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Simple Strawberry Jam

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Guided by a recipe for “low-sugar” jam in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

Note: Use this recipe as a guide. Strawberries vary dramatically in sweetness, and depending on ripeness, the level of pectin will vary, too. My mother added lemon to taste and followed Bittman’s plate-in-the-freezer trick for determining doneness.

Plate-in-the-freezer trick to determine in advance if your fruit will gel: Stick a plate in the freezer for 10 minutes. When it has cooked down to mush, place one teaspoonful on a cold plate. Place the plate in the fridge. Check it after 2 minutes. If the jam has gelled, you’re all set. Otherwise, continue cooking the jam for 5 to 10 minutes longer using this technique to check for doneness as you wish.


  • 12 oz. strawberries (to yield about 3 cups once hulled and quartered), hulled and quartered
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar (or more or less depending on sweetness)
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice (mom ended up using about 2 tablespoons)


  1. Place the strawberries and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan. Add about a tablespoon of lemon juice. Turn the heat to medium high. Stick a plate in the freezer if you feel you are going to want to test the jam for doneness before it cools.
  2. Cook, stirring frequently, breaking up the fruit with the back of a fork, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture liquifies. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick, about 30 minutes (or more or less — Mom ended up cooking the jam for about 45 minutes). Use the plate-in-the-freezer trick if you wish to determine doneness. Taste and add more lemon juice or sugar if necessary. Cool and refrigerate.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hours