60 min
about 3 8-oz jars
When you don’t have much fruit – or don’t have much time – make a small batch of jam: it goes together easily. The berries stand with the sugar while you get the jars ready, and then the jam is finished, and canned, within 60 minutes. Makes 3 8-oz jars plus a bit for tomorrow’s breakfast.
  • 1 quart strawberries, quartered and packed (about 4 cups)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon unsalted butter (optional, reduces foaming

A small batch of strawberry jam goes together so quickly! Start with the berries: rinse them well, hull them, and cut them into quarters. Put them in a heavy-bottomed pot. (I used my favorite 4 qt pot, which was perfect for the task.) Add the sugar and lemon juice, then stir well, cover with a clean tea towel, and let stand for an hour or so to bring the juice out of the berries. (You can actually let them stand, covered, in the refrigerator overnight, if you need to.)

Now prep one more jars than you’ll think you need. Put 4 clean 8-oz jars in a pot, cover them with water, and bring the pot to a boil. Boil the jars for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the jars stand. Wash the lids in warm sudsy water, then rinse and set aside with the bands. Put a saucer or small plate in your freezer to chill (this will be for testing doneness.) Have an extra small jar, or custard cup, clean and ready for any excess.

When you’re ready for the cooking – you’ll need 60 minutes, no more – add a tiny pat of butter and bring to a boil.

Continue boiling the jam, stirring occasionally. Now you’ll make your choice about the set of the jam: do you prefer a loose set, a bit runny, or a very stiff one, that won’t fall off the spoon? A loose set jam will barely pass a wrinkle test, while a stiff set is cooked a bit more.

Now you’ll have some choices to make: do you prefer your jam smooth like a fruit butter, or with slices of berries like traditional preserves? For smooth jam: When the fruit is cooked all soft and tender, remove the pot from the heat, and whiz with an immersion blender, to make a smooth puree. For traditional jam: don’t bother with this step.

Remove from heat. Ladle jam into prepared jars, wipe rims, and apply lids and bands. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Cool jars, label, and store in a dark cool place.

Anything that won’t fit in your four jars can go into the clean custard cup – chill it in the fridge, this is perfect with yogurt or on toast for breakfast!

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