When it’s strawberry season, the counters fill with canning jars, sugar, and berries. My jam takes a little longer to cook because I rely on the natural pectin from the fruit, boosting it with pectin from lemon zest. The taste is distinctly more fruity, and the color deepens to a cranberry red. A candy thermometer will save you the guesswork of wondering if the jam has reached the jam stage.
2 quarts fresh picked strawberries
5 cups sugar
2 lemons, juiced and zested
- Trim the tops off the berries, putting the berries into a large bowl, and the tops into the compost. Rinse the berries under water, and transfer with your hands into a colander, leaving behind any residue from the garden. Slice berries in half and measure out 4 cups, transferring them into a deep 8 quart kettle.
- Pour the sugar over the berries, and with a potato masher, gently press the berries to release juices and combine with the sugar, leaving chunks and some smaller berries whole. Let the berries sit for two hours.
- Turn the heat on low at first, and then higher to bring the sugar and berries to a simmer, then a full boil. Stir with a wooden spoon, as the sugar and berries completely blend together. Keep stirring while cooking over a moderately high heat, while the berries bubble and reduce.
- After about 10 minutes of a roiling boil, check the temperature with a candy thermometer. It may hover just below the 220* (jelly stage) mark for a long time, so be patient, and keep stirring, and checking. Meanwhile, wash and hot water bath your jars, (or run them through a dishwasher) and place the lids in a bowl with boiling water to sterilize.
- When the jam finally hits the 220* mark, add the lemon zest, stir and bring to a boil again. Turn off the heat, fill the jars and secure lids. Flip over to seal the lids. Remember to finish the jars with label, listing ingredients and the date.