Less Sugar Homemade Strawberry Jam ~ Detailed instructions for how to make cooked strawberry jam that has less sugar but is loaded with strawberry flavour.
I have been making cooked jams for years. I love making different kinds for each type of fruit.
I was fortunate to spend my summers in the British Columbia Okanagan Valley area in Canada where all kinds of fruits grow. Every time a new fruit was ready I would make a new batch of jam.
Strawberries were ripe at the beginning of the season. The next type of fruit to be available were the cherries, then the apricots, and peaches and plums towards the end of the summer.
Not only were the jams easy and fun to make but they also were much more tasty than the store bought version. They even looked really pretty sitting on the pantry shelf and they made nice little gifts for different occasions.
The strawberries I bought the strawberries for this batch of less sugar strawberry jam at Costco and they were shipped in from California. They were in excellent condition and had the perfect ripeness for making this cooked jam.
Although making cooked jam is pretty easy to do there are some rules that need to be followed in order for the jam to turn out. One important rule is to follow the recipe exactly and not change it by adding or reducing ingredients or altering the cooking method and times. Otherwise you will not end up with a jam-like consistency.
There are different methods for making jam. I prefer to make a cooked jam and seal the jars in a canner using the boiled water method. I also like to make the jam using pectin crystals because you use less sugar and it takes less time to cook. I call this recipe Less Sugar Homemade Strawberry Jam because it uses a light version of pectin and less sugar. I really like fruit to sugar ratio in this recipe. You can really taste the strawberry with just the right amount of sweetness.
The recipe I am sharing with you is what I have been using for years. It is the one that comes with the package of Certo Light Pectin made by Kraft. What I am providing with you are detailed instructions to help make it easier for you to make your own Less Sugar Homemade Strawberry Jam.
Before we get started I do want to share some tips that I have learned over the years by making lots of different kinds of jam. You can learn from my mistakes and my successes….
Tips For Making Less Sugar Homemade Strawberry Jam From Time With Thea
Use ripe strawberries with no signs of mold. You don’t want to add any unwanted growth to the jam even though it will get cooked. I do add a few under ripe strawberries just to give a touch of a different flavor.
Assemble and organize all your ingredients, cooking saucepans, cooking utensils and items needed to can the filled jars in the canner before starting
Make sure your jars are sterilized. I only use jam jars washed in the dishwasher. I will put them in the dishwasher even though they look clean after they have come out of storage. Before preparing the strawberry jam I boil water in a kettle and fill each jar placed in the sink with boiling water up to the rim. This ensures the jar is sterilized and the hot water heats up each jar up before adding the boiled strawberry jam.
Follow the directions exactly. Do not add or reduce the sugar. Follow the instructions in order.
It is important to follow the cooking, stirring and canning times precisely. I always set the timer on my microwave or my Smartphone.
Always stay near the stove when the jam is cooking and stir frequently. This is an example where it is OK to watch a pot boil. The cooking time for making this jam is actually quite quick so you want to be ready for the next step when the jam starts boiling.
Use a heavy large saucepan to cook this less sugar homemade strawberry jam. I have one that I have used for years that used to be my mother-n-laws and was passed on to me. It is an old pot but is perfect for cooking jam because the cooked jam does not stick to the bottom and it does not burn. A heavier saucepan is also easier to clean. If you don’t have a heavy saucepan I suggest checking out the thrift stores. It does not have to have a lid or be pretty and you can just keep it for making jam. An older pressure cooker pot without the lid works well too.
After the jam is cooked and removed from the heat there is a five-minute stirring and skimming time. This step is essential to ensure the fruit does not end up floating to the top. I stretch my calves and do leg raises while stirring to help pass the time away.
I have always used the Bernardin Snap Lids (not sponsored) to seal the jars. It is just a habit. I have also had a lot of success with this brand over the years. But they do have to be prepped in hot water before using. This is easy to do. Just bring some water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove the boiled water from the heat and place the lids in the hot water for five minutes.
