Small Batch Strawberry Jam

This small batch strawberry jam is an easy refrigerator jam made without pectin. It takes the complicated and messy work of canning out of preserving summer’s best flavors. Just fresh berries, sugar, and lemon juice are all you need to put up a jar or two of sweet berry jam.

Two pieces of buttered toast, one with strawberry jam, on a white plate with a spoon and jar of jam in the background.

Adapted from Cynthia Graubart | Strawberry Love | Storey Publishing, 2021

Bright summer berries are a gift from nature made into a jam for morning toast, swirled or spooned into meringues, or used atop ice cream. Prepared without the fuss of traditional canning, this jam should be stored in the refrigerator and enjoyed within 3 or 4 weeks.–Cynthia Graubart

Small Batch Strawberry Jam FAQs

Will my jam set without pectin?

You’ll find, with a no-pectin jam like this, your jam is going to set with a softer texture. At the same time, you’re able to use a lot less sugar in a recipe without pectin and it won’t affect the setting process. The addition of lemon juice helps the jam to firm up a bit; cooking down the fruit and sugar mixture helps with this, too. The beauty of a recipe like this one is that, if you do find your jam is a little loosey-goosey after spending some time in the fridge, you can always cook it down a little further.

How can I tell when my jam is done cooking?

If you have a probe thermometer, check the temperature frequently and once the jam reaches 220°F (104°C), it is ready.

Alternatively, you can use the freezer method. Place a couple of small plates in the freezer while you are making the jam. Once you get to the end of step 2 and a line of separation is visible on the bottom of the pot when you drag a spoon through the jam, remove the jam from the heat, grab a plate out of the freezer and plop a dollop of jam on it. Place it back in the freezer for 2 minutes. If it has formed a skin and wrinkles when prodded, it’s ready. If it’s still liquidy, return the jam to the heat and cook for a few minutes more, then test again.

Small Batch Strawberry Jam

Two pieces of buttered toast, one with strawberry jam, on a white plate with a spoon and jar of jam in the background.
The arrival of fresh strawberries signals the start of summer, the time to visit pick-your-own farms and farmers’ markets to stock up on plump, ripe berries. This recipe makes an unfussy version in a smaller size—faster and easier than traditional canning.
Cynthia Graubart

Prep 10 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 40 mins
Condiments
American
12 servings | Makes 1 1/2 cups
89 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries hulled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions
 

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook until the berries are bubbling and have begun to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and continue cooking at a simmer until the berries are soft and a spoon leaves a line of separation in the jam when scraping the bottom of the pan, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Pour jam into clean glass jars or freezer-safe containers and let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks or freeze for longer storage.
Print RecipeBuy the Strawberry Love cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoonsCalories: 89kcal (4%)Carbohydrates: 23g (8%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 1g (2%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 119mg (3%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 20g (22%)Vitamin A: 9IUVitamin C: 45mg (55%)Calcium: 12mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Originally published July 03, 2021

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re very lucky to have access to some of the best berries. Strawberries are hitting the markets, and the Hoods are everyone’s favorites. They’re on the small side, and very sweet, and their season is only a few weeks long. My local market sells out of them as quickly as they get them. Hoods are also incredibly delicate, and it’s best to use them as soon as you get them home. (Albion strawberries are also showing up in the stores and farmers’ markets right now. These berries are sturdier, are available longer, and are also pretty tasty).

Turning these delectable morsels into a sweet jam is a great way to celebrate Spring. I topped a cheesecake with a few spoonfuls of this small batch strawberry jam last night, had some on my morning toast today, and am thinking of swirling some into vanilla ice cream. My batch turned out a little thin initially, which was fine for the cheesecake, and an overnight stay in the refrigerator thickened it up a bit.

This is a nice recipe for small batch strawberry jam to have on hand during strawberry season, especially good to use if you have a lot of berries and you’re worried about using them all at their prime. The proportions are really practical because during strawberry picking season I often have about this amount of strawberries left after eating most of them fresh.

It also called for the right amount of sugar for ripe berries—the jam wasn’t overly sweet and retained the rich, ripe berry flavor. It is very quick and super easy to make, and I felt a lot of satisfaction putting the last of the ripe berries to good use.

This easy small batch jam is very versatile. I use it on toast in the morning, and I’m also using it as an appetizer on a cracker with soft, ripe, goat cheese, this strawberry jam, and chopped basil.

One of my favorite ways to use this is on vanilla ice cream—a dollop of the cooked jam and a few chopped fresh strawberries for contrast. Add a splash of amaretto (and sometimes I include a crumbled amaretti cookie) and you have a wonderful summer dessert that I serve often.

I was interested in making a small batch jam because I generally make jam during peach season (August through September here depending on the peaches and the weather, but peaches are available starting in July). I usually make a small batch of raspberry jam and add it to one or more of my batches of peach jam. I’ve also been playing with lower sugar levels and quick-making jam.

The longest part of making this recipe is cleaning, hulling, and slicing the strawberries. Making this small batch strawberry jam was straightforward. One thing to note is the warm jam seemed sweeter in the pan than it actually ended up being when it cooled.

The preparation of jams can be time-consuming and laborious, as the intention is to take advantage of seasonal fruits in their best state of maturity and keep a sufficient quantity in the pantry until the next season. For conservation to work, we must add enough sugar to preserve the quality of the fruit to the maximum, so the jams usually have a strong sweet taste. But this recipe for homemade strawberry jam has the advantage of using less sugar and therefore the strawberry flavor is more accentuated, with an adequate sweetness, which I really appreciated. It’s quick to prepare and has a good consistency, even after being in the refrigerator. Ideal for when we need a strawberry jam just for a dessert or a special meal.

Small batch strawberry jam sure is a sweet way to extend the strawberry season. This recipe is simple and quick, and a joy to so many of the senses! I was drawn to the recipe knowing how delicious homemade jam can be with the added bonus of not having to go through the canning process. The sweet aroma filled the kitchen making my mouth water. I’m glad I chose to use a fairly large saucepan since the strawberries frothed up considerably as they boiled. Because the jam is fairly sweet, I first layered it with plain Greek yogurt and some pistachios for a tasty mid-week breakfast. Once the weekend arrived, the jam was layered onto French toast with ricotta and lemon zest.

This small batch strawberry jam is easy, easy, easy to pull together and I love that I can make this the night before guests come over and have fresh jam for breakfast and desserts.

I used organic strawberries and measured 907g (before hulling). I don’t know why but I ended up with a lot of juice in the pan. It cooked fine, but at the recipe temp (low) Step 2 took 57 mins to get a line of separation. Slow and steady worked out okay though – the jam turned out a beautiful ruby red, was sweet but not too sweet, and thickened nicely. I chopped my berries roughly and everyone loved the result. Big pieces of berry in the jam. Yum!

I will make this again and cook the berries on medium low to see what happens. While this took longer than expected, the end result was great. Everyone loved it and commented “not too sweet” and “really tastes like strawberries!” We enjoyed it on toast, with yogurt, and with cheese.

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