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Low Sugar Apricot Strawberry Jam

This sweet, tangy, and bright apricot strawberry jam is the perfect marriage of early season stonefruit and juicy berries. Try it stirred into yogurt or as a glaze for roast chicken.

A stainless steel pan, filled with chopped apricots and strawberries.

Several weeks ago, before the local season for either apricots or strawberries started, I found myself wandering through Reading Terminal Market. I was there to pick up a few things for a recipe development gig, and had no intention of buying out-of-season fruit that had traveled great distances.

A stainless steel pan filled with sugared apricots and strawberries.

I was walking with purpose towards the herbs, when the sight of a pile of tiny, brightly hued apricots stopped me mid-step and I was suddenly powerless to resist them. Before I knew what I was doing, I had a plastic bag in my hand and I was filling it with perfect fruit. With the bag nestled into my basket, I went a few more steps before I was again stopped by a display of incredibly fragrant strawberries. They joined the apricots. This is the not the first time I’ve fallen sway to fruit.

The chopped and sugared apricots and strawberries, after they've sat and gotten juicy.

Once home, I snacked on the fruit a bit (both to get a sense of their state of sweet and tart, and because it all smelled so good) and then weighed out what remained. I worked up a recipe ratio in my head and got to the work of pitted, hulling, and chopping.

The fully cooked apricot strawberry jam.

In the end, I used 2 1/2 pounds of apricots and 1 1/2 pounds of strawberries. Using a ratio of four parts fruit to one part sugar, I measured out 2 cups of sugar, which is approximately 1 pound. I settled the fruit into my Kilner jam pan, added most of the sugar, gave it a good stir, and then let it sit for several hours, so that the sugar could dissolve and help draw the juice from the fruit. Later, I added some lemon juice to help balance the flavors, and used Pomona’s Pectin to get it to set up.

Five half pint jars filled with apricot strawberry jam.

Once cooked, I had exactly five half pints of really delicious jam, that starts with the flavor of apricots and finishes with the strawberry. I typically keep a box of recently made jams and preserves next to my front door, so that I can easily grab things to share with friends and neighbors. However, this is one that I’ve actively kept out of the box, because I want to keep it all for myself. It’s just that good.

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Honey Sweetened Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Five jars of honey sweetened strawberry vanilla jam.

If this post is accurate (which, to my best count, it is), there are at least 14 ways to preserve strawberries in the archives of this site. There are yet more versions in my books. And yet, despite all these approaches, I can’t resist adding this honey sweetened strawberry vanilla jam variant to the conversation.

Sliced strawberries in a large pot, with honey drizzling down.

A couple of pieces of advice before you take on this recipe. Number one, use really delicious honey. The flavor of the honey really comes through in this recipe, so you want to use one that tastes amazing (I used some of the honey that Camille from Old Blue Raw Honey gave me when I saw her back in March).

Six jars of honey sweetened strawberry vanilla jam.

My second piece of advice is to get yourself a small stash of grade B vanilla beans from a purveyor like Beanilla. They have all the flavor of the grade A versions, and are markedly cheaper. And if vanilla beans aren’t in the cards for you, a jar of vanilla bean paste is better than vanilla extract, because you’ll still get the speckle and flavor from the seeds.

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Low Sugar Blackberry Rhubarb Jam

three jars of low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam on a bench

Lately, Trader Joe’s had been selling 12 ounce containers of blackberries for right around $3.50. For those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest, it might seem crazy to pay for good money for blackberries since come August, they’re going to be everywhere. But for those of us who live in less blackberry-rich environs, this is a very good price.

blackberries, rhubarb, and sugar in a pot before being cooked into jam

As a result, I’ve been making lots of preserves with blackberries. I did a batch scented with lavender, and another batch with cinnamon and nutmeg, like my mom always makes. I also did this low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam, encouraged by an email from a reader who asked if I’d ever done such a combination).

I really love how it turned out. Tangy from the rhubarb, rich from the berries, and just sweet enough with a relatively small amount of sugar. If you wanted to make this jam with honey rather than with sugar, reduce the amount to 1 cup and save 1/3 a cup to add at the end with the pectin.

a close up of two jars of low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam

Oh, and if you don’t want to spring for blackberries now, but can get them at a better price later in the season, you can still make this jam. Just chop up a pound of rhubarb now, put it in a ziptop bag, and tuck it into the freezer until August. Frozen rhubarb behaves beautifully in jams.

Finally, if this jam doesn’t float your boat, I’ve got a couple other blackberry recipes in the archives. Perhaps my classic Blackberry Jam or this Blackberry Apricot Jam will float your boat!

