Strawberry Jam

rows of jars

Several weeks ago, I got up early on Saturday morning, collected my friend Shay (she’s my regular fruit-picking buddy) and drove half an hour out into the New Jersey countryside. We spent the rest of the morning in the field of Gaventa’s strawberry farm, crouching over the rows of plants, plucking handfuls of berries into our containers.

I stopped picked only when the back of my neck had turned a bright pink (I somehow only got sunscreen on my front, it made for an entertaining burn) and the knees of my jeans were stained red from kneeling on errant berries between the rows.

foam-filled measuring cup

I brought home nearly 15 pounds of hard-earned berries (they were $1.35 a pound, I love how inexpensive things can be when you just invest a bit of your own labor). I washed and chopped nearly all of them (I kept about two quarts unchopped for plain old eating) within a couple of hours of getting them home.

I tossed approximately 10 overflowing cups of the processed berries with two cups of sugar and a broken-up vanilla bean and then tucked them into the fridge for a rest, so that they could get nice and vanilla-y. The rest I sugared (2 tablespoons sugar for every pound of cleaned and hulled berries) and froze in quart-sized yogurt containers. 

filled jars

I actually left the strawberries in the fridge for nearly two days before I got around to making jam. When it came time to cook the berries down, I fished the vanilla pieces out (squeezing out the vanilla seeds so that the jam was beautifully flecked) and then poured the berries and all the juice they had produced into my 10 quart stainless steel pot (this stuff foams, so give yourself plenty of room).

I added the rest of the sugar and then proceeded to cook the crap out of those berries (that’s the official term) in order to assure a good, jammy set.

saucer test

Of all the jams I’ve made so far this year, this one is my very favorite. There’s something special about strawberry jam and when it’s scented with vanilla and so rich in color, it’s just that much more amazing. Get yourself some strawberries and make this jam. Or, if you don’t feel like making your own batch, I do have one half pint jar to give away. Leave a comment by Friday afternoon for a chance to win.

Strawberry Jam

Yield: Approximately Five Pints


  • 10 cups of chopped strawberries (preferably macerated with a split vanilla bean and two cups of sugar over night)
  • 7 cups of sugar (2 cups during maceration + 5 cups at the time of cooking)
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 packets of liquid pectin (that’s one box total)


  1. Fill your canning pot 2/3 with water and put on the stove to bring to a boil (I used a large stock pot for this much jam).
  2. Put berries, sugar and lemon zest/juice in a large pot and cook over medium high heat for about fifteen minutes. You want to really boil the fruit down so that they begin to look syrup-y. If you have an immersion blender, use it at this point to puree some of the fruit. If you don’t, use a blender to puree about half the jam (working in batches, you don’t want hot jam to splash you).
  3. Add the blended jam back to the whole fruit jam. Bring to a boil and squeeze in the pectin. At this point, there will be a bunch of foam on top of the jam. Skim the foam with a large spoon. Let boil for approximately ten minutes more, until the jam looks very syrup-y (when boiling, it should resemble boiling candy).
  4. Lay out your clean jars, you’ll need approximately five pints or 10 half pint jars. Put your lids in a saucepan of hot water in order to soften the sealing compound. Bring a kettle to a boil now as well, in case you need a bit more boiling water for your canning pot.
  5. Fill the jars. Wipe the rims with the edge of a towel dipped in boiling water. Top with lids and screw on rings. Put a rack or folded towel into the bottom of your canning pot (you don’t want the jars to be in direct contact with the bottom of your pot). Carefully lower the jars into the boiling water. You can stack them one on top of the other if need be.
  6. Process for ten minutes in the boiling water. When time is up, remove the jars from the water and put them on a towel on the counter. They should begin to ping fairly quickly, indicated that they’re sealed. If any of your jars don’t seal, make sure to refrigerate them.

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195 responses to “Strawberry Jam”

  1. Hi Marisa,
    We just moved to China from the US and I have no idea where to get pectin here. Could you please suggest a few substitutes for store bought pectin? I am dying to make some jam. I did try some small batches (don’t know where to buy cans either) of mango pineapple jam (using lemon) and that turned out really good but I did see someone mention in the comments that the lemon killed the flavour of the strawberries. The berries here in Shanghai aren’t super sweet, so I fear the lemon might not do much good 🙁

    • Veena, there’s really nothing that can substitute for pectin. You could try making smaller batches. I wouldn’t suggest skipping the lemons, because their juice actually adds pectin.

