Strawberries are one of the few fruits we reserve for an annual U-pick farm trip. Why we haven’t grown them ourselves yet, I’m not sure! However, the trip to our local farms makes for a fun tradition. What’s more, the kids are getting better at actually getting some in the bucket each year.
Not only has the picking been a lot of fun, there was also one year that we won a photo contest at the strawberry farm. The prize for the winning photo? A free turkey from the same farm at Thanksgiving. Score!
(The turkey-winning photo. Who knew?)
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After my kids eat their fill of strawberries each year (about 19 lbs worth, I’ve decided), we go to town on preservation. One of our favorite strawberry treats to make is homemade jam!
If you’re a seasoned jam/jelly maker, you know that a successful gel generally requires fruit, sugar, and pectin. However, over the past few years, I’ve fallen out of love with pectin. It’s not that I don’t want my jam to gel up– rather, it’s that I don’t like the fact that pectin requires so much sugar to work properly. In fact, most jam made with pectin has more sugar than fruit in it!
I began reading recipes & experimenting with homemade jam that required no pectin and very little sugar. I found a couple of ways to preserve the fruit without the conventional methods. These are:
- Including a fruit with naturally-occurring pectin
- Making smaller batches at one time
- Simmering the mixture longer
In this case, I made use of green apple and lemon to add pectin to my jam, and only a little honey to naturally sweeten and preserve it.
A couple of things to know about no-pectin jam/jelly/preserves:
- You will get FAR less jam out of a batch. This is because you are using only fruit, and you have not doubled the volume in sugar. It can be disheartening to see only one pint of jam after all of your work. However, I console myself with the fact we are consuming mostly fruit, and not just white stuff in disguise.
- You must cook it in smaller batches. Otherwise, it will take forever to simmer down properly.
- It will not have the same spreadable jello texture that you’re used to finding in a jar. The liquid will be somewhat runnier. Accept it. It will still be delicious. 🙂
- 4 cups strawberries, greens removed
- 1/2 cup honey
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 small green apple, grated
- Put strawberries in a wide-bottom pot. Smash them up a bit if you like.
- Add honey, lemon, and green apple.
- Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 40-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced and thickened.
- Ladle into jars & refrigerate or freeze. (Be sure to leave about 1/2″ head space if you do the latter.)
I don’t generally can this recipe, because I just don’t like to pull out my canner for only a pint. However, if you want to make a bigger batch, I’d recommend doubling or tripling the recipe, but simmering it in separate pots so that the liquid will reduce. Process in half-pint jelly jars with 1/4″ head space for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
New to water bath canning? Click here for a water bath canning 101 lesson & a free printable guide!
Want to try another no-pectin recipe? Try apple-honey jelly made from only peels & cores.