Quick and Easy Strawberry Jam

How to make a single jar of strawberry jam without pectin, in less than 30 minutes. #jam @mjskitchen mjskitchen.com

How this Quick & Easy Strawberry Jam evolved.

My mother jammed, jellied, preserved or pickled everything from peaches to watermelon rinds, cucumbers to okra.  Fortunately, I paid attention and learned.  Along with learning the techniques of canning, I also developed a love for canning and preserving.  I think preserving your own food is something that you really need to enjoy because it can be time consuming and tedious, depending on what you are canning.  Most times you have to be able to enjoy spending the whole day in a hot kitchen, working over a stovetop that has at least one burner going continuously (keeping the jars hot), peeling, squeezing, cooking, stirring, and canning until all of the fruit or vegetables have been processed.  It’s so much fun!  Really!  Of course a NCIS marathon to keep you company doesn’t hurt.

Well – now that I’m older, gone are these all day jamming sessions. Now when I have a few berries that need to be used or are too under-ripe and bland to go in cereal, I just make a single jar of jam. In this house one jar doesn’t last very long, but then it doesn’t take long to make either.  The recipe below is for a quick and easy strawberry jam that does not use pectin.  Be sure to read the Kitchen Notes for more information about making jam without pectin.



Quick and Easy Strawberry Jam Recipe

Before starting you might want to review my Kitchen Notes on Making Q&E Jams

Recipe author:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen

Yield: about 1 pint*
Prep and cook time:  30 minutes

Note:  This is a refrigerator jam and not intended to be sealed and stored in the pantry. All you need is a very clean jar. Once the jam has cooked to consistency, pour into jar, let cool and refrigerate.


16 ounces (2 cups) chopped strawberries*
2 Tbsp. water
8 ounces (1 cup) sugar
juice from half a lemon
*For this batch I used under-ripe berries therefore, I chopped them rather than mashed them.  We like having little pieces of sweet berries in our jam.  If the berries are over-ripe, you can mash them or pulse them a few times in a blender.


  1. If you aren’t planning on using temperature to know when the jam is ready to pour, then place a small saucer in the freezer.
  2. Remove the tops and chop the strawberries into little pieces.
  3. Add berries to a sauce pan with the water and heat on low.
  4. Measure the sugar and add to the sauce pan. Stir frequently until the sugar has melted.
  5. Increase the heat to medium and add the lemon juice. Bring the jam to a boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Bring the jam to a full boil, stirring constantly. A full boil is a boil that cannot be stirred down.  (You might need to increase the burner setting to medium-high  in order to maintain a full boil.)
  7. Stir constantly at a full boil for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes test the jam.  There are two ways to test:
    1. If the jam sheets from a metal spoon (droplets flow together), it’s very close if not ready.  Pull the saucer from the freezer and place a drop or two of jam onto the saucer.  If it spreads out, the jam’s not done.  Return the saucer to the freezer, continue to stir the boiling jam, and try again in 2 minutes.  The jam is done when a drop does not spread out but retains its shape.
    2. Using a candy thermometer, boil the jam, stirring constantly, to a temperature of 205° F (96° C) to 210° F (99° C), depending on your elevation and how firm you like your jam.  (I sometimes use both tests- temperature and cold saucer test- just to make sure.  Eventually, you get a good feel for when it’s ready.)  (NOTE:  The temperature I use is recommended for an elevation of 5000 ft. If you live lower or higher in elevation, check the information at the link provided.)
    3. It usually takes about 12 to 14 minutes for this amount of jam to be ready.
  8. Remove from the heat and pour into a clean, hot pint jar.  Let cool, then refrigerate.  Jam will keep in the refrigerator until you finish it off, which doesn’t take long.

*To ensure you get 1 full pint, increase the fruit to 3 cups, the sugar to 1 1/2 cups and use the juice from a whole lemon.  You will need to increase the cook time as well. This much jam could take 16 to possibly 20 minutes to cook down. Just keep checking it.


