A simple recipe for Strawberry Jam without Pectin that uses just 3 ingredients. It is also lower in sugar than traditional recipes.
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Can you make Strawberry Jam without Pectin and with less sugar?
Strawberry Jam without pectin and with less sugar? Can that be possible? Oh yes. And it is just as jammy and fruity as any other you will have tasted.
Let’s face it, there is nothing more delicious than home-made strawberry jam. It always knocks spots off the commercial supermarket brands, even the most up-market ones. Perhaps it is the psychological effect of the incredible smell of fruit and jam being prepared in the kitchen. Maybe it’s because of the love and care that we know has gone into it. But it is always special.
Not only did I make this jam with less sugar and no pectin, but I also used our wonderful local Kentish strawberries… When strawberry season arrives in late May-early June, I always feel lucky to live in the Garden of England. But wherever you live, it’s great to buy local and make the best of seasonal produce. Preserves are a perfect way to use fruits so that all the flavour is locked and ready to enjoy when the season ends.
What is Pectin and Why is it Used in Jam?
As a child I used to watch my mum make jar after jar of strawberry jam. It was an annual ritual… Bring home a boot-full of pick-your-own strawberries from the farm… spend ‘hours’ trimming and preparing them… stand in the kitchen and smell the magic that was happening on the stove.
But there was always bags of pectin thrown into the mix… So what is it and why is it used in jam?
Pectin is actually a natural substance (a polysaccharide) which is found in some fruit. Its sorcery happens when heated with sugar… causing the liquid jam to thicken and gel. However, not all fruits are equal and naturally-occurring pectin levels vary from one to another. Strawberries are one of the fruits that contain way less than is needed for jam-making and thus, many recipes call for it to be artificially added.
Pectin can of course be bought in sachets from many supermarkets. Usually made with an extract from apples (+ a little citric acid and dextrose), it will pretty much guarantee the transition of the fruit to jam, but is it really needed?
Making Strawberry Jam without Pectin
Interestingly and despite my childhood learning, I have never used pectin when making jam. But whilst some fruits will naturally gel, making strawberry jam without pectin does require a little extra understanding.
The secret however is simple… To add an additional fruit or juice that comes from the group of fruits that are very high in pectin. Most commonly, lemon and apples are used. My Mixed Berry and Apple Jam became deliciously thick when I used both, but also gave the jam a distinctly apple flavour.
To avoid affecting the strawberryness, this strawberry jam recipe uses a small amount of lemon juice to help it set. Sceptical? It may not seem like it will work (and it does take a little longer to cook) but it has the most delectable consistency. Not over-gelled, but still thick enough to dollop to perfection on scones. And if you are looking for the Best Gluten Free Scones, just click to find the one’s featured here…
What About the Sugar? Can You Really Use Less?
There’s no getting away from the fact that as a population, we eat way too much sugar. And sure, jam contains a lot. It is essential to the preservation of the fruit. But what if we can make it with less of the ‘evil stuff’?
Let’s be honest, when you break it down into simple ingredients, a jam that contains more or as much sugar as fruit really doesn’t sit well. And if it has that much sugar, can you really taste the fruit?
This recipe for strawberry jam without pectin AND with less sugar shows you it can be done… All the fruity satisfaction and pleasure, but with less guilt! There really is no magic and you won’t need a cauldron. It’s just a case of using less of the sweet stuff and having patience while it cooks.
Made This Recipe?
If you make my Strawberry Jam without Pectin (or any of my other recipes), let me know how you got on. Comment, tag me on Social Media, or send me a message. I always love seeing what you’ve been making.
For more Gluten Free Alchemist Jams and Preserves, why not head over to our Jam, Chutney, Spreads and Curd Index. And for lots of other recipes, we have a beautiful photographic Recipe Index that you can now browse too.
Strawberry Jam without Pectin (less sugar too)
- 2 to 3 jam jars
- Baking tray
- large heavy-based saucepan
- wooden/silicone spoon
- cooking/jam thermometer
- 1 kilogram fresh strawberries trimmed, hulled & cut in half
- 375 g granulated sugar
- 60 ml lemon juice
Sterilise the Jars
- Sterilise a couple of jam jars whilst you make your jam : Wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Do not dry.
- Wash any silicone/rubber seals (from Kilner jars) separately with hot soapy water and set aside.
- Place the clean jars and their lids (but not the silicone seals from Kilner jars) into a cold oven on a baking tray and turn the oven on to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
- Leave at heated oven temperature for at least 20 minutes.
- Once the jars have sterilised, turn off the oven, but leave the jars to cool in the oven, until ready to use.
- Place all the ingredients into a large, heavy-based saucepan and gently heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Bring the mixture to a boil stirring frequently, breaking down the strawberries with the back of a spoon.
- Use a cooking/jam thermometer and continue to boil, stirring frequently until the liquid reduces significantly and the temperature reaches jam set point (220 F/105 C). Be patient, it will take a while. Let it boil at this temperature for a minute.
- Remove from the heat and carefully pour into the sterilised jars straight away. Top with the lids (being careful not to burn your fingers). As the jam cools, the tightly screwed lids will ‘suck in’ to create a sterile vacuum.
- Cool completely.