Yes, I am jumping on the strawberry jam bandwagon, canning my own collection. Sean at Hedonia had an interesting looking recipe for Strawberry Jam with balsamic and black pepper. Carol at Simply Gluten Free has a nice recipe for Strawberry Jam, Granulated Sugar Free. And Nicole at Pinch My Salt has a Strawberry Freezer Jam that looks easy. With this sort of inspiration, I had to get in the kitchen and make some myself.
I had picked up a flat of strawberries on Friday from Two Small Farms and was looking for a recipe to maximize their strong and beautiful strawberry flavor, without a ton of sugar. Originally, I wanted to know if I could make jam with Stevia, using Sure-Jell Low-Sugar Pectin. The results were not that awesome – the color of the jam was nice, but the pectin added an unnatural gelatin consistency that I did not love.
Searching through the blog world, I found an interesting recipe at Foods for Long Life for Organic low-sugar Strawberry Jam, using a new pectin, and another at Food In Jars for Strawberry Jam with vanilla, which called for macerating the fruit with sugar and vanilla bean overnight. I decided to see if I could combine the two and get a decent result. Pleased to report, I did!
Dr. Joanne at Foods for Life introduced me to Pomona’s Universal Pectin, a product that relies on calcium to do the jelling of the jam, rather than loads of sugar. Pomona’s provides recipes for low-sugar jam, using almost any kind of sweetener, including granulated sugar, honey and non-sugar alternatives, as well as 100% fruit spreads. Each box makes several batches of jam, also making it a good value. I found it at Whole Food’s, and I see you can also find it on Amazon.
The strawberry jam I made ended up with tasty vanilla flavor and the consistency of a fruit spread. The pectin is barely noticeable and the fruit flavor really shines through. And since it is not so cloyingly sweet, I am enjoying it a lot more on my morning toast.
- 10 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into large pieces
- 2 cups sugar, plus additional 1 cup for the jam making
- 1 vanilla bean, split long wise
In a lidded container, mix the strawberries and sugar. Bury the vanilla bean, put the lid on the container and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight.
The next day, remove the strawberries from the refrigerator. Remove the vanilla bean, and pour the strawberries into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times to chop the strawberries (but be careful not to puree, you want fruit bits). Pour into 8 cup measuring cup and ensure you have 8 cups of fruit. If not, add additional chopped strawberries.
Following the instructions from Pomona, make the calcium water by dissolving the smaller packet in the box with 1/2 cup water. I put this in an old jam jar to store in the fridge between jam making episodes.
Put the fruit into a large, heavy bottom pot. Add 4 teaspoons of the calcium water.
In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup sugar or room-temperature honey with 4 teaspoons pectin (from the second packet in the box). Mix well.
Bring fruit to a bowl over medium-high heat; add the sugar-pectin mixture and stir vigorously for 2 minutes until well combined. Return to the boil and remove from heat.
Pour into canning jars, leaving 1/4″ head space, and seal with lid and ring. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes, adding an extra 1 minute for every 1000 feet above sea level. [Editors note: I process for 10 minutes, the recommended time, and my jam separated. I am going to try 5 minutes of processing next time]