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EASY STRAWBERRY JAM (Without Pectin + Tips)

This homemade strawberry jam is made with only 3 ingredients! Learn how to make this delicious jam from scratch, without using a thermometer. It really is easier than you think!

strawberry jamHomemade strawberry jam is one of my favorite things to make this time of year! I never buy store-bought jam because it just cannot compete with homemade! And I’m not just talking about the intense flavor, but also the fact that there are only 3 ingredients in it and NO pectin! Also, many store-bought jams and marmalades have artificial preservatives and even dyes! 😱  Of course, you could just buy organic ones, but I find most of them way too expensive.

What is pectin?

Pectin is a substance that is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. It is used for thickening jams and marmalades.

Why I avoid using commercial pectin

There are 2 main reasons.

First, commercial pectin is often genetically modified.

Second, you need a lot of sugar when using pectin. Pectin is bitter, so in order for jams to set you need more sugar to compensate, sometimes up to 80%  more! In the end, your jam has more sugar than fruit!

So, I avoid all that and I’ve NEVER had a problem with my jams or marmalades!

The Benefits of Making Homemade Strawberry Jam

1 – 100% control over the quality & taste

When strawberries are in season, I go to the farmer’s market and pick the freshest ones possible. Fresh strawberries offer more flavor and they have a beautiful vibrant color. I can also control how sweet I want my jam to be. This gives me complete control over the quality and flavor of my homemade jam – something I never have with store-bought jam. The flavor of homemade jam is simply unbeatable when compared to commercial jams!

2 – It’s healthier

Homemade jam is definitely much healthier than store-bought jam. First of all, I know exactly what’s in my jam. There are absolutely no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Also, store-bought jams usually have a lot more sugar than fruit (probably because of the added pectin).

3 – Save money

When strawberries are in season, they are much cheaper. Making jam when they’re in season is also a great way of having it throughout the year.

4 – It’s easy

This is the best reason of all – making homemade strawberry jam is really simple! You don’t need any fancy equipment, either.

5 – It’s the perfect consistency

This jam isn’t too thick or too runny – it’s the perfect consistency. That’s why it can also be used as a simple strawberry sauce, too!

This is a tried & trusted strawberry jam recipe.

strawberry jam

Here’s what you’ll need:

Strawberries: I use fresh strawberries.

Sugar: I always use regular, granulated sugar because it dissolves easily. Most recipes use a ratio of 1:1 regarding the amount of sugar and fruit used by weight, but I find this is too sweet for strawberry jam. I always weigh the strawberries and add half the weight of sugar.

Lemon Juice: It has lots of pectin, which is needed to thicken the jam naturally.

2-3 small plates: I always put 2 or 3 small plates in the refrigerator when I start making the jam. They are needed to test when the jam has set and they have to be really cold. The reason I use 2-3 is because if I start to test the jam on a plate and it’s not ready, I’ll need another really cold, clean plate to test it again in a few minutes. So, I like putting 2 or 3 in the refrigerator when I start making the jam.

HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY JAM

Cut the strawberries in half and put them in a large bowl.

Add the sugar and cover all the strawberries.

Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Put the plates in refrigerator.

Pour the strawberry mixture into a large, deep saucepan or pot. Start cooking on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the lemon juice and gently bring to a boil and continue boiling steadily, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, about 30-40 minutes.

Start testing to see if the jam has set. Transfer the jam to clean, sterilized jars.

How do you know when the jam is set?

Most experts suggest boiling the jam until it reaches a temperature of 220°F (105°C). But what do you do when you don’t have a thermometer?

No worries! If you don’t have a thermometer to test the jam, here’s a foolproof method I use. Check out the photo below!

how to test when jam is set

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • Use ripe, undamaged strawberries.
  • You want to keep the strawberries and sugar in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or (better yet) overnight because the strawberries release juices and dissolve the sugar, creating a thick syrup. Because the sugar is dissolved, making the jam is much faster and easier. Also, you don’t risk burning the fruit when boiling it. You could skip this step completely, but there would be extra time on the stove stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved.
  • When you start bringing it to a boil, you want to do it slowly and gently so you don’t scorch or burn the fruit. So be patient and don’t rush this step.
  • When you start testing the jam to see if it has set, make sure you take it off the heat first.
  • If you don’t like thick chunky pieces of fruit, mash the strawberries with a potato masher or pastry blender.

strawberry jam

WHERE TO USE HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY JAM

Of course, there are lots of ways to use homemade strawberry jam besides peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Here are just a few ideas:

  • spread it on plain or buttered toast
  • spoon some over Greek yogurt
  • use it to top vanilla ice cream
  • mix it with some cream cheese and spread it over sourdough bread
  • spread some over cheesecake or  brownies
  • spoon some over fruit salad
  • surprise someone and give it as a gift

Let me know how this strawberry jam turned out for you in the comments below!

