A tried-and-true strawberry jam recipe for canning, made with sugar only, this recipe does not contain any pectin. This step-by-step guide for canning strawberry jam will help you get your pantry stocked up today!
In the spring when the strawberries are in season, I always spend a few days restocking our shelves with strawberry jam. And no matter how many jars I put up, it never seems to be enough!
Homemade strawberry jam is the favorite of both my son and my husband for everything from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to homemade einkorn biscuits, and more!
Canning Strawberry Jam
Before you jump into canning your strawberry jam, let's cover a few things to help you have the best canning experience possible. Below I will cover ingredients and possible substitutions, as well as some of my best tips for success.
Strawberries: You can use fresh strawberries or frozen strawberries for this recipe. If using frozen, I like to place them in a bowl in the fridge overnight so that cooking the jam is faster. Wash and remove the greens, then chop the strawberries finely, either by hand, or in a food processor - or use a food masher to mash them into smaller pieces as they cook.
Sugar: We use white sugar for our strawberry jam and we don't use any pectin. This causes the sugar content to be higher in the finished product, but since I have an allergy to pectin, we can't use it.
If you'd like to reduce the amount of sugar, you can use just 3 cups of sugar, 3/4 cup of water, and 3 tablespoons of powdered pectin.
Using Honey Instead of Sugar: If you'd like to use honey instead, you can use 4 cups of honey for this recipe, along with 4 tablespoons of powdered pectin. Cook the jam for about 20 minutes, instead of 15, and note that the consistency of the jam will be somewhat softer.
Best Canning Jar Size for Strawberry Jam
Now that you have a good idea for which variation of ingredients you'd like to use, it's time to choose your jar sizes.
Quarts Canning Jars: While I love how much food I am able to can quickly when using quart jars, they don't make a good choice for canning jams and jellies. At least not in our family! We don't go through sweet items quickly enough to need to open a quart at a time. Additionally, canning jam or jelly in large jars can result in a weaker gel set up, as the residual heat from the large jar will keep the jam hot for too long.
Pint Canning Jars: These feel like the "just right" jar that you'd find in the 3 bears house! A pint of homemade strawberry jam is about the same amount of jam you'd find in a store-bought jar. It will fit nicely anywhere in your fridge, and you'll be able to use it all before the jam starts to grow mold.
Half-Pint Canning Jars: If you are wanting to gift homemade strawberry jam, then canning your jam in half-pint jars is a great idea! You'll be able to give a nice gift to friends and family, without breaking the bank. The processing time for half-pints is the same as for pints.
How to Make Strawberry Jam for Canning
In addition to the very detailed step-by-step guide in the printable recipe section of this post, I wanted to give you a quick overview of the process for actually making the jam here. Note, if you don't want to can this jam, you can jar it and put it in the fridge for about 2-4 weeks instead!
- Wash and Cut - Take your fresh strawberries and wash them well. Remove the stems and leaves, and slice them into at least quarters. The smaller the pieces, the more smooth your finished jam will be. If you are using frozen strawberries, simply cut them up well, no washing is needed.
- Cook and Mash - Add your chopped strawberries and 1/2 of your sweetener to a large pot and start to heat them. Mash them with a food masher or a wooden spoon as they heat.
- Reduce and Thicken - Once the strawberries are heated, add your sweetener and pectin (if using). Bring mixture to a boil and stirring constantly, continue heating for 15-20 minutes, or until mixture starts to thicken.
- Test Consistency - Using the back of a metal spoon, stir spoon through mixture and raise it out of the pot. Turn to spoon sideways with the back facing you. If the jam stays put without sliding off, and if running your finger through the jam (cool it a bit first) leaves a line that doesn't fill in right away, your jam is ready to can!
How to Can Strawberry Jam
If you're new to canning and want a deeper look at the canning process, this post on water bath canning has everything you need to know. Here's a quick breakdown for now.
- Cook and Prep - Make your strawberry jam as outlined above. Meanwhile, prep your hot water canner or large pot by filling it half-way with water and setting it to simmer.
- Fill and Lid - Fill your clean, warm canning jars with your finished strawberry jam. Leave 1/4" headspace. Clean the rims of each jar with a clean, hot towel to remove any sugar or reside that might prevent a seal. Add a lid and ring to each jar and tighten to finger-tightness.
