Preserving Know-how/ Preserving Recipes/ Summer

Giving Strawberry Jam a Pectin Boost

Strawberries and Apple

When plump strawberries appear, it means summer is here and jam-making is underway! There is no doubt strawberry jam is a favorite and there are countless recipes for “my favorite” strawberry jam. Some prefer traditional long-boil methods, and others prefer to use commercial pectin. There are many ways to approach strawberry jam but let’s look at how to boost pectin content without commercial pectin.

Strawberries are low in pectin which is, of course, responsible for the setting of the jam. The first consideration for boosting pectin is to have ‘just-ripe’ berries which contain the highest levels of pectin. It is not advisable to buy “jam grade” berries as pectin levels dramatically drop in over-ripe berries. So, aim for nicely ripe berries.

If you are a fan of making jams without commercial pectin, the long-boil method is appealing. This means crushed fruit is combined with sugar and lemon juice and boiled until it reaches the set point. The long-boil method is traditional, but the downside is that it requires a lot of fruit, and the long cooking period diminishes the fresh taste of the berries. But there is a way to boost pectin, lower the cooking time and improve the fresh taste and texture of strawberry jam!

Test Kitchens of America provides a recipe that enhances pectin by adding grated Granny Smith apple which is naturally high in pectin. The grated fruit is undetectable in the jam, but it speeds up cooking time and helps to create a nice structure. It still takes a lot of fruit compared to the amount used for recipes with commercial pectin, but if you want to avoid commercial pectin this is a good way of keeping tradition, lowing sugar, and improving taste.

Strawberry Jam with a Pectin Boost

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Boosting the pectin in your strawberry jam can be done naturally. First, choosing the right fruit and second by adding a higher pectin fruit like grated Granny Smith apple. It’s tradition with a twist!


  • 3 pounds just-ripe strawberries (10 cups) crushed
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups peeled, grated Granny Smith apple
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice (bottled)



Put 2 saucers in the freezer to check set point after cooking.


Crush fruit and measure. Place fruit in a large pot/Dutch oven with sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil stirring. Boil for about 20 to 25 minutes.


Check temperature with an instant read or candy thermometer. It should reach about 217. Put a teaspoon on the frozen saucer and wait one minute. Then check the set by running your finger through the jam. If it leaves a clear path, the jam is ready. If not, continue cooking for 1-3 minutes. Check again.


Once the set is achieved, skim and ladle jam into 4 250ml hot jars. Clean the rim and attach lids and rings to “finger-tip” tight. Process jars in a water-bath or atmospheric steam canner for 10 minutes adjusting for altitude.

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