      • Nutiva organic Chia Seed. It works great. You can find recipes on the net. I made both strawberry and blue berry. Was great and not overly sweet.

  2. Help! I made this recipe last year – loved the flavor, but the consistency was more sauce-like. Although, it was my first time canning, so I chalked it up to canning novice-ness. Anyway, made 4 batches this week, with about 18lbs of hard picked strawberries, and it still turned out really really runny. I remade about 4 pints of the jam thinking I might need to remake all 22 jars (ugh!). The pectin pkg says it could take up to 2 weeks, so I’ll compare them in a week or so. But, in the meantime, any thoughts? If I just recook it and make sure it hits 220* would that work to gel it up better?

    Also, I used my copy of the recipe from last summer which says 7 cups of sugar (2 w/ the vanilla + 5 more during/at time of cooking).

    • So sorry that your jam was runny! I’ve found that the Certo brand liquid pectin just isn’t as good as it once was, which could be part of the problem. You can always substitute powdered pectin for a better set. Four tablespoons would do the trick.

      • I’m making some of this jam this weekend, and was going to go the powdered pectin route. Do you add powdered at the same time you’d add liquid?

        It occurred to me to wonder in general, what dictates WHEN pectin is added to a jam? It seems like the timing would affect jam set. Some recipes include pectin from the start – even mixed in with the sugar (e.g., your blueberry jam recipe) – while with other recipes, you add pectin right at the end, then strictly time the jam before taking it off the stove (e.g., Ball canning recipes from the packets).

  3. Just wondering if you have any recipes {new to this site :)} that you could use splenda or a generic? Don’t get me wrong I LOVE sugar but it doesn’t love me. 🙁

    • Mandy, I don’t really do much with artificial sweeteners, they’re just not my thing. When I want to make a product that’s lower in sugar, I make a fruit butter instead of a jam. You cook it slowly for a long time, in order to remove the water and concentrate the natural sweetness. If you look at my recipe archive, you’ll find a whole section on fruit butters. My friend Shae did make a sugar-free jam recently using fruit juice as the sweetener. The post is here:

    • Use 3/4 splenda or equal for every 4 cups of berries I am a diabetic also so understand they also have the low sugar no sugar pectin you can use

  4. I love your site. You are truly an inspiration. I found it looking for a “how to” on homemade butter. I’d never considered canning before and I’ve since made the butter and all kinds of jams and pickles…even ketchup. Thanks for the motivation!

  5. I have been making jams,preserves,and butters all summer from not so sellable produce from the grocery store. I was intreiged with using a vanilla bean in the masserating process…… so got me thinking of making some home made pure vanilla extract… long story short bought 5 bourbon vanilla beans to make a first attempt at vanilla extract and did a double batch of your strawberry jam. I didn’t use the lemon and only used 4 cups of sugar, and 2 pouches of liquid pectin…. made 2 half pints and 6 pints with the last pint only 3/4 the way full…. Just pulled them out of the water bath…My BF tells me that I have bottled perfection….. (was hoping that there would be a smig left in the pan to go on an english muffin but alas it wasn’t the case). Hats off to you and your fab recipe.

  6. I have a question. I’m making strawberry jam later this month, but I don’t have any special equipment (about to start law school = no money to buy equipment :(). I making it with my cousin, and we decided that we’d just make enough for ourselves and maybe our families and that we wouldn’t preserve it. Someone suggested we just put it in cleaned mason jars and use it up in about a week. Is that doable? Is it okay to not sterilize/preserve so long as we eat it before it goes moldy? About how long would it be safe to eat? We like the idea of starting out simple without having to worry about the whole complicated preserving process.

    Any tips would be much appreciated. We’re so excited about learning how to make jam, but feeling rather intimidated by the process. Thanks!

    • Rachel, if you’re making moderate amounts of jam, you can definitely skip the boiling water bath step and just refrigerate your full jars. It will last up to a month in the fridge like that.

