Strawberry Jam and Pomona Universal Pectin (recipe)

Strawberries
Strawberries

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.

Strawberry Jam

  • 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]

Strawberry jam on toast
Strawberry jam on toast

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5 Comments

  1. megan
    Posted June 27, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this good recipe! I just spent the afternoon making a couple of batches. One note–I bet that your jam didn’t separate from being processed for too long, but rather because there wasn’t enough pulp to make the jam uniform. You can just blend it up more (reserving chunks on the side if you like) to prevent it, or you can just stir it up once you open the jar.
    Have a great summer!

  2. Kitchen Gadget Girl
    Twitter: kitchengirl
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    You can see how the separation is looking, and after a couple weeks in the garage, some jars are much more pronounced, and it is almost like the fruit at the top has not been made into jam, it is very separated. When you say blend it more, does that mean puree, until the chunks are gone? And then would I add chunks back in?

    I did not realize the perfect strawberry jam could be so elusive!

  3. jerilee
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    The separation is just the pulp and juice separating. I’m not sure why it happens, but it can happen in a lot of different fruit jams. There is nothing wrong with it. Like Megan said, when you go to eat the jam just give it a stir before you use it to mix it up. Jam is supposed to have chunks. That’s what makes it not a jelly.

  4. jerilee
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Oh, it separates before it has a chance to cool and thicken because the pulp is lighter than the juice.

  5. megan
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I meant reserve some chunks, blend (puree) the rest, then add the chunks back in. That way the flesh of the berries is making it into the jam rather than just the juice–which is what happens when it’s all chunks. This way the texture is really satisfying and you get a big hunk of berry now and then. But, I really like chunky strawberry jam, a lot, so I just let it separate and stir it together when I open the jar. It works great that way, and I find the clear-ish red part on the bottom lovely to look at :)

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