I’d love to hear from you!

~Voula

EASY STRAWBERRY JAM (Without Pectin + Tips)

This homemade strawberry jam is made with only 3 ingredients! Learn how to make this delicious jam from scratch, without using a thermometer. It really is easier than you think!
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy,, homemade, strawberry, jam, no pectin, no thermometer
Servings: 2 - 3 small jars

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) strawberries
  • 500 g (2 ½ cups / 17.6 oz) sugar
  • juice from 1 lemon

Instructions

  • Wash the strawberries. Remove the stems and any bad spots.
  • Cut the strawberries in half and put them in a large bowl.
  • Add the sugar and cover all the strawberries.
  • Cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Put the plates in the refrigerator.
  • Pour the strawberries into a large, deep pot. Start cooking on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Increase heat to medium and stir to completely dissolve the sugar. Remove any foam that forms on the surface.
  • Add the lemon juice and gently bring to a boil and continue boiling steadily, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, about 30-40 minutes.
  • If you don’t like thick chunky pieces of fruit, mash the strawberries with a potato masher or pastry blender.
  • Take the jam off the heat and start testing to see if it has set.
  • Take out a plate from the refrigerator and put a teaspoon of jam on it. Put the plate back in the refrigerator for 1-2 minutes. Then take it out of the refrigerator and push the jam with the back of a clean spoon. If it crinkles and wrinkles and remains separated, it’s set (see photo in the post). If not, put the jam back on the heat and continue cooking. Test it again every 2-3 minutes until it’s reached the setting point. Be careful! It can set really fast!
  • Transfer the jam to clean, sterilized jars.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use ripe, undamaged strawberries.
  • You want to keep the strawberries and sugar in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or (better yet) overnight because the strawberries release juices and dissolve the sugar, creating a thick syrup. Because the sugar is dissolved, making the jam is much faster and easier and you don’t risk burning the fruit. You could skip this step completely, but there would be extra time on the stove until the sugar is dissolved.
  • When you start bringing it to a boil, you want to do it slowly and gently so you don’t scorch or burn the fruit. 
  • When you start testing the jam to see if it has set, make sure you take it off the heat first.
  • See the photo in the post to help you know when the jam is set.
  • You can store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 months.
© Pastry Wishes
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MANDARIN MARMALADE (Without Pectin + Tips)

This mandarin marmalade is spiced with cinnamon and has a unique, bittersweet flavor! The hint of brandy adds a balance to the sweet and tangy fruit. It’s great on toast for breakfast or over Greek yogurt!

Mandarin Marmalade

I love making jams and marmalades when the fruit is in season! That way I have different jams and marmalades all throughout the year!

My neighbors gave me a huge bag of mandarins from their organic citrus farm in Sparta, which is in the Peloponnese. Sparta is well-known for its citrus fruit, so I couldn’t wait to make this marmalade!

Mandarin Marmalade

I have to be upfront with you – this is not a very quick recipe and it tends to be a bit messy, BUT, believe me, it’s easy and totally worth it!

Like all my jams and marmalades, this recipe does not use commercial pectin. I always avoid it because you need a lot of sugar when using pectin, sometimes up to 80%  more! So I avoid commercial pectin like the plague!

This marmalade is made with only 5 ingredients, each with its own purpose and importance.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Mandarins: I used seedless mandarins for this recipe, but you could use tangerines or clementines.

Sugar: I always use regular, granulated sugar because it dissolves easily. You could use dark brown sugar as long as you don’t mind the marmalade turning dark in color.

Cinnamon Sticks: They really give an amazing mild flavor.

Lemon Juice: It has lots of pectin, which is needed to thicken the marmalade naturally.

Brandy or Cognac: This pairs well with citrus fruit and cinnamon! I really love the combination!

2 small plates: I always put 2 small plates in the refrigerator when I start making the marmalade. They are needed to test if the marmalade has set.

Mandarin Marmalade

How to make Mandarin Marmalade in 4 Steps:

STEP 1: PREP THE MANDARINS AND LEMON JUICE

Juice 2 lemons and set aside. Wash the mandarins well and pat dry. Juice half of them and set the juice aside. Put the peels in a heavy pot. Peel the remaining mandarins, discard the pith, and put all the peels in the pot. Chop the fruit into small pieces, removing any seeds. If you don’t like chunky pieces of fruit in the marmalade, you can put the fruit in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

STEP 2: PREP THE PEELS TO REMOVE THE BITTERNESS

Cover the peels in the pot with water. Boil for about 15 minutes and then drain the water. Stack a few peels one on top of the other, and cut into strips, as thick as you like. Put them back into the pot.

