An easy to follow, low sugar, no pectin jam recipe that is fabulous on toast or as a topping for brie or other savory dishes!
Jam is My Jam
I have always loved jam. Actual jam. Not jelly. Jam. Made with real fruit. Spread on amazing, thick, crusty bread. Or served with a scoop of ice cream. I like it sweet, but I also like spicy and sweet combinations, like Strawberry Jalapeño, or Mango Habaneros. This strawberry lime jam recipe is one of my all time favorites, though, because it’s sweet tartness goes with ALL THE THINGS.
Despite this love affair, I have never really made jam, or canned anything on my own.
Because I am scared of canning.
I worry that I won’t do it right, and I don’t want to make my family sick. I mean, nobody wants THAT. So I’ve always avoided it. Or at least, I avoided it until I got pregnant, and CRAVED ALL THE FRUIT.
I think I made six different batches of jam in my second trimester last year. So needless to say, I’ve gotten over my fear at least a little bit! This strawberry lime jam recipe was not my first batch of jam, but I think it was my first super successful batch.
Pickles and Pickin’ Time
When I was 10 years old I got to spend a whole month with my great grandmother in North Carolina. The month was July.
July happens to be pickin’ time.
Or in other words, all of the things are ripe and ready time.
My great grandmother, though in her 70s at that point, did with me what she’d done every July for her entire life. She went out each day to one farm or the other, and picked vegetables and fruit. She took me with her. We would then come home and shuck it it, peel it, or clean it, and freeze it.
Oh my gosh, I picked so many things. Corn, tomatoes, beans, peaches, cucumbers, and then more of each again. My grandmother and my great aunts and my cousins were DELIGHTED when I screamed the first time I saw a silk worm inching it’s merry way along an ear of sweet yellow dappled corn.
I had always had my corn prepared for me, and mostly from the grocery store. This contact with food fresh from the earth, covered with earth and it’s living things – well, this was all new to me. I would cringe every time I saw a silk worm, but my Nanny, she wouldn’t even twitch. She’d just slide her knife through corn silk and silk worm, golden kernels dropping in to her bucket, silk worms flicked over her shoulder to disappear into the red clay and grass.
Memories That Memorize Themselves
I look back on this month as a seminal event in my life now. I can still remember walking out into the cucumber patch early one morning, the sun barely up over the horizon, even though it was already hot, hot, hot. You could hear the insects buzzing about the rows of ripened bright green cucumbers. Off in the distance giant irrigation pumps sprayed rows of corn with sharp streams of water and sometimes you could see little faint rainbows around them.
We slowly picked all of our produce, and then went inside my great aunt’s big white farmhouse – which, to my born-and-raised-in-Florida horror did not have air conditioning. We sliced and diced and prepped those cucumbers, and then we turned them in to sweet and tangy bread and butter pickles.
And while those pickles were pickling, we sat around a great big quilt frame in the living room, stitching blue stars onto white quilt backing that would be donated to people in need of warmth.
That day, we needed no extra warmth. I remember this the way only some memories memorize themselves. The pungent smell of pickling juice, the scratch of quilt backing, the silver slip of a needle, and it’s rhythmic sliding up and down.
My great grandmother’s hand guiding mine as she taught me how to make ten stitches at once, fabric bunched underneath our hands.
Mostly, I remember my great grandmother, a somewhat mysterious woman, always quiet. My Nanny, who loved me enough to put up with me for a whole hot summer, while I balked at early mornings and shied away from fuzzy silk worms.
The History of Jam
This article talks a bit about the history of jam, and preserving fruit, all the way from ancient times, to World War II, and the present. I was particularly delighted by this quote, “Joan of Arc ate quince jam before going into battle as it filled her with courage. “
By the power of quince!
I seriously intend to try this before my next nerve wracking event.
I’m fascinated by the evolution of food preservation – the better we as humans have gotten at storing food the better we have gotten at – well, all the other things.
The more food we have, the more people we have, and the longer those people live. But storing food is a tricky business, and a lot of trial and error went into it. You might be surprised to hear that it was relatively recently humans began to be able to properly make and store cooked foods.
And such was the same with me. I’ve rather timidly entered this field of preservation, though something in my heart feels soothed when I look at a neat little row of jars full of something delicious I’ve put up. There is something just so SATISFYING about it!
