The first time I made strawberry jam, wife Jan complained that it was too sweet. I cut the sugar way back and found I had to add some commercial pectin to get my jam to set. I had also tried adding some ginger and I found that it was not enough to rise above the strawberry flavor. Boosting the amount of fresh ginger did the trick.
One of the fond memories of my childhood was when my mother, Claudia, would make strawberry jam every strawberry season. With five kids and a tight budget, it was one more way to stretch a dollar—even then commercial jelly was expensive. Whenever she did this, she would also bake bread—the smell of fresh bread and jam would fill the house. We would all gather around anticipating the treat of hot jam on warm bread just out of the oven
Karl’s Low Sugar Ginger Strawberry Jam
6 cups strawberries
1 cup sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice, one large lemon
1 Tbs. lemon zest, coarse shreds
2 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
1± tsp. commercial pectin
1. Rinse, trim, and slice the strawberries into small pieces.
Tip: I cut each strawberry in half and then sliced the halves into 5-7 slices
2. Put the strawberries, sugar, juice, zest, and ginger into a small heavy pot.
Note: Put some jars in a pot of water. Sterilize them and their lids for 20 minutes.
3. Stir the ingredients to mix and let the strawberries to macerate for 30 minutes.
Tip: The sugar draws out the strawberries’ juices and breaks down their cell walls to make a saucy mixture.
Note: Do not let them macerate for more than 30 minutes or they will turn to mush. You want your jam to have some texture.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer it for 30 minutes.
Tip: During the last five minutes, scoop out a bit of jam with a teaspoon and set it on a plate with a cube of ice. After three minutes, pour the contents of the teaspoon back into the pot. If the fruit mixture pours off of the spoon it has not set. If the jelly slides off of the spoon in a sheet it has enough pectin in it to fully set once you put it into the jars.
Note: Most of the pectin in this recipe comes from the white pith attached to the lemon zest. If you zester takes very fine shavings of the lemon skin you may not get enough pectin to set your jam. In this case, you will need to add just a tough of commercial pectin.
5. Sprinkle one teaspoon of pectin over the fruit mixture and stir it in.
6. Simmer the jam for another five minutes and test it for jelling again.
Note: If your jam still hasn’t set repeat steps X and XX.
7. Pour the jam into the sterilized jars and screw on the lids.
8. Let the jars cool and store them in the refrigerator.
Note: This is a small enough batch that you do not need to worry about long term storage. They will very likely be consumed in one month.