strawberries ellen ogden

Strawberry Jam – natural pectin | Makes 4 pints


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


  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

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