Kitchen Notes

  • A minty strawberry jam – Add 3 sprigs of fresh mint to the jam after the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the sprigs (and discard) once the jam comes to a boil.
  • Since this recipe doesn’t add pectin (except with the lemon juice) and strawberries are relatively low in pectin, there are a few variables that can affect the outcome – one of them being the ripeness of the fruit.  The pectin content of a fruit decreases as the fruit ripens making this a good recipe for strawberries that were picked before their time.
  • Another variable is the temperature that it’s cooked over.  The higher the flame, the harder the boil, and the faster the evaporation of the liquid.  You want a full boil that is well under control with a gentle stir.  If you feel like you’re whipping egg whites to keep it under control at first, then the heat is way too high.
  • The standard maximum cooking temperature for jams is a temperature of 220° F (104° C) at sea level; however, as you go up in altitude, this temperature lowers.  The rule of thumb is to subtract 1ºF for every 500 ft. increase in altitude.  Since I live right at a mile high (5820 ft), my jams are ready when they reach 210ºF.  If you let the temperature get too high or allow too much liquid to evaporate, you’ll get a “stiff” or “stringy” jam that will be hard to spread. If this ever happens, don’t throw the jam out.  Add it a quick bread or knead it into a yeast bread.
  • Be sure to stir constantly once the jam comes to a rolling boil.  Infrequent stirring can result in a stiff jam or a messy stovetop due to a boil over.
  • For a smaller or a little larger batch, just keep the weight ratio of fruit to sugar as 2 to 1 and the water and lemon amounts the same.
  • You can spice up the jam with a little cinnamon, ginger, lime juice or other flavors that you like with strawberries.
  • You can use this same recipe to make jam from many types of fruits: blueberries, blackberries, mango, peach, apricot, any of your favorite fruits.  Experiment and have fun!

If you’ve seen my “About” page, you know that we had lots of fruit trees which kept us plenty busy for many years.  When our trees finally died out, I would bum fruit from friends who had fruit trees or vines.  As a result, Bobby and I always had several jars of homemade jelly or jam in the pantry.  Then – a terrible thing happened.  In 2008 we ran out!  I thought Bobby was going to have a heart attack when he went to the pantry and couldn’t find a jar of jam for his PB&J.  It had been at least 2 years since I had put up any jars of sweet wonderful jam, and between eating it and giving it away, we ran out.  So we had to do something that we hadn’t done in years, if ever – we had to BUY jam.  That was a very difficult thing to do but we only had to do it a couple of times.

Once I tasted how utterly sweet store bought jam was,  I started testing out jamming methods that didn’t require pounds of fruit and sugar, and hours of work.  Whenever I had a few pieces of fruit that we could spare, into the pot they went.  It took a few tries to get the right proportion of berries to sugar and a process that yielded the consistency we like, but the effort was well worth it.   No more boiling huge pots of water to sterilize jars, no more stirring batch after batch of boiling fruit and sugar, and no more trashing the kitchen with sticky surfaces and lots and lots of dirty dishes.  But most importantly – no more standing on my old feet for 8 to 10 hours straight!   Life is good.  Now I make really tasty homemade jam on an as needed basis- one jar at a time.  So what to do with all those empty jelly jars?  I’m sure I’ll find something to do with them.

If you like my Strawberry Jam, then check out my other quick and easy jams:

Apricot Jam
Mixed Berry Jam

Raspberry Mole’ Jam
Red Chile Strawberry Jam

Tomato Red Chile Jam
Cherry Jam

This Quick and Easy Strawberry Jam has been added to the following blog hops. Be sure to click on the links to see a variety of tasty recipes! Hearth and Soul Hop, Tuesday’s Tasty Tidbits, Frugal Food Thursday, A Southern Fairy Tale Hop, Katherine Martinelli’s Strawberry Hop, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Berries Hop


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37 Responses to “Quick and Easy Strawberry Jam”

  1. Kay July 19, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Can’t wait to try this small batch recipe that my daughter just turned me on to. Here’s a hint for folks whose jam turns out runny. It’s not jam! It’s strawberry sauce! Or blueberry sauce, etc. Dribble over angel food cake, pound cake, cheesecake, ice cream, strain some over ice and fill the glass with soda water. I think I may try it in a cocktail that involves umbrellas and can be served by cabana persons.

    A friend of mine served my “runny” jam over a cheese cake at a dinner party. Time passed and his party guests began to disappear. He found them in the kitchen passing the jar and eating my runny jam with spoons. Now he pesters me for runny jam every season.

