Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe
Did you know you can make jam in the pressure cooker? Its true, and its quicker and easier than traditional jam-making – no thermometers! For those living at altitude, making pressure cooker jam may be the answer to the problem of getting jam up to the set temperature. This is a no pectin recipe (that is, it relies solely on the naturally occurring pectin within the fruit, it is free of added pectin). This recipe is also intended as freezer jam: its yield is large enough that you can both eat some straight away, and freeze some for later use, and small enough that canning is unnecessary. My family has tried a number of variations, and we always go back to this basic recipe, with the purest, strongest strawberry taste, the bare minimum of ingredients, and without any extracts or additional flavors to distract from the pure strawberry flavor.
JAM MAKING TIP: I’ve included a range in the weight of sugar to use in the jam recipe because tastes vary, some have more of a sweet tooth than others. Using the smallest amount of sugar will still be sweet, but will have the most intense strawberry flavor. Using a full pound of sugar will make your jam even sweeter, and it will increase the amount of jam created, but I personally find it dilutes intensity of the fruit’s flavor a little. I suggest you make one batch with the smallest amount of sugar, taste it and see how you like it, then adjust accordingly for future batches.
1 lb. (450 grams) strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 /2 to 1 lb. (225 to 450 grams) granulated sugar
1 navel orange
1 tbs. butter (optional, vegans can omit)
Electric Pressure Cooker
12″ Silicone Tipped Tongs
Bowl to macerate fruit and sugar
Potato masher, blender or food processor
Long handled rubber or silicone spatula
JAM MAKING TIP: Your jam will be more consistent from batch to batch if you measure your fruit and sugar by weight, rather than volume, so I’ve written my jam recipes that way. If you don’t already have a good scale, I can recommend the UltraShip Postal Shipping / Kitchen Scale. Not only have I owned and used one for many years now, but I used to sell this brand when I was an eBay powerseller. It’s a great brand, very accurate (far more accurate than most kitchen scales), it stays accurate, its easy to use, its got a nice big digital readout, and you can easily switch the display from reading weight in pounds and ounces to grams. Its also versatile enough that you can use it to weigh out a small amount of yeast, or a prime rib, and you can use it as a postal / shipping scale, too.
- For fresh fruit, remove the stems and any damaged areas. Rinse. Cut large strawberries into quarters, smaller berries into halves. Defrost frozen fruit before use.
- Peel the orange, removing the bitter white pith and any white connective tissues in the center of the orange. The way I do this is by first taking slices off the top of the orange until I can see the fruit. (That let’s me know how thick the skin is, since it varies from orange to orange.) I then use a knife to make curved cuts down the side of the orange, removing all the peel. Its better to remove a little fruit than to leave peel behind. (You can always press any fruit left attached to the peel with your thumb to extract the juice and add it to the rest of the orange.) When done removing the peel, break the orange into segments, remove any white connective tissues in the center of the orange, and lightly chop the segments into pieces.
- If you prefer a very smooth jam, you can process the strawberries and orange segments into a smooth liquid in a blender or food processor. If you like it more like preserves, with small pieces of fruit in it, mix the strawberries, sugar and chopped orange segments together.
- Once the mixture is combined, roughly mash the strawberries with a potato masher (or similar kitchen tool). Allow the mixture to macerate in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour. Overnight or 24 hours is even better.
- Once the mixture has macerated, place it in the pressure cooker. With the lid OFF, bring to a hard boil using the BROWNING setting for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. This will allow the sugar to dissolve and some of the excess water in the mix to evaporate. (Be careful not to lean in too close to the jam, and to use the longest handled spatula you have, its possible that a small bit of boiling strawberry jam could go rogue and jump out of the pot and land on an exposed arm or worse, your face.)
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the boiling jam mixture. Turn off browning function. Put lid on machine, lock it, and set pressure cooker to cook mixture at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 8 minutes using NATURAL RELEASE. DO NOT force early pressure release.
- Once pressure has been released, unlock and remove the lid, holding it an angle like a shield to direct any residual heat and steam away from your face. With the lid OFF, use the BROWNING setting on the machine to return the jam mixture to a boil for 3 minutes. Stir frequently. Once the time is up, turn the machine off and allow the mixture to cool, stirring periodically. Once your strawberry jam has cooled, you can place it in container in the refrigerator to finish setting (it will already have thickened and set somewhat before refrigeration).
PRESSURE COOKING TIP: I admit, the first time I made jam in the pressure cooker, I was nervous, I was worried that the jam might scorch, I was worried that hot jam might get into the lid and into the pressure release valve, and the longer it took for the pressure to release naturally, and it took an incredibly long time, the more antsy I got about it. Fortunately, I only succumbed to my impulse to release the pressure right near the end of the process, so only a small amount of jam was drawn up into the lid and right to the edge of the pressure release, and I was able to clean it off quickly before the jam set and became hard candy inside the valve. But be forewarned: if you force pressure release, you very well might directly cause a great deal of boiling hot jam to be drawn up through the pressure release valve, to gum it up and cause you no end of grief. It may take a half hour. It may take forty five minutes. But however long it takes for the machine to depressurize on its own, resist the temptation to force it.
