn how to make homemade strawberry jam with pectin! It’s a sweet, chunky jam – the perfect condiment to slather on toast, scones, cake, and everything in between. And once you see how easy this strawberry jam recipe is, you’ll never buy it from the store again!
Homemade strawberry preserves with pectin
Making homemade strawberry jam bursting with fruity, sweet flavor is one of my favorite things to do once strawberry season rolls around.
With just a few simple ingredients, you can enjoy a delicious strawberry preserve all year long. It’s so good spread on warm toast, buttery croissants, and cake filling.
I always make several more batches to give some to family and friends because a jar of this easy strawberry jam recipe makes a great gift!
But why use pectin in strawberry jam? Pectin is a starch that makes jams and jellies set up. It occurs naturally in some fruits, however, strawberries are low in pectin.
This is why cooking strawberry jam with pectin ensures a nice and thick texture. Plus, it allows you to cut back on the sugar and let the fruity flavor of the strawberries shine.
My strawberry jam recipe with pectin contains just 4 ingredients: strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and pectin. Please refer to the recipe card below for exact measurements.
- Fresh strawberries: It’s best to use fresh, sun-ripened strawberries that are sweet and juicy. Look for strawberries that are fragrant, red, and shiny, but throw out any berries that are mushy or show signs of spoilage (like mold).
- Granulated sugar not only sweetens the jam, but also helps thicken it and extend its shelf life, maintaining the vibrant color and inhibiting bacterial growth.
- Fresh lemon juice helps to enhance the strawberry flavor, balance the sweetness, assist jelling, and prevent microorganisms from growing.
- Pectin is a plant-based thickening agent and helps our strawberry jam set. It works with the sugar to gel the jam, so it becomes spreadable rather than runny. We’ll talk about this more in a moment.
- Butter: A small amount of butter helps reduce the foam that gathers on top as you cook the jam, so the strawberry jam has a pretty clear color.
Can I use frozen strawberries?
Yes, you can make strawberry jam with frozen strawberries. You need to thaw them first and then proceed with the recipe as written. Just note that frozen fruit won’t produce as strong a flavor as fresh ones.
What is the best pectin for strawberry jam?
I like to use Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin. I’ve been using this product for many years, and it never fails me. You can pick up a box at Walmart or order it on Amazon.
You can find more information about making strawberry jam with pectin further down in the post.
Is this a no sugar strawberry jam?
Although my recipe uses less sugar than other strawberry jam recipes, it still has some sugar. We definitely like our jams and jellies sweet, but not so coilingly sweet that you can’t taste the actual fruit.
- Paring knife and cutting board
- five to six 8 oz mason jars
- Large pot and cooking spoon
- Canning funnel
- Canning lids (only if you are reusing jars)
- Water bath canner
- Canning jar lifter
When I first started making jam, I purchased a canning kit, which helped me so much. It has all the handy tools you need and saved me a lot of money compared to buying them individually.
How to make strawberry jam with pectin
It takes less than an hour of active prep time to whip up a jar of strawberry jam. Here are the simple steps to making the best strawberry jam you have ever tasted!
#1: Clean the berries
- Wash the strawberries in a colander and gently dab them dry with a kitchen towel.
#2: Hull & cut strawberries
- To hull the strawberries, cut off the top leaves with a paring knife. Remove any soft or brown spots.
- Depending on their size, cut larger berries in halves or quarters.
#3: Let the berries sit
- Place the strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice into a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Stir to combine.
- Cover with a lid and put in the fridge for 3 hours (or overnight). This helps to soften the berries, dissolve the sugar, and boost the flavor of the fruits.
#4: Sterilize the jars
- Wash the jars, rings, and lids in soapy water and rinse well.
- To dry, lay the jars and lids on a baking tray and sterilize them in the oven at 200°F / 100°C for 10 minutes.
#5: Cook the jam
- Cook the fruit sugar mixture over medium-high heat, constantly stirring. Continue stirring and bring the jam to a vigorous boil that can’t be stirred down.
- Once the jam starts bubbling, boil hard for 1 minute (or according to the manufacturer’s instructions for the pectin).
- Tip: Wear oven mitts to protect your hand from hot steam and splatter burns.
#6: Add butter
- Remove the jam from the heat and stir in the butter. This helps to dissolve the foam and to enhance the flavor. Skim and discard any excess foam with a spoon.
#7: Jar the jam
- After taking the jam off the heat, let it sit for 10 minutes to distribute the fruits in the jars evenly.
- Using a jam funnel, ladle the jam into the sterilized jars, filling 0.5 inch / 1 cm below the rim.
- Clean the rim with a wet paper towel and screw on the lid.
It is so simple to make this easy strawberry jam with pectin. You will reap the rewards of the prep time for months and months! Here are a few extra tips and tricks to use when making this fruity-sweet jam!
- Measure the pectin properly: Pectin needs the right balance of liquid, sugar, and acid to set. The jam’s consistency will be affected if you over- or under-measure. I recommend double-checking your measurements.