    • mj July 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Kay, Thanks so much for your comment!!! What a great idea to drizzle the jam over cheesecake! I love it! I’ve drizzled it over ice cream for a delicious little treat and a friend of mine spread it inside a crepe and topping it whipped cream. I’ve never made a soda from it. Might just have to try that one because who doesn’t love a drink with a umbrella: 🙂 Thanks again and hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

  2. Indirect Libre July 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Thanks for the recipe! It was really tricky to find a good recipe for a single batch of jam, but strawberries are in season and I’m hosting a brunch tomorrow so I’m really looking forward to trying this out!

    • mj July 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

      Thanks! I hope you and your guests enjoy!

  3. Abbie May 17, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Would this work with blackberries?

    • mj May 18, 2013 at 1:50 am #

      Absolutely! Because blackberries don’t cook down like the strawberries, I would probably put them in a blender and pulse a couple of times to break them up a little. Otherwise, the blackberries will remain in tact and you’ll have large berries in your jam, which you might actually like. Please let me know how it turns out!

  4. Gina May 7, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    I had a problem with the recipe. My jam yield came up short. My Pint size Mason jar was only six-eighths full. After adding the strawberry jam in the jar I decided to continue with the sterilzation process of putting the jar into boiling water for ten minutes then allowed it to cool.

    Only problem is that their was condensation inside the jar. Is that normal? Or is that just because I did not have enough jam to fill it.

    • mj May 7, 2013 at 3:31 am #

      Gina, thanks for contacting me about questions on this recipe! I greatly appreciate it. In reference to it being a little short of a pint – that’s very possible. A few variables that could cause this is weighing vs. measuring – weighing is more exact but still doesn’t guarantee a full pint, the ripeness of the strawberries (overripe strawberries will cook down more yielding less), and the cook time. The longer you cook it, the more it cooks down decreasing yield. Because this is a single jar process, the 1 pint is not “exact”. But that’s o.k., because this jam does not get sealed. Once cooked and cooled, it goes straight into the refrigerator and is ready to eat. No sterilization process is needed. The condensation that you see inside the jar is probably due to the jar not being full and having put it in a water bath. At this point, I would just put it in the fridge and enjoy! I hope this information helps! Please let me know if you have any more questions. Thanks again!

  5. Javelin Warrior February 19, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    I learned so much reading this recipe, MJ! I’d never heard about the drops of jam on a frozen saucer before. And I love how I don’t need to buy a packet of pectin to add to the jam to set it… This is awesome and I’m so glad you shared!

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      Thanks Mark!!! I so glad you learned something! As a teacher, that’s one of the nicest compliments one can give. 🙂 This is the only method I use to make jam anymore. We don’t need multiple jars in the pantry anymore. I just make a jar as we need it and put it in the fridge. It’s great!

  6. Crystal October 14, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    I didnt measure my strawberries. Pretty sure I had way too many, as my jam turned out really runny.

    • mj October 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      Crystal, thanks so contacting me. I’m sorry that your jam turned out runny. It could have been for a few different reasons, the first one being that you didn’t measure. 🙂 I can certainly relate! Measuring is hard for me, but with jam, you really do need to get the proportions correct. Sounds like you had a high ratio of strawberries to sugar. If you want to try saving the jam, reheat it, add at least 1/4 cup more sugar and bring back to a rolling boil. Continue to boil, stirring until it thickens. Retest and go from there. It should be savable. Let me know if this works.

  7. Kristi Rimkus July 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your recipe on my blog hop. A single recipe for jam is perfect for my family since there’s just two of us now. I’ll give this a try with other fruits too. Right now I have a ton of blueberries that go bad far too quickly.

  8. mj July 5, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Thanks Mrs. Robinson! Of course, you know I’m thinking of The Graduate right now. 🙂 Anyway, I’m so glad you made this jam and liked it! As far as keeping it in a cold store cupboard, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, opened or unsealed jars of homemade jar should be stored at 40 F (4 C) or lower. If you happened to have used a fresh lid and it sealed (which does happen for me at times), you can store it in a dark cupboard between 50 – 70 F (10 – 21 C) until you open it. (Here’s a link for more information about jam storage: http://nchfp.uga.edu/questions/FAQ_jellied.html) Thanks again! Just a FYI – I posted a quick and easy Apricot Jam last week. Thanks again for your comments!

