Springtime in Britain is synonymous with strawberries. As the season comes to a close, it is once again time for preserving the beautiful bright berries. With my small batch strawberry jam, preserving some strawberry jam is super quick and easy! The best bit is that this recipe makes one jar, so is low storage commitment and can be thrown together in a regular sized saucepan.
Small Batch Benefits
So many jam recipes will make for a full day of canning. They require a large, deep pot, a full supply of sugar, considerable patience and several spare jars. This can be useful if you're looking to stock up thoroughly or give jars of jam as gifts. But, if you're looking for a quick fruity treat, which can be ready in an hour for an afternoon tea party, small batch jam is the way to go!
My recipe makes a little more than 1 cup of jam, which will mostly fit into an 8oz (240mL) jar, with a little excess.
Jam Making Tips
1. Chopping fruit for jam
As you'll be heating the mixture to release the juices, chopping your fruit isn't strictly necessary, but will make the process easier. I quarter my strawberries, as I prefer small bits in my jam over larger chunks. As the mixture cooks, I also like to mash my fruit with a fork to help break these down further.
2. Do I need pectin?
Pectin is a naturally occurring fiber that is essential for the gelling of jams. Some fruits have enough pectin on their own to gel without the addition of extra pectin powder. Unfortunately, strawberries do not have a high level of pectin and will need the help!
Citrus fruits have a large amount of natural pectin, so you will find many recipes suggesting lemon juice be added, both for the pectin and also the zesty freshness. In my recipe, I have opted for orange juice as the flavour pairs nicely with the strawberry.
I find the bit of citrus, isn't quite enough to produce a thick jam. To be on the safe side, I've also added a teaspoon of pectin. In the UK, you could also avoid using plain pectin, by using Jam Sugar (which is caster sugar with added pectin pre-mixed). To make this substitution, simply use the Jam Sugar in place of the caster sugar and leave out the teaspoon of pectin.
Alternatively, if you're happy for more of a sauce than a jam, you can leave out the pectin altogether - the flavour will still be great but the mixture may not reach a stable consistency.
3. How much sugar do you need for jam?
The quickest and easiest ratio to make jam is 1:1 - equal weights of fruit and sugar. This does depend a bit on the sweetness and natural pectin in your fruits, but when in doubt, a 1:1 ratio will stand you in good stead.
4. Jam temperature
For jam making, your mixture will need to reach a certain temperature to activate the gelling process. This is usually listed as 225F (or 107C). The easiest way to measure this is with a candy thermometer or an instant read food thermometer.
If you don't have a thermometer, you could also use the freezer plate test.
- When you start out your jam, place a small plate in the freezer.
- Once your mixture has been boiling and thickening for a little while, place a small bit on the cold plate and place back in the freezer for about 30 seconds.
- After 30 seconds, if you are able to nudge the jam with your finger and it wrinkles, then the mixture is ready. If it is still liquidy and/or stays smooth, then it is not yet gelled.
5. Quick cooling for small batch jam
With small batches of jam, such as this, you can cool the mixture quickly using a shallow baking dish. The wider surface area allows for quicker cooling. After about half an hour, the mixture can be stirred and added to a bowl or jar for keeping in the fridge for use over a few weeks.
If you are intending to seal your jam into the jar to preserve for several months, do not use this quick cooling process and instead pour the hot mixture directly into your sterilized jar for sealing.
FAQs for my Small Batch Strawberry Jam
You can keep this jam in the refrigerator in an air tight container or jar for several weeks. If you would like to preserve the jar for longer, you will need to follow proper processes for sterilizing the jar before adding the jam and then sealing this in a water bath. If preserved in this way, the jam can last for several months as long as the seal is unbroken.
Yes, absolutely, the beauty of jam is that it is all about the ratios! You can easily double or even halve this recipe dependent on the amount of fruit you are looking to preserve.
Yes - frozen berries are a great alternative to fresh for jam making. They will break down quicker than fresh when cooking and they do not require defrosting first (though it may take a bit longer to bring the temperature up to 225F/107C).
If you like this recipe, you may also like:
- 2 cups strawberries
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pectin
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- Chop the strawberries into halves or quarters and add to a saucepan along with the sugar, pectin and orange juice.
- Over a medium heat, stir and occasionally mash the strawberries as the fruits begin to break down and release their juices.
- Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is at a boil, raise the heat to medium high and continue to boil until the mixture reaches approximately 225°F (107C).
- Remove from the heat and bowl into a prepared jar to cool and set.