  7. I run a B&B here on the Eastern Mediterranean Island of Cyprus and have been making my own conserves for a good number of years. People just love the idea of their food being made from home grown produce. I have never used pectin or preserving sugar and have mixed other fruits in as well as vanilla, extract in my case as i can’t find the real thing here, and find that if you use the correct amount of sugar and cook for long enough you get a great consistency of jams/marmalades. My advice is don’t panic just go with the best recipe you can find, a matter of trial and error, and you can even use the errors…mix with yoghurt, add to fruit pies , crumbles…..ooooh endless delicious possibilities.

  8. I used this recipe as the base for a batch of jam this weekend. I skipped the vanilla, substituted limes for lemons (juice from 3 limes, zest from 4.) It was a little more sour than I wanted, so I added an extra cup of sugar. I’m really pleased with the way it turned out! The strawberry flavor is strongest at the beginning, but the lime hits you on the backswing and builds bite after bite. I forgot to skim off the foam, so my jam has some pink frothy spots. Oh well, I’ll remember next time! I have enough strawberries for another batch of jam, and I think I’ll do the vanilla next.

    Your blog has so much inspiration material! Thank you!

  9. When I saw this recipe, I was intrigued because usually jams and jellies have almost double the volume of sugar to fruit, which I find unattractive. It’s amazing that you’re able to reverse the amounts here and still come out with an amazing product. Mine turned a brilliant ruby red and is absolutely delicious. I even saved the skimmed foam and am using that. Thank you so much for making this awesome recipe available to the public! P.S. You pushed me to try something new: I’ve never used the liquid pectin (Certo, in my case) before.

  10. Hi Marissa,

    My strawberries are macerating as I type. I was reading the comment about the runny jam. How can I make mine not so runny? Do I add more sugar?

    • Cathie, I know I’m too late to help, but the best insurance against runny jam is to keep checking the set by monitoring the temperature of the jam and observing the droplets as they fall off a spoon. Adding more sugar won’t do it.

  11. […] this year i was determined to get things right.  i tried a new recipe from food in jars. this strawberry recipe used vanilla beans.  i was intrigued.  and i must say, it is HEAVEN in a jar. if you stop my way, […]

  12. Hi Marissa,

    I made this Jam last year and it ended up really runny. I love the flavor and want to make it again but was wondering if you have any tips to thicken it up? Thanks for being an inspiration!!

  13. […] it does still have to set, after all– but happy.  (And, in case you’re curious, I used this recipe from Food in Jars; a blog that I have followed for almost 2 years but never used a single recipe […]

  14. I made this tonight. It’s amazing. Way too much sugar though. I doubled the amount of berries (20 cups of berries), but used only five cups of sugar. it’s plenty sweet (my berries were picked in NJ and already were like candy!). I also used Pamona’s Pectin instead of the liquid so I could cut the sugar. The vanilla bean adds a nice flavor dimension. Thanks!

  15. […] and went to my jam-guru blog, but alas, found no fig recipes. Check her out anyway. Especially her strawberry vanilla jam recipe, which the Power Rangers call CRACK JAM. I dole it out to them when feeling queenly and […]

  16. This looks great… I have a question about the amount of sugar, though. In your recipe narrative, you said you used two cups of sugar (while macerating the strawberries) and then added five more cups later. But in the recipe at the bottom of the post, you list five cups of sugar and say that it “includes any sugar you added during the maceration step”. So is it a total of seven cups or a total of five? I just don’t want to end up with to little sugar, but don’t want to add more if I don’t need to. My berries are macerating now :). Just want to make sure I get things right. Thanks for the recipe… can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  17. I just finished experimenting with using this as my first jam recipe ever! I tasted the foam and it seemed more like strawberry lemonade instead of strawberry vanilla. Is this okay? I would have figured it would be less lemony. I haven’t made labels so not afraid to call them strawberry lemonade jam if this is the case.

    • It could be that your berries weren’t as sweet as mine. You should be able to taste the lemon, but it shouldn’t be crazily prominent.

  18. I introduced my Wife to PYO last year with Raspberries and she loved it, although maybe a bit sick from eating more than she put in her basket.

    I’ve not thought of using vanilla in strawberry jam But will be trying it later this year.

    Great site will be taking a look at other tips i can get 🙂

  19. I’m sorry for the confusion again about the amount of sugar in this recipe. I saw that you responded to a comment that it was 5 cups total, but I see that the recipe clearly states 7 cups including the maceration?