CLEAN UP TIP: Any small amounts of jam left in the pressure cooker can harden or get sticky quite quickly once it cools, so I recommend that you inspect the lid, especially around the pressure release valve, as soon as you remove it after pressure cooking. If there’s any jam, clean it right away, before doing the second boil on the jam. Once you put the jam in the refrigerator, either clean the bowl right away, or at least run water inside it and let it soak in the sink until you have time to clean it out.
PRESSURE COOKING TIP: I would recommend that you make the recipe once, as is, in your electric pressure cooker before making changes or doubling the recipe. Just as you have to be careful about doubling a stovetop recipe, you have to be careful about doubling the recipe in a pressure cooker. I’ve made a number of batches of different jams in my pressure cooker, and I would never use more than two (2) pounds of fruit in it (plus sugar and juices), lest too much jam lead to blockage of the pressure release valve. And just like stovetop jam recipes, where the larger the volume of jam mixture, the longer it will take for the fruit to come to a boil, and the greater the opportunity for the jam to fail to set, with a pressure cooker, larger batches will take longer to bring to a boil and to pressure, involving longer cooking times, and a greater chance for the batch to overcook or fail to set. Err on the side of conservatism when making jam.
SUGGESTED USES: This homemade jam could be used on toast, biscuits, English muffins, scones, etc., but it can also be used for a variety of breakfast and dessert recipes. Instead of frosting, use a layer of home made strawberry jam between layers of white cake for an extra treat. Swirl some jam in homemade vanilla ice cream for a burst of intense fruit flavor. Or try one of the following recipes that use strawberry jam: Strawberry Cheesecake, Baked Deep Dish Strawberry French Toast, English Trifle, Mixed Berry Compote, or perfect for a little girls’ party, Strawberry Marshmallows
- 1 lb. (450 grams) strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 /2 to 1 lb. (225 to 450 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 navel orange
- 1 tbs. butter (optional, vegans can omit)
- If you are using fresh berries, remove the stems, leaves and any bruised spots from the strawberries, lightly wash them, and cut into halves or quarters, depending on size. For frozen berries, defrost before use, cut them up if necessary.
- Peel the navel orange, removing the bitter white pith and any white connective tissues. I do this by slicing a bit off the top, so I can see how thick the peel is. I then take the knife and cut slices of peel down the sides of the orange. (It is better to remove a little of the orange than to leave the bitter pith on the orange.) Once you have removed all the peel and any pith attached to the outside of the orange, break it apart into segments, remove any white pithy connective tissues inside, and roughly chop the segments. Reserve the chopped segments and any juice.
- For a very smooth jam, place the sliced strawberries and chopped orange segments and juice into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth, then add to the sugar. If you would like your jam more like preserves (with small pieces of fruit mixed in), combine the sliced strawberries, orange pieces, and orange juice into the sugar.
- Once mixed, use a potato masher to roughly mash the strawberries. The mixture should macerate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but if you can let it set for 8 – 24 hours, that's even better.
- Once the mixture has macerated, add to pressure cooker. Using the BROWNING setting on your electric pressure cooker (and with the lid OFF), bring the jam up to a hard boil for 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar and reduce the excess water content. Stir frequently with the longest handled spatula you own (this is very hot jam, and its always possible a little bit could jump out of the cooker only to land on any conveniently exposed skin surface).
- Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter (this helps prevent foaming and surface scum formation). Put pressure cooker lid on, lock it, and pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 8 minutes using NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE. DO NOT force pressure release, even towards the end, very unfortunate things involving hot jam being sucked into the pressure release valve could happen. Its going to take a long while for the unit to depressurize, but however long it takes, its much better to wait it out.
- After pressure has released, unlock and remove the lid, tilting the front side down and the back side up to direct any residual heat and steam away from you. With the lid OFF and the BROWNING setting, bring the mixture back to the boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the unit off after the 3 minutes are up. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring periodically. Once cooled, put the jam in a container in the refrigerator to finish setting.
Strawberry Fig Jam. This is also a good combination, but may be a little trickier to use fresh fruit for both, since their seasons happen during different parts of the summer (you may have to blanch and freeze your strawberries and wait for fig season). As with rhubarb, figs are both lower in pectin and less sweet than strawberries, so I would recommend substituting no more than 25% of the fruit weight in the first batch, adding a little more sugar, and taste testing the finished batch before making a second.
Strawberry Jam Variations. You could make a mixed berry jam, but I'll be including recipes for that, so you don't have to experiment on that score. You could substitute either lemon or pineapple for the orange in this recipe. Fruits that go well with strawberries include apricots, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, gooseberries, grapefruit, grapes, guava, kumquats, mangoes, melon, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, plums, pomegranates, raspberries and rhubarb. Honey and maple syrup also go well with strawberries. Spices that work well with strawberries include cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mint and nutmeg. Liquors that go with strawberries include amaretto, champagne, Grand Marnier, grappa, kirsch, port, rum, sake and sherry.