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Meyer Lemon Lavender Jam

Meyer Lemon Jam Tower - Food in Jars

Oh friends. I meant to post this recipe weeks ago, but with the intensity and chaos of life lately, it got lost in the shuffle. We’re getting late in the season for Meyer lemons, but if you’re motivated, you should be able to find a few for this jam. If you’re in Philly, know that Sue’s Produce has them (for $4 a pound, but still).

Trimmed Lemons in Pot - Food in Jars

I made my first whole fruit citrus jam a few years ago, and continue to love it as an alternative to marmalade. You get all the zippy tang and flavor, without the hours of chopping and mincing (though if you love marmalade for it’s texture, this is no substitute).

Meyer Lemon Jam Jars - Food in Jars

To prep, you wash and trim the fruit. Layer it in a pot large enough to hold the fruit in a single layer and run enough water in to just cover the fruit. Set the pot on the stove, put a lid on it, and simmer the fruit for about 20 minutes, until the lemons are tender, but not falling apart.

Once they’re cool, you cut the fruit in half, scoop out the seeds over a sieve, puree the fruit, and cook it down with sugar and flavorings. In this case, I infused the fruit with some dried lavender, but I’ve been pondering a batch spiked with chiles.

Dozen Meyer Lemon Jam - Food in Jars

The applications for a jam like this vary. I’ve had great success pairing it with fresh, creamy cheeses like ricotta or farmers. If you leave it a little bit runny, a drizzle into a bowl of yogurt, fruit, and granola is terrific. It can also be used to lend acid and sweetness to stir-fried chicken or shrimp. Heck, if you left the lavender out, I can see it being a delicious dipping sauce for homemade chicken fingers.

On the beverage side, you could stir a spoonful into a mug of hot water when your throat is scratchy. Or use some in a hot toddy in place of honey. There are just so many options.

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Canning 101: How to Make Jam With Frozen Fruit + Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam

frozen apricots - Food in Jars

It is mid-winter, which means that the pickings are quite slim for canners in search of fresh fruit to turn into jams and fruit butters. However, if you’ve got a preserving itch that must be scratched, take heart and turn to the freezer.

frozen apricots top - Food in Jars

Whether you’re using fruit you yourself tucked into the deep freeze or you’ve decided to rely on that which you can find in the cases at the grocery store, it’s possible to coax satisfying spreads out of previously as long as you remember a couple of things.

frozen apricots sugared - Food in Jars

First and most important, don’t defrost your fruit prior to combining it with the sugar. I’ve made jam from a wide array of frozen fruit in my time, and I’ve learned that my results are always better if I liberally dust the fruit with sugar while it’s still frozen.

The sugar draws away some of the water in the fruit, which helps it hold its shape better, while also providing some protection against browning. This is especially helpful in the case of light-colored fruit like apricots and peaches, which will turn grey and squishy if left to defrost on their own.

defrosting apricots - Food in Jars

The second tip for success when using frozen fruit in preserving is to use weight as your measurement tool. Because you’re going to sugar the fruit before it has defrosted, volume measurements for the fruit won’t be accurate. By using weight as your guiding measurement, you’ll be able to keep the proportions of fruit to sugar steady and set yourself up for success.

finished jam - Food in Jars

For those of you who made plenty of jam back in the summer and question why one would want to make jam from frozen fruit, I have four words for you. Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam.

This season bending preserve isn’t possible to make on the east coast without the aid of a freezer, but it is good enough that I try to stash four pounds of apricots in my freezer drawer each summer, so that I’m able to make it when Meyer lemons are in season. Oh, and if you can’t wait another year for this one, try freezing some Meyer lemon juice and zest right now, to save for apricot season.

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Three Springs Fruit Farm + Food in Jars

Three Springs Fruit Farm + Food in Jars Preserves

As so many good things in life do, it started with a conversation at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market. Ben Wenk from Three Springs Fruit Farm was looking for ways to make their line of preserves more interesting and wondered if I had any ideas. I suggested some recipes that I thought might work for large scale production. And thus, a partnership was born.

Food in Jars logo on Tart Cherry Jam

Right now, there are just three preserves that are made with Ben’s fruit and my recipes, but hopefully there will be more. There’s the Salted Brown Sugar Peach Jam, the Tart Cherry Jam, and my classic, beloved, much-celebrated Tomato Jam. You can buy them online as a set of three, or if you’re in the mid-Atlantic region, in person at a farmers market.

These preserves don’t mean you should stop making your own. But it does mean that if you run out of tomato jam in March, you can now get your hands on a few jars to tide you over until tomato season returns.

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