This quick and easy homemade Strawberry Refrigerator Jam is made with just three simple ingredients, has no added pectin, and only takes 30 minutes. This recipe makes a small batch of deliciously sweet jam that you store in the refrigerator or freezer, so no canning required!
Strawberry season will be here soon! Although we can buy strawberries all year long in the grocery store, I love getting super fresh strawberries from local farmers and farmers’ markets. I especially love going to farms where they let you pick your own!
Fresh-picked strawberries are so good that I usually end up getting way more than I can use in the short amount of time that they will last in the refrigerator, so I freeze a bunch to use in smoothies and other recipes, and then I make this jam. Some goes in the fridge, and some goes in the freezer so I can get a little taste of summer all year long!
Although I love to cook and have been cooking for a long time, I have to admit that one thing I have never done and still don’t have the courage to do is canning, so I was thrilled when I found out that I could make homemade jam without canning it.
Another awesome discovery was finding out that you don’t need to add any store-bought pectin when making this jam. Hey, if I can keep things as simple as possible and not add any unnecessary ingredients, I’m all for it!
WHAT IS PECTIN ANYWAY?
Without getting into the biology and chemistry (which I totally don’t understand and won’t pretend to) and using words I can’t (and don’t want to) spell, the short and simple answer is that it’s a starch that occurs naturally in fruits. When making jam, it’s used as a gelling/thickening agent.
Different fruits have different levels of natural pectin in them. Strawberries have a relatively low amount of pectin. By themselves, they don’t have enough to thicken the jam. That’s where lemon juice comes in. Lemons have a high amount of pectin, so the addition of lemon juice helps the jam thicken nicely and eliminates the need to add any store-bought pectin.
Sugar plays an important role too, so please don’t leave it out. You can adjust it a little if your berries are really sweet, but know that if you don’t have enough sugar, your jam won’t gel. When you heat the natural pectin in the strawberries and lemon juice with sugar, that’s when the magic happens and you get that nice gelatinous consistency. Sugar also acts as a natural preservative.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE STRAWBERRY REFRIGERATOR JAM:
- Lemon juice
HERE’S A QUICK LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY REFRIGERATOR JAM:
When cooking the jam, you really don’t want to walk away from it. You need to keep an eye on the heat and stir it occasionally to make sure that it’s not bubbling over or burning on the bottom of the pan. The whole process doesn’t take that long, so just hang around and babysit it.
Keep in mind that the jam will thicken a little more after it has cooled and has been refrigerated for 24 to 48 hours, so it’s done when it’s almost as thick as you would want the finished product to be.
The foam that forms on the top of the jam while cooking is just air bubbles. Removing it helps give your jam a clear appearance rather than it looking cloudy or having streaks. It’s hard to get every little bit off without removing some of the jam with it. Personally, I am not overly picky about how my jam looks – I just want it to taste good – so I remove as much foam as I can without sacrificing any of the super yummy jam!
- Can I use frozen strawberries? Sure. Although fresh strawberries are best, you can definitely use frozen strawberries. I would defrost them first.
- Can I use bottled lemon juice? Absolutely. I use it all the time with great results.
- Can I freeze it? Yes. Once it’s been in the refrigerator for 24 hours, put it in the freezer. Be sure to use freezer-safe jars or containers and make sure you leave a little room at the top to allow for expansion. Jam will last in the freezer for up to a year.
- Can I make a larger batch? Yes. You will just need to adjust the cooking time. It will take longer for the jam to thicken.
- Can I use other fruit? Yes. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches…lots of possibilities!
One of my favorite ways to eat this jam is on a thick slice of peanut butter bread. It’s like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but so much better!
Of course, I also like it on an old-school PB&J sandwich or slathered on toast, biscuits, English muffins, or croissants. Sometimes I stir it into oatmeal or yogurt or put it on ice cream. Ooh, and then there’s pancakes, waffles, and French toast. And cheesecake. What will you put it on?
I hope you try this recipe for Strawberry Refrigerator Jam and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!
Strawberry Refrigerator Jam
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
- Combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan (I use a 3-quart saucepan). Mash the strawberries a little (I use a potato masher to do this).
- Bring to a boil, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing the strawberries.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the heat to make sure the jam doesn’t bubble over or start to burn on the bottom of the pan. Keep in mind that the jam will thicken a little more once cooled, so it is ready when it’s almost as thick as you would want the finished product to be.
- Remove the pan from the heat and skim the foam off the top. This will help keep your jam clear rather than cloudy or streaky. Take off as much as you can without removing too much of the jam.
- Cool slightly and pour into jars. If you plan to freeze the jam, make sure to leave a little space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion. Allow the jam to cool at room temperature.
- Once cooled, refrigerate the jam for 24 hours. The jam will thicken a little more during this time. If you are freezing the jam, put it in the freezer after it has been in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Jam should last in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks and in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Recipe slightly adapted from Epicurious.