- Water Bath Canning - Using a jar lifter, add the full mason jars into the water bath canner. Add more water if needed to bring the level up 1-2 inches above the jars. Bring canner to a boil and set the timer for 15 minutes once the water is boiling.
- Rest and Remove - Once the timer ends, turn the stove off and let the canner rest for 5-10 minutes. Use the jar lifter to remove the jars and place them on a towel or canning rack to cool. Rest jars, untouched for 12-24 hours before removing the bands and testing the seals.
- Testing the Seal - After jars are completely cool, double check the seals. Unscrew bands and press down gently on the center of each lid. If you don’t feel any give, the jar has properly sealed. If lid springs back up, the lid didn’t seal.
- Storage - Store your canned strawberry jam in a cool dark place. If you have a jar where the lid didn't seal, simply place that jar in the fridge and use it first!
3 Best Tips for Canning Strawberry Jam
For over a decade I've been making this strawberry jam for my family, and here are a few things I've learned that I want to pass on to you. These tips have helped us make and enjoy the best homemade strawberry jam, year after year!
Make a Single Batch at a Time - It might be tempting to speed things up by doubling or tripling a batch of jam. However, because of the water content and the way gelling works (especially without the use of pectin) increasing the number of batches you are making at once will only lead to failure and frustration!
Test Before You Can - While you might think your jam is ready to can, if you don't slow down and do a spoon test, you'll end up with runny jam after canning. Don't rush!
Really Enjoy It - This is the BEST tip I have for you today. Don't save your homemade jam for a special occasion... enjoy it as often as you can! So many times I hear about people who canned jam and then they view it as too precious to eat. Don't do that! You are making this for your family to enjoy, so make sure they do. Bake a batch of homemade biscuits and pop open a jar of that delicious strawberry jelly as soon as it's ready to open!
Homemade Strawberry Jam for Canning
- 5 pint jars with lids and rings
- Canning tool set
- Wash the jars by hand using soap and hot water. Do the same with the rings and lids.
- Next wash and slice strawberries. Add them to your large jam pot. Start mashing them one layer at a time until all strawberries are cut and mashed. I use a sturdy whisk or a potato masher for this step. Remember that any chucks of strawberry you leave will end up in your jam. That's not a bad thing, just be aware!
- Place jam pot on the stove and add the sugar. Stir until mixed well. With heat on med-high, stir regularly until sugar is dissolved.
- While sugar is dissolving, fill your canning pot a little less than half-way with water and start bringing to a low simmer.
- Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat up to high and stir constantly.
- After 15-20 minutes the jam will start to thicken and coat the stirring spoon. At this point, remove the jam from the stove.
- Place the funnel into the jar and position them where you can easily fill the jars with jam.
- Ladle in the hot jam, being careful to leave a 1/4" headspace (the amount of air left in the jar from the top of the jam to the top edge of the jar).
- Once all jars are full, use the bubble remover. Place the tool all the way into the jar until it touches the bottom and run it along the entire wall of the jar. This will remove any air bubbles that might cause bacterial growth.
- Use a clean dish cloth or paper towel, wet with some boiling water from the lid/rings pot, to clean the top rim of the jar. Be careful not to drip water into the jam!
- Add a lid and ring to each jar. Hand-tighten only.
- Using the jar lifter, place 5 jars into the canning pot. Make sure that they do not touch. If they touch during the canning process, they could shake too much and break.
- Make sure that there is at least 1 1/2" - 2" of water covering the top of the jars. If there isn't, add more hot water.
- Turn the heat up to high until a full boil is achieved. Once a full boil starts, set a timer for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the boiling water. Place them on a towel and do not move them for at least 6 hours.
- Listen for a popping noise over the next hour. That is the jar fully sealing!
- Make sure to check that all jars have sealed. If they haven't you can try to process them again in the water bath, or simply place them in the refrigerator and use them first!
Even More Water Bath Canning Recipes
Ready to add more delicious goods to your homemade pantry, without pulling out the pressure canner? I've got you covered! Here are a few more of our favorite water bath canning recipes from our homestead to yours.