    I made this jam exactly following these directions and boiling to 220 degrees for the times suggested and had the opposite problem as everyone else, my jam was far too overcooked! It even burnt on the very bottom of my pot. I was quite disappointed. Next time I will have to cook it far less longer.

    • Sara, here’s what happened. Awhile back, I tried to update the recipe to represent how I was currently making it and so I reduced the amount of sugar. However, it ended up confusing people and so I changed it back. It will work as it is written.

      I am sorry to hear that your jam burned. Were you stirring it regularly and moving the jam along the bottom? As it approaches 220 degrees F, you have to stir almost constantly. It could also be that your thermometer isn’t perfectly accurate. Whatever the reason, I am sorry that your jam burned.

      • Thank you so much for your response! I think it was a combination of not enough stirring, as well as overlooking as the jam is a bit gummy. I am going to give it another go today 🙂

        I am happy to see it works with both amounts of sugar, I originally used 7 cups but usually prefer things a bit less sweet (and am trying to be health conscious) so am going to try it with 5 today. Thank you again! Absolutely love your site and again appreciate your response.

  20. I’m new to all this jam making business so I have a perhaps silly question: can I substitute Pomona’s pectin for the liquid pectin in this recipe? Thanks a lot.

  21. My vanilla beans didn’t arrive in time for this (well, they showed the morning after I set the berries to macerating in the fridge) as my first attempt last week ended up very, very firm. I’ll chalk that up to taking the farmers market at their word that the quart was truly a quart without weighing (using the recipe published in the your first book). Wondering what to do, I remembered I have, at times, sprinkled anisette sugar on my cut berries. I excitedly stuck 3 star anise in the with berries…….the result is heavenly! It’s the perfect combination of strawberry goodness with a hint of licorice! I cannot wait to spoon this into my morning yogurt!

  22. Hi going to try this jam today but every where I look vanilla bean is so outrageous! Can I substitute with pure vanilla extract and if so how much of it? 🙂

    • I would recommend substituting some other flavor enhancer rather than using vanilla extract. The flavor will cook off and leave you with nothing.

  23. I made this recipe a few weeks ago, and while the taste is great, it did not set properly (it’s more like a syrup). I’m going to try to fix it, but may leave some as syrup to use in drinks or for breakfast syrup.

  24. HELP! I have made this jam before with the best results, but just realized that the batch I’m currently about to start cooking may have less sugar than was called for in the recipe. I’m not sure how much less, do I need to toss it and start over? Do I need to adjust the pectin? Help! And thank you.

  25. I just finished my first batch of this jam … It’s very good, but I really don’t taste or smell the vanilla bean. Maybe add two beans instead of only one? Either way, it’s a keeper! Thank you for posting!

  26. I just made a double batch of this strawberry jam. The ratio of sugar to fruit and 1/4 cup lemon juice and zest from a Meyer lemon produced a wonderful frest and bright flavor without being overly sweet. This was only the 2nd time I’ve made strawberry jam. I didn’t have a vanilla bean, but would like to add that next time. I also didn’t use an immersion blender. I prefer to cut the berries and as they are cooking, mash with a potatoe masher. Putting a folded towel in the bottom of the pan for processing is brilliant. I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

  27. Made this jam this morning with some spectacular organic strawberries. The set is perfect & the taste divine. Thanks for the great recipe as always!

  28. I just wanted to say that I come back to this recipe every year, thank you! One of these years, I’ll remember to write/print it out. Until then, don’t take it down 😉

  29. Mine did not set correctly and it tasted over cooked. I wanted to like it, but I think I’ll just stick with plain strawberry jam in the future. I think the recipe could be a little more explicit about the boiling for those of us who aren’t candy makers but are canners. Was it supposed to be a full rolling boil from ten minutes? There is no way I can handle that amount of heat for that long! It will be a good syrup though!

  30. mine did not set correctly. my friend recommended the blog because she uses the book but we noticed while we were making it that there were no temperatures. I also noticed the certo says not to do more than 8 cups. any ideas what or why this happened? I followed directions to a T.

  31. What’s the Sugar Syrup method for freezing strawberries? I tried to click the link to the Doris & Jilly blog but the domain is expired ????

    • Essentially, it’s a process in which you toss cut clean, hulled berries with sugar (I like to use 1-2 tablespoons per pound of berries), let them sit until the sugar dissolves, and there’s some liquid. Then pack into containers and freeze.

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