Fresh strawberries are one of the first bright signs that warm and sunny weather is on its way. The recipe below uses natural pectin from fruits (instead of store-bought pectin) and we lowered the sugar by over one cup versus traditional strawberry jam.

This recipe has two parts. The first part is making the pectin using tart apples and a lemon. The second part is combining the pectin you’ve made with the strawberries. It is slightly more involved than using commercially-prepared pectin, however it is still quite easy to make and the results are incredible.

This recipe was originally created for

Preservation method: Water bath canning

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate

Yield: Makes about 8 8-ounce jars

Strawberry Jam

5 tart apples such as Granny Smith, stem and blossom ends removed, chopped coarsely, cores intact

1 lemon or lime (unpeeled and finely chopped)


8 cups hulled strawberries, cut in half

5 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean (optional), split and scraped. Use scraped pulp for recipe

You will need clean jars and closures, a boiling-water canner, rack, jar lifter, canning funnel, wooden skewer, and a fine sieve

Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner, then place empty jars on the rack. Add water to the jars and the canner until the jars are about two-thirds full. Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place lids in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil. Keep lids hot until ready to use.

In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine apples, lemon, and enough water to prevent sticking. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, partially cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, until mixture is very soft. Working in batches, transfer mixture to a fine sieve. With back of a spoon, press mixture through sieve to yield two cups applesauce. Discard skins and cores.

Apples with stems and blossoms removed

Rich, homemade pectin

In a clean, large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine applesauce, strawberries and sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and mounds on a spoon, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla if using, and skim off foam.

Jam is set and ready for jars when it mounds on a spoon

Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼” headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary. Wipe rim, center lid on jar. Screw band down until finger-tip tight.

Place jars in canner. When all jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least one inch. Cover the canner with a lid and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, begin counting the processing time of 10 minutes.

Once full time is complete, turn off heat and let jars sit in canner an additional five minutes (this standing time allows the pressure inside the jars to stabilize and reduces the likelihood of liquid loss that could otherwise occur when the jars are removed.)

Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel-lined space. The towel will help reduce the chance of jar breakage. Do not dry the lids or jars at this point. You do not want to disturb the lids while the seals are being formed. Allow jars to cool for 24 hours before removing bands and wiping down jars. Date jars and store in a cool dry place for up to one year.

Recipe modified from the cookbook “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving”.