STEP 3: MAKE THE MARMALADE (OR PREP IT FOR THE NEXT DAY)

Add the fruit, the lemon juice and mandarin juice to the pot with the peels. Weigh this mixture and add the same amount of sugar (for example, if the fruit mixture weighs 1 kilo (2.2 pounds), add 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of sugar). Add the cinnamon sticks.

(Note: At this point, if you’re pressed for time, you could cover the pot now, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and continue making the marmalade the next day.)

Put the pot on medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Then turn up the heat to high and bring to a rapid boil, uncovered. Remove any foam from the top. Stir often to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

STEP 4: TEST THE MARMALADE AND SEAL

After about 30-35 minutes, take the pot off the heat to test if the marmalade has set. The mixture will have reduced and become thick. Spoon some of the mixture onto a cold plate and put it back into the refrigerator for about 1-2 minutes. Then take it back out and push the mixture with the back of a teaspoon. If it crinkles while you’re pushing, the marmalade is set. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and then stir in the cognac/brandy. Pour into sterilized jars, leaving about 1 cm (1/2 inch) headspace. Clean the rim of the jars with damp paper towels and seal.

For a simple method of testing the marmalade, check out the photo tutorial in this post .

It’s what I use to test all my jams and marmalades.

TIPS FOR MAKING MARMALADE

1 Use sterilized jars and utensils.

2 Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before bringing everything to a rolling boil.

3 While you’re testing the marmalade to see if it has set, take the pot off the heat or you might overcook it and make it too thick and dry.

4 Allow about 1 cm (1/2 inch) headspace when filling the jars.

I hope you enjoy this mandarin marmalade!

~Voula

Let me know how this mandarin marmalade turns out for you in the comments! I would love to hear from you!

MANDARIN MARMALADE (Without Pectin + Tips)

This mandarin marmalade is spiced with cinnamon and has a unique, bittersweet flavor! The hint of brandy adds a balance to the sweet and tangy fruit. It’s great on toast for breakfast or over Greek yogurt!
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: mandarin, marmalade, tips, without pectin
Servings: 2 kilos (4.4 lbs)

Ingredients

  • 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) mandarins/tangerines/clementines
  • about 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) sugar (depending on the weight of the fruit mixture)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac (optional)

Instructions

  • Put 2 small plates in the refrigerator (they'll be needed to test if the marmalade has set).

PREP THE MANDARINS AND LEMON JUICE

  • Juice 2 lemons and set aside.
  • Wash the mandarins well and pat dry. Juice half of them and set the juice aside.
  • Put the peels in a heavy pot.
  • Peel the remaining mandarins, discard the pith, and put all the peels in the pot.
  • Chop the fruit into small pieces, removing any seeds. If you don’t like chunky pieces of fruit in the marmalade, you can put the fruit in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

PREP THE PEELS TO REMOVE THE BITTERNESS

  • Cover the peels in the pot with water. Boil for about 15 minutes and then drain the water.
  • Stack a few peels one on top of the other, and cut into strips. Put them back into the pot.

MAKE THE MARMALADE (OR PREP IT FOR THE NEXT DAY)

  • Add the fruit, the lemon juice and mandarin juice to the pot with the peels.
  • Weigh this mixture and add the same amount of sugar (for example, if the fruit mixture weighs 1 kilo (2.2 pounds), add 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of sugar).
  • Add the cinnamon sticks.

(NOTE: At this point, if you're pressed for time, you could cover the pot now, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and continue making the marmalade the next day.)

  • Put the pot on medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Then turn up the heat to high and bring to a rapid boil, uncovered.
  • Remove any foam from the top. Stir often to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

TEST THE MARMALADE AND SEAL

  • After about 30-35 minutes, take the pot off the heat to test if the marmalade has set. The mixture will have reduced and become thick. Spoon some of the mixture onto a cold plate and put it back into the refrigerator for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Then take it back out and push the mixture with the back of a teaspoon. If it crinkles while you’re pushing, the marmalade is set.
  • Let it cool for about 10 minutes and then stir in the brandy or cognac.
  • Pour into sterilized jars, leaving about 1 cm (1/2 inch) headspace. Clean the rim of the jars with damp paper towels and seal.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

The marmalade will thicken a bit as it cools.
© Pastry Wishes
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