Out here in California we get great organic strawberries. Watsonville is the capital of strawberry growing and our farmer’s market sells really ripe strawberries in flats. You can’t get really ripe strawberries at the supermarket because they would go bad too quickly. We bought a flat of organic strawberries(12 pints) for $20.00 today because I wanted to make strawberry jam. Last time I made it, we gave away a lot so we needed to replenish.
Most jam recipes I found on the web have an insane amount of sugar because the pectin used requires a lot of sugar. I decided to try Pomonas Universal Pectin, 1-Ounce Container (Pack of 6) (purchased at Amazon) which is activated by calcium (included in the box). I used the recipe that came with the packet.
I found that I sometimes get fruit float which is unattractive. Strawberries seem to be susceptible to float. I tried to minimize fruit float by macerating the strawberries in a portion of the sugar to get the cells to break down and release their juices. The Pomona Pectin instructions say you need to mix the pectin in with the sugar or sweetener also. This jam sets up relatively quickly and you don’t continue to boil it like other pectins. If you boil it for too long, it will lose its set. Also, I found that allowing the jam to cool slightly before filling the jars really helps with the float.
The vanilla beans in this recipe add an almost dessert like quality to it. I used 3 beans in my jam and found it was too much. I recommend 1-2 depending on the amount of vanilla sweetness you like (also, vanilla beans are expensive). You can cut down on the sugar further since the pectin isn’t activated by it. Just make sure you have some sugar to mix with the pectin when the strawberries come to a boil.
Recipe: Low Sugar Strawberry Vanilla Jam
- 12 cups of crushed strawberries
- 1-2 vanilla beans
- 3-4 cups of sugar
- 6 tsp of Pomona’s Universal Pectin
- 6 tsp of calcium water (made as directed on package)
- 7 pint glass canning jars
- 7 lids and screw rings
- We hulled at least 2/3 of the flat to get 12 cups of strawberries.
- Split vanilla beans in half, length-wise and scrape out vanilla seeds into strawberries. Leave the vanilla bean pods in as well.
- Add two cups of the sugar in with the strawberries, mix and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
- Crush the strawberries (I recommend the wire kind of masher over the one with holes in a base)
- Add calcium water to the crushed strawberries.
- Bring strawberries to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Boil glass canning jars for 10 minutes, keeping jars in the hot water as you prepare the jam. Or sterilize with some other method (I process mine in my Avent baby bottle sterilizer – 3 at a time)
- Heat the lids and screw rings in a separate pan (but not to a boil).
- Mix in pectin with sugar, blending it well. This ensures the pectin doesn’t clump in the jam.
- Add the pectin/sugar mixture to the strawberries and stir to dissolve, bringing the strawberries to a boil for 1-2 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Fill jar with jam. Wipe rim to ensure there is nothing to interfere with the seal.
- Put on lids and tighten rings fingertip tight. Repeat for all pint jars.
- Process for 10 minutes after bringing canning bath to boil.
- Turn off heat, remove pot lid and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars from water and let cool.