A few secret ingredients take this basic pectin-free strawberry jam from great to fabulous. It really is the best strawberry jam!
Canning is one of my favorite summertime hobbies, and I love having preserved summer fruits and veggies to enjoy all year. But even if canning isn’t your thing, you should definitely be making your own jam!
Homemade jam is very easy to make at home and SO much better than storebought. Strawberry jam is our favorite, so I always make a huge batch every summer.
And this is my favorite recipe! It’s made without pectin and includes a few simple secret ingredients that make it shine above all other recipes I’ve tried.
The Best Strawberry Jam
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to get started. This recipe is perfect for early summer when strawberries are fresh an abundant!
- Fresh strawberries
- Bottled lemon juice
- Granulated sugar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Vanilla bean or vanilla extract
Balsamic vinegar and vanilla are my special secret ingredients that really make this strawberry jam the best. I promise you’ve never had jam this good! You can leave out one or the other if you like and the recipe will still work great, but I recommend both for optimal flavor.
No pectin Required!
This strawberry jam is made without added pectin, which is great because it means you don’t have to worry whether you have it stocked in the pantry.
Pectin is used to quickly thicken and set jams and jellies, but it’s actually naturally occurring in fruit. All you need to draw out the natural pectin to thicken your homemade jam is time, so you may notice that this recipe calls for a much longer cook time than ones that use pectin.
How to Make Strawberry Jam
- Prep the strawberries. Clean, hull (remove the stem), and slice the strawberries. I like this quick video on how to remove stems.
- Combine all ingredients. Add strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla bean or extract to a large pot.
- Bring to a gentle boil. Set pot over medium-high heat, stirring mixture frequently as sugar dissolves and strawberries release their juices.
- Cook until thick. Once jam has reached a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until jam is reduced and thick, stirring occasionally and skimming any foam from the top. This can take up to 45-60 minutes.
- Use right away or store. Read below to see how to store jam in the fridge, freezer, or canned in sterilized jars. Or enjoy it right away!
How to Know if Jam is Set
Since this recipe doesn’t use pectin, we’re relying on time to thicken the jam naturally. But how do you know when it’s done? Here are a few simple ways to test your jam:
- Use a spoon. Scoop a bit of the jam with a spoon and slowly pour it back into the pot. If it runs off immediately the jam is not done. If it hangs onto the spoon briefly and falls in drips, it’s done. (Check out this video demonstration.)
- Use a plate. Put a plate in the freezer for 15 minutes. Place a spoonful of jam on the plate and let it rest for a few moments to cool it. Run your finger through the jam. If your finger leaves a path through the plate and the jam doesn’t run to fill it, the jam is done. (Check out this video demonstration.)
3 Ways to Store Jam
- In the fridge— You can store jam in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 month.
- In the freezer— Store jam in a sturdy airtight container in the freezer for several months.
- In your pantry— Process jars of jam per instructions below and store in a cool, dark place (like a cupboard or pantry) for up to 1 year. New to canning? Check out my canning tips and resources page.
More Jam Recipes to Try
The Best Strawberry Jam
- 2 pounds strawberries , hulled and sliced (900 grams)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (60 ml) (see Note)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
- 2-3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar , to taste
- 1 vanilla bean , split lengthwise or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
To make the jam:
- Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently.
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally. Periodically skim foam off of the top.
- After about 45-60 minutes, jam should be thick and drop from a spoon in thick drips. Cook longer if needed.
- Remove vanilla bean pod if you added one, and spoon into desired storage container(s).
To store in fridge:
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
To store in the freezer:
- Store in a sturdy airtight container for up to several months.
To process in a home-canner:
- If canning, fill sterilized jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and cover with sterilized lids and rings. Process in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Make sure the water covers the jars completely, and that it is boiling for the entire processing time.
- Let cool to room temperature before removing rings and storing.
- Canned jam will store for up to one year at room temperature.
- If you are planning to process and can this jam, bottled lemon juice is the best option as it has a consistent level of acidity which is needed to preserve the jam. If you are freezing or storing the jam in the refrigerator, you can use freshly squeezed lemon juice if you prefer.
This recipe was originally published June 2012. Photos and recipe have been updated.