New to making jam? This 3 ingredient homemade Small Batch Strawberry Jam without pectin is the perfect recipe for beginners because it only makes one 6-ounce jar. Spread it on toast for breakfast or swirl it into cheesecake.

Toast with strawberry jam on white plate
Summer in PA means one thing – strawberry season!

Every year Dad and I go pick our own strawberries at a local farm, coming home with at least 5 pounds worth.

And every year I have my go-to strawberry recipes I make, including this Small Batch Strawberry Jam.

I’ve been making this easy no pectin strawberry jam for several years now and wanted to share it.

This strawberry jam without pectin is ideal for those new to jam making and canning because it’s an easy process without feeling overwhelmed with too many jars.

All you have to do is cook 3 ingredients in a skillet for about 10 minutes. I’ll even show you a cool trick (literally) on how to know when your homemade strawberry jam is done.

Most no pectin strawberry jam recipes make tons of jars, but if you’re like me with a small household, who wants to deal with storing and giving away all of that jam?

That’s why my small batch strawberry jam makes only one small 6-ounce jar. That’s it.

Enough to last you all week for breakfast or to use in my Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake or Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting.

Before you keep reading, I want to make clear: Although I talk about canning the jam, you don’t HAVE to can it. You can store your small batch strawberry jam in the fridge for 2 weeks.

The canning process is there because sometimes you may want to store a jar of homemade jam to enjoy later in the winter.

Whether you enjoy your strawberry jam without pectin now while berries are still ripe or in the winter when summer produce is long gone, you’re only three ingredients away from pure berry bliss.

Strawberry jam on a white spoon

Ingredients For Strawberry Jam Without Pectin

To make your no pectin strawberry jam, you need only 3 ingredients:

  • Strawberries: The star of the jam!
  • Sugar: Sugar acts as a preservative for canning your jam. When the strawberries cook, they release water. The sugar bonds with the water and helps prevent the growth of microorganisms.
  • Lemon juice: Lemon juice helps with the gelling process as well as balancing the sweetness.

What is pectin?

As you read more about how to make jam, you’ll come across an ingredient called pectin. Pectin is a thickening agent often used in jams and jellies so they set up properly after cooling.

You can often buy pectin in the canning section of a store, but it’s mostly only used when making jam.

However, I don’t want to buy an ingredient I’d only use a few times a year.

Luckily for us strawberries have natural pectin in them, especially when they’re slightly underripe and a little green around the stems.

For best results, add a few not-quite-ripe berries, about 2-3 big ones should do.

If you don’t have any underripe berries, you can still cook your jam until thickened. It may not be as thick, but it should still be spreadable for toast.

Why do you put lemon juice into strawberry jam?

Canning is a bit of a science, mostly to help keep harmful bacteria from growing.

Keep the proportion of the ingredients as I have written. Even if the berries are a little sweet, you need the sugar to ensure the jam thickens. It’s more than a sweetener; the sugar is a preservative.

When the strawberries are cooked, they release water. The sugar bonds with the water and helps prevent the growth of microorganisms.

The acid from the lemon juice also helps with the gelling process. Plus it helps brighten the jam so it’s not too sweet and complements the strawberries.

Strawberry jam in a jar

How To Make Strawberry Jam Without Pectin

Before starting your small batch strawberry jam, first put a small plate in the freezer. This is used to test your jam after cooking (more on that in a bit).

Next add your strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a large 12 inch skillet. This will give you enough room to stir as it cooks.

Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Once boiling, cook until it thickens, about 8-10 minutes.

How To Know When Your Jam Is Done

Your strawberry jam recipe without pectin is done when it has thickened enough. However, you won’t know until it has finished cooling. At that point, it’s too late to fix it.

That’s why I use the frozen plate technique. Because the plate is frozen, it’ll instantly cool down the jam so you can determine how thick it is.

Before you start, place a small plate in the freezer. When you’re ready to test your jam, take the plate out and add a small spoonful to the plate.

Next, tilt your plate. If the jam slides too fast, it needs more time. If it slides slowly, it’s done. However, if it doesn’t move at all, you may have overcooked it.

If your jam needs to cook longer, be careful not to overcook it. Even a minute too long can be the difference between done and overdone. It’s best to check too often than not enough.

Strawberry Jam on Toast

How To Can Strawberry Jam Without Pectin

This was my first recipe where I learned how to can jam.

It can be a scary concept because there are possibilities of cross-contamination and jars not sealing properly, leading to possible food-borne illnesses.

You need to sterilize anything that comes in contact with the inside of the jar (lids, jar, tongs, funnel).

However, don’t let that scare you! It’s no different than making sure you don’t cross contaminate raw meat with cooked foods and surfaces.

Although there is fancy equipment, I used a big pot of boiling water and kitchen tongs. I don’t can often enough to justify buying dedicated equipment (not to mention finding the room for everything).

If at any point you doubt the canning process, refrigerate your finished product.

Do I have to can my strawberry jam?

Since this small batch strawberry jam recipe only makes one 6 ounce jar, you honestly don’t have to can. Canning is only necessary if you don’t plan on eating it right away.

If you have no desire to can, make it as directed and store in a heat-proof container. Let cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

Once opened, strawberry jam (no pectin) will last about 2 weeks in the fridge. You’ll have to use your best judgment after 2 weeks. If it seems a little off, don’t use it.

Where To Buy Canning Jars

Now before you run out and spend your paycheck on jars, check your local flea markets and thrift stores first. I’ve gotten jars anywhere from 25 cents to $1.00 each.

Jars can be reused indefinitely, as long as there are no cracks. However, you do have to replace the lids every so often. I highly recommend if you buy used jars, throw away all of the lids and buy new ones.

What To Do With Strawberry Jam Without Pectin

Although the most obvious answer is to eat it on toast with some butter, sometimes you want to do a little more with your homemade strawberry jam.

More Small Batch Jam Recipes

Have other summer fruits you want to turn into jam? Check out these other easy small batch jam recipes:

Small Batch Strawberry Jam Without Pectin

Small Batch Strawberry Jam Without Pectin

Yield: 6 ounces
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

New to making jam? This 3 ingredient homemade Small Batch Strawberry Jam without pectin is the perfect recipe for beginners because it only makes one 6-ounce jar.


  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Place a small dish in the freezer to use for testing the jam.
  2. In a large 12 inch skillet, add strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Once boiling, cook until it thickens, about 10 minutes.
  3. When it seems thick enough, take your plate out of the freezer. Put a small spoonful of the jam onto the plate and let sit for 30 seconds. Tilt it. If it slides too fast, keep cooking in 1-2 minute increments. If it moves slow, it is done.
  4. Transfer to a heat-proof container. Cool to room temperature. If not canning, use within 2 weeks. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.

Canning Instructions (Optional)

  1. Place a clean 6-8 ounce glass mason jar and lid pieces into a large pot of boiling water deep enough for the jar to be completely submerged in water. Once the water is boiling, leave the jar in there until ready to use.
  2. Remove the jar and lids from water and drain out all of the water from the jar. Keep the water boiling.
  3. Transfer the finished jam to the jar. Wipe excess jam off the rim so it will seal properly. Add the lid. You may want to use an oven mitt so you can hold the jar still.
  4. Place sealed jar back into the boiling water and boil for 15 minutes. Make sure it is submerged in the water. Remove from the water and let dry on a heat-resistant surface for 18-24 hours.
  5. Once cool, press down on the lid. If it stays down, it is sealed. If it pops back up, put in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

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Originally published June 5, 2012