Strawberry season is in full swing in southern California. I nabbed 4 pints of beautiful strawberries at the grocery store this week for $1/pint! And they’re from Watsonville, which I just learned, is just up the coast (okay, a ways up the coast) from us. Hooray, California!
I was talking with my friend Nebraska about canning because I really wanted to make strawberry jam (I even bought friendly little jars and a canning funnel when we first moved to CA) but how scared I was of botulism and messing up. She sent me her recipe for strawberry jam, which is very reassuring for someone who has never canned before. Who knew that highly acidic foods only need to be “water bath” canned instead of pressure cooked?
But I was feeling lazy and tired after a day at the beach, so I decided to use a recipe for “refrigerator jam,” called such because it’s not actually canned or shelf stable, but made to live in your fridge for a couple weeks until it gets gobbled up.
I didn’t end up using pectin, though I have some on hand, and I didn’t want to use as much sugar as most recipes call for, so I searched until I found one that sounded reasonable, and then modified it slightly.
Refrigerator Strawberry Jam (modified from theKitchn’s recipe)
Wash and core ~6 cups of strawberries
Combine in a heavy saucepan with the zest of one lemon + 1/4 cup lemon juice (just because I had extra juice on hand), cook over medium heat, mushing the strawberries as you go. I started with a wooden spoon but switched to a potato masher because they’re made for mashing.
Cook for ~30 mins til the strawberries are mushy and your jam has thickened some (mine was quite watery after only cooking the few minutes most recipes call for). In the meantime, boil your lids (I use the 2 piece kind) in water and oven your clean jars at 175 degrees to kill any germies.
Transfer jars to a workspace (not your stove, something that can take a spill), funnel your jam into the jars, put on the lids, let cool, then fridge.
Apparently this can live in the fridge for a couple weeks if you keep it clean (utensils only; no digging in with toast, fingers, etc).
Nearly all the recipes I found said to cook for only a few minutes. I didn’t chop my strawberries beforehand, though, so I cooked them until they were mushy enough for my liking. Also, I wanted my jam to be thicker. It was super watery after the initial cooking, but thickened up nicely in half an hour.
I can’t wait to try it! While it’s cooling, I’m dreaming up all the things we can ladle this jam onto. Toast, goat cheese bruschettas, angel food cake, pancakes, crepes….