One of my favorite parts of spring is seeing the strawberries ripen like jewels in the sun in the little patch beside our house. Preserving honey sweetened strawberry jam for a large family is a task that has taken more than a few years to perfect. For the first time this year, I finally have mastered the recipe and I am happy to share it with you!
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Previous attempts at Making Strawberry Jam
When I first started making jam several years ago, I made it with the full sugar recipe, but over the years, it bothered me how much sugar we were consuming, so I switched to the Low Sugar Sure Jell version. This worked for a while. One year I attempted to take it farther and completely nix the granulated sugar by using honey. The problem with this, however, was that I couldn’t get the honey jam to set, so went back to the safer low sugar recipe that I knew would set without difficulty. Finally, this year, I decided to try the honey sweetened strawberry jam once more, and I think I have finally mastered it!
Preserving Jam for a Large Family
With lots of kiddos around our house, we all love peanut butter and jelly toast or sandwiches, so jam is a great choice for large families to can or freeze.
Rather than preserving a variety of food, we like to pick one or two vegetables or fruits that we eat a lot of and then learn how to put up enough of that particular food to last us about a year. We started doing this initially with applesauce when we first got married and slowly have added in something new over the years. It takes time, first of all, to learn how to preserve a food, and secondly, to determine how much will feed the family for close to a year.
To feed our family of twelve last year, we made 50 pints of strawberry jam. This lasted us until March, so ideally, we should probably do about 60 this year if we want it to last until next May. The recipe in this post yields 5 pints, so it will take twelve batches to yield 60 pints.
How can you determine the amount of jam you should make to feed your family for a year?
- Count approximately how many pints you use per month.
- Multiply this number by 12 months in a year.
- Divide by 5 (the pint yield from one batch) and that will show how many batches you need to make.
One problem that I have encountered over the years has been jars breaking when I put them in the canner to process. I have learned that this is indirectly related to having a larger family. Because I usually have some children underfoot and others helping when we are making jam, the process sometimes takes longer. I often have random interruptions as I work on the jam throughout the day. This means that sometimes the finished jam will sit in the pint jars long enough to cool down to room temperature. When I place these room temperature jam jars into the canner of boiling water, the change in temperature causes the jars to crack. The solution to this is to either process the hot jars of jam in the canner immediately or put the room temperature jars in the canner when it is warm, but not boiling.
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Honey Sweetened Strawberry Jam Recipe
Here are a few things you should know before making honey sweetened strawberry jam. If you are used to full sugar jams, this may not taste quite as sweet as your normal preference. Additionally, honey sweetened jam does not yield as much as a full or low sugar recipe. In my opinion, however the smaller yield is worth it because you can be confident that your family is consuming a fruit source that is healthy for them.
- 8 cups crushed strawberries, pureed with a potato masher (kids are great for this job!)
- 1 cup water (or fruit juice if you prefer it a little sweeter)
- 9 tablespoons Low or No Sugar Sure Jell or Fruit Pectin
- 1 cup honey
- Pour 8 cups crushed strawberries and 1 cup of water (or fruit juice) into a large kettle. Heat on the stovetop, slowly whisking in the 9 TB Sure Jell. Bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
- Add 1 cup of honey. Bring to a rolling boil again. When the boil cannot be stirred down, set a timer for 1 minute. Stir constantly to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat after the minute timer is complete.
- Use a funnel and ladle to pour hot strawberry jam into sterilized pint jars. Leave a 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the top of the jars with a hot, clean cloth to remove any strawberry residue.
- Boil lids and rings in a small pot of water for 1 minute.
- Use a canning magnet to pull lids and rings out of the boiling water. Place lid on the jar. Screw on the ring. It should be screwed all the way, but not too tight. (Too loose and it may not seal, too tight and the jar lid may buckle.)
- Use a jar lifter to gently place the pint jar into a canner filled with hot water. Seven pint jars will fill a standard canning kettle.
- When the kettle comes to a boil, process the jam for 10 minutes.
- Use a jar lifter to remove the jars. Set on a tea towel to cool. Do not move for 24 hours to allow the jam to set and the jars to seal. Test the seals on each jar by tapping in the center or gently pressing down.
Preserving Food Teaches Kids Life Skills
One of the best reasons to preserve food for your family is because it teaches kids valuable life skills. There are many jobs that kids can do to be a part of when preserving food. With jam, they can pick the strawberries, wash them, cut off the tops, mash them to a puree with a potato masher, and measure the berries, honey, and sure jell. Other foods also provide opportunities for them to learn. They can cut cucumbers for pickles, run apple through the saucer for applesauce, cut off bean tips for green beans. Getting them involved helps them to fully understand and appreciate how their work contributes to the needs of the whole family.
When they see this process year after year, even they aren’t actively doing the work, they can step in and out in any part of it because they watched it being done over and over and over. It’s also good for them to see the failures like jars breaking and jam not setting. When they see how we respond to these kind of frustrations by problem solving rather than throwing in the towel, that will be a model response for them to imitate. Besides all this, the memories made and smells of delicious strawberry jam, applesauce, or tomato salsa are worth making this a regular family tradition in your home.
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!