- Stick to the recipe amounts: I know it may be tempting to double the recipe, but larger amounts can lead to the jam not setting correctly. What happens is that the jam doesn’t reach the right temperature and some of the pectin is undercooked.
- Avoid under- or overcooking: Too little heat doesn’t activate the pectin, while too much heat will break it down – both are reasons why jam doesn’t set. You need to bring the jam to a full boil (that is a boil that can’t be stirred down) and then continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Let the jam fully cool: Don’t be alarmed if your strawberry jam doesn’t set immediately. Jam with pectin needs to fully cool before it jells. Give it at least 24 hours to set.
Canning strawberry jam
Process the jam
To minimize the risk of bacteria, sterilize the canned jam by processing the jars in a boiling water bath.
If you are new to water bath canning, check out this tutorial from Healthy Canning for a step-by-step guide.
After the jars have cooled for several hours, label them and make a note on the label indicating when the jam was prepared.
Only work with clean, sterilized tools
All equipment needed to cook jam must be clean, including jars, cooking spoons and ladle, towels, and your hands. You can sterilize the tools with hot water or in a dishwasher turned to the hottest setting.
Don’t over-process your strawberry jam
If your jam was starting to set before you put it in the water bath but isn’t setting after, you might be over-processing.
Make sure the water in your canner is fully boiling when you add the jars. And remember, pectin can break down if exposed to too much heat, causing your jam to not set.
Processing times for water bath canning vary by altitude. Here is what you need to know:
- 0 to 1,000 ft: 10 minutes
- 1,001 to 3000 ft: 15 minutes
- 3,001 to 6,000 ft: 20 minutes
- 6,001 to 8,000 ft: 20 minutes
- 8,001 to 10,000 ft: 25 minutes
Why is strawberry jam processed anyway?
Pre-sterilizing the jars and processing jams in boiling water considerably extends their shelf life and minimizes the risk of mold spoilage and bacteria.
The fruity-sweet taste of strawberries is a good starting point to create interesting flavor combinations. These variations are prepared in the exact same way as shown before.
- Vanilla: Add the scrapes of 2 fresh vanilla beans or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste.
- Rosewater: Create the jam with 6 tablespoons of rosewater.
- Strawberry rhubarb: Prepare the jam with 1 1/2 lb strawberries and 1/2 lb rhubarb. You can increase the sugar to 2 cups for a sweeter taste.
- Mixed berry: Cook the jam with half strawberries and half raspberries or blueberries.
Enjoy this jam with scones and clotted cream, use it as a filling for cakes and sponge rolls, or stir a spoonful into yogurt and fresh fruit salad. Because of its long shelf life, homemade strawberry jam is also a great make-ahead gift.
Storage and shelf life
How to store strawberry jam
Store the processed jam in a dark, cool place, such as your pantry or a cupboard. Jam that has been processed in a water bath can be kept at room temperature.
Make sure your strawberry jam isn’t exposed to direct sunlight or near a heat source. Sunlight and heat can alter the color and texture of the jam.
How long will homemade strawberry jam last?
If your jars are thoroughly sterilized and you follow the canning instructions properly, this homemade strawberry jam with pectin will be shelf stable for at least a year. The jam will last longer, but the color will darken after a year and the taste won’t be as fresh.
Once you open a jar, keep it in the fridge and consume within 1 month. Discard the jam if you see mold or any signs of spoilage.
Can you freeze strawberry jam with pectin?
Yes! Freezing is a great way to store jam for personal consumption. If you have freezer space, you can keep your jam in the freezer without bothering with the canning process.
Simply fill your jars with hot jam, screw on the lids, let cool to room temperature, and then freeze for up to a year. To thaw, pop a jar of frozen jam in the refrigerator overnight and consume within 2 to 3 weeks.
- 2 lb / 900 g / 32 oz fresh strawberries
- 2 cups / 400 g / 14 oz granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 1/2 tbsp low or no-sugar-needed powdered pectin (see Note below)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Prep the strawberries. Wash the strawberries in a colander and gently dab them dry with a kitchen towel. To hull the strawberries, cut off the top leaves with a paring knife. Remove any soft or brown spots. Depending on their size, cut larger berries in halves or quarters.
- Let the berries sit. Place the strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice into a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Stir to combine. Cover with a lid and put in the fridge for 3 hours (or overnight). This helps to soften the berries, dissolve the sugar, and boost the flavor of the fruits.
Shortcut: If you prefer to cook the jam right away, add the strawberries and lemon juice to a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until the berries start to break down. Then add the sugar and pectin and continue as described in the following steps.
- Sterilize the jars. Wash the jars, rings, and lids in soapy water and rinse well. To dry, lay the jars and lids on a baking tray and sterilize them in the oven at 200°F / 100°C for 10 minutes.
- Cook the jam. Cook the fruit sugar mixture over medium-high heat, constantly stirring. Continue stirring and bring the jam to a vigorous boil that can't be stirred down. Once the jam starts bubbling, boil hard for 1 minute (or according to the manufacturer's instructions for the pectin).