Or maybe it’s just conquering a fear.
What is a CSA?
My husband and I actually joined an all fruit CSA (community supported agriculture) share. This is where you sign up to support a farm, and pay in advance for your product. It’s designed to help small farmers. For the farmers, they know no matter what, they’ve at least made x amount of money from their CSA members. And in return, they typically give you a pretty generous amount of their product.
I’ll post a bit more about CSAs soon, but we were a bit disappointed with our fruit CSA last year. There are good ones and not so good ones, but I encourage you to check one out if you never have. The worst that can happen is you get fresh produce!
And we, at least, got enough fruit that I made various big batches of strawberry jam, blueberry jam, peach jam, and various fruit salsas and chutneys. It was delightful and delicious, and good practice. I now have a couple of pretty reliable jam recipes and methods, and I’m excited to share this first strawberry lime jam recipe with you.
And now my new motto is – Put all the summer fruits in jars!
And also in my belly. Because YUM.
The Only Thing We Have to Fear, Is Running Out of Strawberry Lime Jam
In any case, we were swimming in fruit last year, so I decided it was time to conquer my fear. Of all the things you can can, or “put up” as we say here in the south, jam is probably one of the easiest. And I like to make my own, because I can control the amount of sugar in it.
Similarly, I don’t use pectin to thicken my jam, which means you need even less sugar. It doesn’t make much sense to me to add a bunch of sugar to something that is already pretty sweet on it’s own.
This strawberry lime jam recipe is honestly one of my favorites. The tartness of the lime counter balances the sweetness of the berries, and the result is something that I can’t get enough of. It brightens anything you put it on, be it toast, brie, or scone.
This recipe even boasts chia seeds, for a little added thickening power and a definite nutritional boost. It can be stored in the freezer, or properly put up.
Canning and Storing
If you do intend to can this strawberry lime jam recipe, do follow safe canning guidelines.
If you are in need of jam jars I like these Weck jars for their clean lines and pretty appeal. But I’m a southern girl at heart, and typically I use regular old Mason Jars like these, which have the added benefit of being a bit cheaper. You may also want to grab a set of these canning tools – the wide mouth funnel is a must, and frankly, so are the big tongs/jar lifter for getting those hot jars out of boiling water! Bonus – they are super affordable.
In fact, the fruit itself is usually the most expensive part of making homemade jam. But homemade jam is still far, far cheaper than store bought, especially if you like a good quality, low sugar variety. This strawberry lime jam recipe will be reappearing in my May kitchen for quite some time I think!
Tell me in the comments what your favorite jam is! I’d love to hear!
Strawberry Lime Jam Recipe
- 4 Cups Fresh Strawberries, quartered and hulled
- 1.5 Cups Sugar
- 2 Whole Limes
- 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
First, prepare your canning jars and canning tools. You’ll need about 4 8 oz jars, or 1-2 pint size Mason Jars. I run my jars through the dishwasher on a sanitize cycle the night or morning before I make the jam, and then place the jars and rings on a cookie sheet and in a low, 200 degree oven until the jam is done and ready to be filled into the jars.
- Add quartered strawberries to a large pot, along with the sugar.
- Zest one lime into the pot, and then halve both limes and juice them into the pot.
- Turn stove to a medium heat, and stir the sugar, strawberries, and lime. They will make a lot of juice.
Bring to a simmer, and allow to cook until the jam starts to thicken. The longer you cook it, the darker and more roasted flavor you’ll get out of the berries. If you wish for a brighter, tangier jam, just don’t cook it as long.
- Prepare a large pot of boiling water, deep enough and wide enough to cover your jars, once filled.
Turn the heat off, and stir in your chia seeds. I stir them in quickly to avoid them clumping. The chia seeds will help to thicken your jam.
Use a canning funnel (with a wider mouth) to fill the hot jars, and then using a clean towel, seal the lids on the jars.
- Place jars in the boiling water, and boil for at least ten minutes.
- Carefully remove from the hot water and set aside for 24 hours.
- Test your lids. If any haven’t sealed properly, place that jar in the refrigerator or freezer, and eat within a month.
Follow the instructions above to the point where you seal the lids on the jars, but instead of placing jars in a water bath, allow them to cool on the counter, and then place in the freezer.
Use freezer jam within one month of removing from the freezer or discard anything left after a month.
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