  9. mrs robinson July 5, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Hi enjoyed making your recipe for strawberry jam, very tasy,
    you say in your recipe to refridgerate when cool, can the made jam be keeped in a cold sore cupboard, and for how long pls.

  10. Teddys Mom June 25, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    This recipe looks so much easier and less daunting than some of the other “canning” ones I have seen. I can’t wait to try and report back. Laura from AZ 🙂

    • mj June 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Thanks Laura! I hope you do try it and it works for you. It SO easy to just pop out one jar of jam! Have a great day!

  11. Susan with Permanent Posies March 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    This made me so happy! I lived on a farm when I was young and grew all my veggies….canned….froze….for the year. But I never had to make jam. That was my mother-in-laws passion and I gleaned the blessings. This past year, however, I made pear jam and peach jam. I fell in love with the process. I just didn’t think about making one jar! I can’t tell you how many times I had just enough fruit for only one jar. I am going to do that next time. I am pinning this. Thanks for stopping by Tuesday’s Tasty Tidbits. Love your blog, girl.

    • mj June 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Hey Susan, I hope this one jar at time process worked for you! I’m hooked on it.

  12. April @ The 21st Century Housewife December 26, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    This sounds like a lovely jam. I like the idea of adding the mint too. Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  13. Elsa December 21, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    I didn’t realize jam would last so long in the fridge… but you’re right, we would probably finish it off pretty fast. 🙂 I always buy organic jam from the store for my toddler but it’s kind of expensive… especially since she loves jam. I think this will definitely save some money.

    • mj December 21, 2011 at 8:20 am #

      For us it definitely saves money and reduces waste. We love berries and if I buy big batches we can’t eat them all before they go bad, so I’ll make some mixed berry jam with some of each berry and that way, they all get used. Thanks so much for dropping by!

  14. VE December 18, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    OK, I really dig the idea of making one small batch at a time. Never tried making jam, I’ll have to do something about that, sounds reasonably easy to do.

  15. balvinder December 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Wow! so easy. I love your way of explaining things with important instructions and some kitchen notes. This is very informative for new foodies like me.

  16. Katherine Martinelli December 4, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    This is such a wonderful recipe!! So simple and a wonderful way to preserve fruits.

  17. Ramona December 3, 2011 at 5:40 am #

    What a perfectly wonderful recipe!! I love that you used just simple ingredients. I don’t have to go get pectin or anything. I love the saucer in the freezer method too. I was sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what that was all about in the beginning. LOL! I will definitely give this one a go because my kids and I love strawberry jam. 🙂

  18. Nads April 26, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Talk about taking a guilty pleasure to the extreme – I sliced up some fresh strawberries and tossed them with a tablespoon of the jam – just enough to coat the berries evenly. I piled these on a slice of angel food cake and then added a dollop of lite cool whip. OMG! heavenly! You could use other kinds of cake and can you imagine this on a hot waffle.

  19. Nads April 22, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    First try didn’t turn out too bad. It is delicious. The boys love it. I had enough berries to double the recipe but I only ended up with a pint and a half. I couldn’t tell with the saucer trick whether it was running or not. It all seemed to. Now it’s really thick and sticky, Since I can’t stand up that long, I may have lost track of time and let it boil too long. Obviously it cooked too long or maybe too small a lemon. Would that matter? I’ll do better next time. Berries are on sale cheap here right now and with the son home soon we will go through a lot of jam.

    • mj April 22, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

      So glad it was delicious! I love this jam! Sorry it turned out thick and especially ‘sticky’. I would say it boiled too long. The amount of lemon shouldn’t matter. It’s mostly to help to balance the sweet with a little acid and to maintain color. Next time try a single batch (12 to 8 ounces of fruit to sugar). Once it starts to boil, it should be ready in less than 15 minutes. Mine usually takes 12 to 13 minutes. You might time it and if the consistency is what you like, then just use time as your criterion. If it’s too soft, add another minute next time. Let me know how the next batch turns out. BTW – I do have more consistent luck with the single batches.

      • Nads April 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

        Now that it is in the jar and cooled down it is neither thick nor sticky. Just yummmy!

        • mj April 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm #



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