After some research I learned about Pomona’s Universal Pectin. This may end up smacking of an infomercial but it was life changing for me in a canning way. This pectin (the substance that causes the jam to gel) provides you can use honey as a sweetener or far less sugar than any other pectins (as well as other sugar substitutes) I’ve found. I was hooked. I’ve made many jams and jellies with this pectin using minimal honey with great success. It DOES taste like the fruit only. There have been some cases, making a jam of wild Raspberries and wild Rhubarb for instance, where sugar was the right taste for the jam and I’ve used the minimal recommended amount with no heavy sugar taste.
Since I made this jam using Pomona’s Universal Pectin I am replicating their instructions for the jam. The pectin is available at many stores and can also be purchased from online. The recipe insert in the pectin box allows for a variety of sweeteners like Splenda, fructose, xylitol as well. Using sugar also preserves color so when making jam with alternative sweeteners the berry color may not be as brillian in hue.
- 4 cups mashed strawberries (hulled, stems removed)
- ¾ cups organic sugar*
- 2 teaspoon Pomona’s pectin powder
- 2 teaspoons calcium water (comes with the Pomona’s Universal Pectin; you mix at home with water before starting this recipe per the package instructions)
- If canning, begin to heat water canner, pans with cleaned jars and lids and rings. I do this in three pans. The water canner takes longest to boil due to water volume and I like that to be close to a boil then starting to cook the fruit. The pan with rings and lids does not need to boil but be just under a boil. The pan with the jars should boil and be kept in hot water until filled.
- Add strawberries to a large pan. I mash mine with a potato masher in the pan having hulled and de-stemmed them already.
- Add the calcium water and stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl combine the sugar and pectin. *Note on sugar amount: I prefer to use the absolute minimum. This recipe can use up to 2 cups of sugar. If you enjoy a sweeter jam or have berries that might not be fully sweet, feel free to add more to suit your taste. I’d recommend beginning with the specified amount (3/4 cups), taste and add more if you like to suit your taste. If desiring to use honey: use ½ to 1 cup.
- Bring the strawberries to a boil. Add the sugar-pectin mixture and stir constantly for 2 minutes to dissolve. Allow strawberries to return to a boil (they will almost instantly) and remove from heat. The jelling will occur when the jam is cooled.
- Remove jars from hot water. Fill leaving ¼ inch head space (the room at the top between the fruit and top of the jar required for a good seal when canning). Wipe the top of the jar to ensure nothing between the lid and the jar for a good seal. Add the ring to secure the lid. Do not over tighten the ring.
- Place jars in a water canner with at least an inch of water above the top of the jars. Process for 10 minutes adding 1 minute per every 1,000 over sea level. I process mine in Boulder for 15 minutes.
- Remove jars onto a cooling rack. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Test the seal by pressing on the center of the lid which should be sucked in. You will hear a ‘pop’ when the seal happens after removing from the water canner. Don’t worry if you miss it just check to ensure it has happened as the jars cool.