Tip: Wear oven mitts to protect your hand from hot steam and splatter burns.
- Add butter. Remove the jam from the heat and stir in the butter. This helps to dissolve the foam and to enhance the flavor. Skim and discard any excess foam with a spoon.
- Jar the jam. After taking the jam off the heat, let it sit for 10 minutes to distribute the fruits in the jars evenly. Using a jam funnel, ladle the jam into the sterilized jars, filling 0.5 inch / 1 cm below the rim. Clean the rim with a wet paper towel and screw on the lid.
- Process the jam. To minimize the risk of bacteria, sterilize the canned jam by processing the jars in a boiling water bath.
- Label the jars. After the jars have cooled for several hours, label them and make a note on the label indicating when the jam was prepared.
I like to use Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin. I’ve been using this product for many years and it never fails me. You can pick up a box at Walmart or order it on Amazon.
How much pectin to use
You can adjust the amount of pectin according to your preferred texture:
- 2 1/2 tbsp for a soft, syrupy jam
- 3 1/3 tbsp for a medium-firm texture
- 4 1/2 tbsp for a very firm consistency
Nutrition Information:Yield: 100 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 21Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g
All about pectin
Before signing off, I want to chat more about pectin and answer a few questions about making strawberry jam with pectin.
What is pectin?
Pectin is a naturally occurring fiber that is present in varying degrees in fruits and vegetables. It’s a type of starch called polysaccharides and appears in the cell walls of fruits and veggies to give them structure.
Some fruits, such as apples, quinces, and citrus fruits, are very high in pectin. Other fruits, like strawberries, blueberries, and peaches, have low pectin content.
Commercial pectin is usually produced from citrus rinds. It’s available in liquid form and as dry powder.
What does pectin do to jam?
Pectin binds liquids and is used in cooking and baking as a thickener. It’s an essential ingredient in jam, jellies, and marmalade because these preserves won’t gel without pectin.
As mentioned, strawberries have very little pectin. For strawberry jam without pectin, you need to add a lot of sugar and cook it for a long time to get it set properly.
Benefits of making strawberry jam with pectin
Opinions are divided on making jam with pectin and you’ll find many excellent recipes for strawberry jam without pectin, and I have absolutely nothing against them.
However, I believe there are some benefits of making strawberry jam with pectin:
- Less sugar: Adding pectin to your strawberry jam allows you to cut back on the sugar. The fruit-to-sugar ratio in my recipes is 2 parts fruit to 1 part sugar. As a result, my jam is bursting with berry flavor and not cloyingly sweet. In recipes without pectin, that ratio is often 1 part strawberry to 1 part sugar, sometimes even 1:1.5.
- Short cooking time: Pectin speeds up the cooking time, which helps to maintain the natural strawberry aroma and color. Plus, you won’t have to stand as long over a steaming pot of bubbling jam.
- Proper gelling: Have you experienced a jam or jelly not setting? Then you know how frustrating it feels to put all that work in only to have it turn out runny. Pectin ensures that your strawberry jam sets up properly and has a lovely, spreadable consistency.
What does pectin taste like?
Pectin doesn’t add any flavor to the jam. Depending on the brand, it might contribute a slight bitterness, but usually, it’s not noticeable. The pectin from the Ball brand has no aftertaste.
Where can I buy pectin?
You can order pectin online. It’s available on Amazon and through jam-making supplies stores. You can also find it in supermarkets like Walmart, Target, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Costco, Aldi, and many more.
It’s usually stocked in the canning aisle (next to canning jars), the baking aisle (often alongside sugar), the condiment aisle (near jam and jellies), or sometimes the supplement section.
For more information, check out this shopping guide on where to buy pectin from Food Champs.
Reasons to love pectin strawberry jam
- Incredible taste: Homemade strawberry jam tastes infinitely better than store-bought. It’s free of artificial flavoring, preservatives, and other unwelcome additives that may be found in commercially produced jam.
- Preserve fresh fruit: Making strawberry jam is a great way to preserve and enjoy sun-ripened strawberries throughout the rest of the year – if it lasts that long.
- Versatile to use: There are so many options to enjoy pectin strawberry jam. You can spread it over toast, stir it into yogurt, serve it with scones and cream, pour it into mini tarts, fill cakes, and drizzle it over ice cream.
- Perfect for gift giving: Everyone loves homemade jam. Fill it into pretty glass jars with a cute label, and you have a lovely food gift.
Other strawberry recipes
We LOVE fresh strawberries at our house! We can’t get enough of them when it is strawberry season. Here are some more delicious strawberry recipes you need to try this summer.
- Strawberry Cheesecake
- Strawberry Banana Pudding
- Banana Strawberry Cheesecake Salad
- Bisquick Strawberry Cobbler
- Strawberry Shortcake Parfait
- Strawberry Spoon Cake
- Chewy Strawberry Blondies
More jam recipes
If you’re a little canning-obsessed like me, here are a few more jam recipes that I know you’ll love. They are perfect to preserve and enjoy summer’s bounty all year long!