Did you know that there are different boiling times to seal the jars in a canner based on the altitude of where you live? If you live in an altitude that is from 1000 – 3000 feet your boiling time is five minutes. If your altitude is 3000 – 6000 feet your boiling time is ten minutes. I live in an altitude that is almost 4000 feet but I actually boil the water for fifteen minutes. I have had the lids seal 99% of the time.
These are some of my tips for you to help make sure your jam cooking experience is successful. When you check out the recipe ry not to be intimidated by the length. I provided you with detailed instructions so there is no guessing as to what to do next. The instructions are also written as if I am giving you a tutorial rather than typical cookbook recipe style.
Less Sugar Homemade Cooked Strawberry Jam
- 6 cups strawberries, finely chopped
- 4½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 box Certo Light Pectin Crystals
- Fill the canner with water about ⅓ full. Place lid on top and bring water to a boil on high heat. If the water is boiled before you finish making the jam turn down the heat to low and keep the lid on the canner.
- Fill a cleaned sink with water and add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water. Wash the strawberries in this solution. Remove the stems and finely chop the strawberries. Add the finely chopped strawberries to the heavy large saucepan. Crush with a potato masher kitchen utensil till they make a mushy consistency.
- In a small bowl stir the pectin crystals and ¼ cup of the granulated sugar together. Add this mixture to the crushed strawberries and stir.
- Bring this mixture to a boil over high heat.
- Stir the rest of the sugar into the boiled strawberry mixture. Return to a boil. Allow the strawberry mixture to boil for one minute. This is when I stay close to the stove and stir the mixture with a large metal spoon.
- When the one-minute time is up remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir and skim for 5 minutes to prevent floating strawberries. This is an important step.
- Empty the jars that have been sitting in the sink filled with the boiled water. Pour the cooked strawberry jam into warm sterilized jars to ¼ inch from the rim.
- Fill a small saucepan with water about ⅓ full and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Place the required number of lids to cover each of the filled jars in the boiled water for five minutes. I actually will boil the water in this saucepan while I am cooking the jam. When it is boiled I turn the burner off. Then when I want to bring the water to a boil it will not take as long.
- Before placing prepared lids on the filled jars ensure there is no jam residue on the rim. This is important because if there is the lid will not seal to the jar. I tend to take extra steps during this stage. Place your pointer finger under cold running water and run the wet finger around the rim of each jar. Next dry each rim with a small piece of paper towel and check to make sure there is no strawberry jam evident on the paper towel. Then just to be super sure, place your pointer finger one more time under cold running water and run around each rim. The rim should be clean and clear.
- Almost done. Now place the prepped lid on the center firmly with one finger. I am right-handed so I use my pointer finger on my left hand. With your pointer finger still on the lid, use your right hand to screw the ring firmly onto the jar. The ring does not need to be tightened. It is most important the lid seals onto the jar.
- If necessary, bring the water in the canner back to a light boil. Place jam jars into each section of the rack in the canner. Carefully lower the rack into the boiling water for 5-15 minutes depending on your altitude.
- Remove strawberry jam jars from boiled water and place on cooling rack. Let cool completely for 24 hours. This is the fun part because you should hear the lids go ‘pop’ when they are sealed.
- To ensure the lid is sealed to each jar tap each lid with a knife after the jars have cooled. The sound should be a low sounding thunk. If one of the jars has a higher pitched sound it is probably not sealed. If this happens, I remove the lid and make sure the rim is super clean. Then I return the jar to the boiling water with a new prepped lid and try again. But if you follow my tips and steps this should not happen. If the second try does not work store the jar in the fridge and use it up first.
So that is the recipe and instructions for how to make Less Sugar Homemade Strawberry Jam! A little bit of this jam goes a long way to add some strawberry flavour and goodness to some plain yogurt, cooked oatmeal, vanilla ice cream or spread over a piece of toast. So worth making!
Here is another very tasty preserve recipe that you might enjoy making too…
Since it is Spring and rhubarb will soon be ready you also might enjoy…
I have had a number of readers and followers comment that they can tell I was a teacher by my detailed instructions for tutorials on the blog. I guess it was only natural to have that skill show up in the blog since it was part of my teaching skills for many years. So appreciate you noticing. Thank you!