Fabulous Low Sugar Strawberry Jam
Okay, I'm going to give you my recipe first- so you can make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before you get started...because theres nothing worse than getting started and having to stop and go to the store! Then I have outlined the entire process below with pictures so you can see HOW to can the jam :) Freezer jam is good and all, but if you have limited freezer space and you don't like your jam super sweet (freezer jam is like candy...but I don't want my kids eating candy for lunch ya know?) then this is the recipe for you! This is a combination of several other recipes, the instructions on the pectin jar and just me trying different things until I discovered what works best. I feel confident that its pretty perfect...however you may find you want to tweak something a bit -and that won't bother me at all ;) In fact if you DO discover something else that works- feel free to post about it below so others can learn from your successes!
10 cups strawberries (about 5 of the clamshells you buy at the store or about 5 lbs)
3 1/2 cups of sugar
8 Tbsp of low/no sugar needed pectin
4-5 pint jars, lids, and rings
A pot big enough to set your jars inside and have about an inch of water covering them
A jar lifter, and lid lifter are nice...tongs will work but these are cheap and work great!
you can also make 1/2 the recipe and it works just fine.
*caution* do not double the recipe or the jam won't set up. I don't know why (and honestly I have never tried it) but it says it all over the pectin bottles so I figure its good info.
Okay! Here we go :) Welcome to my crazy adventures in Strawberry Jam!
You start with berries! You don't need this many obviously...but we got them for 25cents a lb so I got as many as I could carry! You can find good deals at your local farmers market, or just watch the grocery store ads. Here in AZ the cheapest they have been this year is 1.27 a lb. If you live in a more moderate climate you can probably find a pick-your-own place or a co-op and save some bucks too. I buy my strawberries at a discount produce place so I have to use them within about 24 hours of buying them or they go bad! Look for berries that are pinky red- not orangey- you can still use orangey berries, but you will probably need to add more sugar.
First you will need to wash and cap the berries. I try to be all economical and cut as little off as possible- but my husband capped these for me (yes you heard me right...and I didn't even have to ask him, he just DID it!!!) and he just used a knife to slice the top off...I think I've decided I like his way better because its so much faster! Seriously, is my time worth 1/2 ounce more strawberry in the end? NO!
Its probably a good idea to sterilize your jars at this point. You can just load them into the dishwasher on a hot wash, or you can do them a few at a time by placing them in a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes. I usually do them all at once and then they are ready to go when my jam gets done.
Here's the berries all capped and put neatly back in their containers for easy washing :)
Dump it all together into a big pot and put it on your stove and turn the burner on a medium high heat. Heres where I kind of differ from other recipes. I like to get the strawberries hot BEFORE adding the pectin- Jam sticks ferociously to the bottom of the pan and it burns very quickly! Literally in seconds. Its the pectin that sticks the worst so I don't want it in the berries any sooner than necessary.
See that beautiful bubbling frothy mixture :) Thats what you want!
I wish I had taken a picture of this...but I missed it somehow. Anyways you are going to get a glass of ice water and put a spoon in it. Then you dip the cold spoon into the jam- and dunk it in the ice water. If it gels up on your spoon then its good! If it stays runny, you may need more pectin (but if you follow my recipe you should be fine). I just tip my spoon upside down, and if it stays then I know I am good and I eat the jam right off the spoon. Just Desserts...
Okay its all ready now! I've got my jam all ready to go in and my water is bubbling nicely!