Strawberry jelly captures the luscious flavor of strawberries in a smooth homemade jelly. Without strawberry seeds, this simple strawberry jelly is flavorful without distractions.
My little ones love all things jam and jelly, especially strawberry preserves. When strawberry season rolls around in Vermont, they’re on duty full time in our strawberry patch picking berries. We plant two main varieties, the standard summer bearing early strawberries and everbearing strawberries.
Unlike June Bearing varieties, everbearing strawberry plants produce berries all summer and into the fall, though they don’t bear huge crops at any one time. Summer-bearing varieties produce big crops all at once in late spring and early summer, enough to pick bucket loads at a time for strawberry preserves off all kinds, including strawberry jelly.
While I love having a huge canning crop all at once, I also love having a steady trickle of berries all season long. That means I get to see my little strawberry loving munchkins marching off to the garden, bucket in hand all summer long.
I have this simple recipe for low sugar strawberry jam that’s my go-to way to preserve strawberries. It’s perfect for my palate, which doesn’t want a lot of sweet. The little ones though, they want all the sugar.
It’s not just the sugar though, it’s about the texture. While I love a barely sweet jam with a lot of chunks and even the occasional whole strawberry mixed in, they’re all about smooth fruit jellies.
I’m happy to make strawberry jelly for them because it’s actually easier to make than strawberry jam in some ways. There is a straining step, sure, but the cooking time is much shorter. All I have to do is cook up the berries, get them into the jelly bag and then I can be back outside playing in the sun with the littles.
How to Make Strawberry Jelly
As with any homemade preserve, it all starts with good fruit. It takes about 3 1/2 cups of hulled strawberries to produce just one cup of juice, so it’s important to start with a good quantity of berries.
That said, I’ve written this strawberry jelly recipe to be adaptable. Regardless of the number of strawberries you start with, just measure the juice produced and scale the recipe from there.
Hull the strawberries, no need to chop, and place them in a saucepan with a bit of lemon juice or water.
Mash slightly with a potato masher and cook them over medium heat for about 10 minutes until they release their juices.
The next step is straining out the solids for a clear strawberry juice. A jelly bag really helps with this, and it’s a pretty minimal investment if you plan on making jellies regularly. Otherwise, use dampened cheesecloth lining a colander or fine mesh strainer to drain the cooked strawberry mixture.
Strawberry jelly needs to strain for 2 to 4 hours, but preferably overnight. The longer you leave it, the higher the yield. It’s important to resist the temptation to squeeze the fruit while it’s hanging straining in a jelly bag or cheesecloth because that’ll cloud that jam. It’s cosmetic, but we eat with our eyes as well as our mouths and a bright red strawberry jam just looks tastier!
Once the strawberry juice has strained, measure it.
If you’re using standard pectin like sure gel, a “batch” of strawberry jelly requires 4 cups of strawberry juice. I tend to keep low sugar pectin (Pomona’s Pectin) on hand in my pantry, and that type allows you to be more flexible with batch sizes and the amount of sugar used.
With Pomona’s pectin, there are two parts. Powdered pectin that’s mixed in with the added sugar, and calcium water that’s mixed in with the strawberry juice. The calcium activates the pectin, rather than sugar in regular pectin. That means you can make a very low or no sugar preserve if you want.
That’s not what I’m doing here though. I’m making a regular full sugar jelly for sweet tooth toddlers. Still, I love that it’s flexible on batch sizes. With Pomona’s pectin, add 1 teaspoon of both pectin powder and calcium water for each cup of strawberry juice. Along with about 1/4 cup of sugar, this “micro batch” will yield a single 8oz jar.
Scale the recipe up or down as you need, adjusting to your total juice yield.
While I generally use standard 8oz jelly jars, I’ve been experimenting with canning jars with re-usable lids. These beautiful canning jars have a rubber gasket and glass lid that can be re-used again and again.
Thus far, I’m very happy with them and they really make for a beautiful presentation. I’m hoping to use them as fancy gifts this holiday season, but in the meantime, they’re holding strawberry jelly.
The flip top is actually easier for my kids to manage on their own than a standard screw-top jar, but I’m always worried they’ll drop that glass lid. In truth, it’s no riskier than them just dropping the whole jar on the floor.
Canning Strawberry Jelly
Regardless of the canning jars you use, leave 1/4 inch headspace and process strawberry jelly in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off the canner and leave the jars in the hot water for another 5 minutes before removing them to cool.
Check for seals, and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
Alternately, just store the whole batch in the fridge or the freezer and skip the canning step altogether. It won’t be shelf stable, but if you’re not into canning and you plan to use it up quickly it doesn’t much matter.
Strawberry Jelly Recipe Variations
Since strawberry jelly uses strawberry juice, it’s easy enough to add in other liquid flavors into the batch.
The canning book Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin has a recipe for strawberry balsamic jelly that adds balsamic into the strawberry juice, which might be a good option if you’re short on juice at canning time. Similarly, I’ve seen recipes that add in a bit of wine or champagne in place of part of the strawberry juice.
The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving has a Roasted Strawberry Chamomile Jelly that starts by roasting the strawberries on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes. While the strawberries are roasting, you’re brewing chamomile tea on the stovetop. The berries are then cooked in the chamomile tea (tea bag removed), and then strained through a jelly bag and finished just like any other strawberry jelly.
This recipe is just a beginning, and feel free to add in other fruit juices, herbal teas, wine or most any other flavoring that suits you.
- 4 cups strawberry Juice (From 4 pounds strawberries, see note)
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- 1 package powdered fruit pectin (Sure Gel)
- 4 cups sugar
- Wash and hull the strawberries, and place them in a saucepan with a splash of water and lemon juice (if using). Mash with a potato masher and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes until they've released their juices.
- Strain the strawberry pulp through a jelly bag or dampened cheesecloth for at least 2 hours, preferably longer for a better yield.
- It takes roughly 4 pounds of strawberries to make the 4 cups of juice needed for this recipe. If you're a bit short for any reason, add water or another fruit juice.
- Bring the juice to a boil on the stovetop. Mix the powdered pectin with the sugar to distribute and add it to the juice.
- Boil hard for about 1 minute, and then pour into prepared canning jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
- Store in the refrigerator, or process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to stand in the canner for an additional 5 minutes before removing them to cool.
- Check seals an store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
For a low sugar strawberry jam, use pomona's pectin instead of sure gel pectin. With Pomona's pectin, there are two parts. Powdered pectin that's mixed in with the added sugar, and calcium water that's mixed in with the strawberry juice. The calcium activates the pectin, rather than sugar in regular pectin.
With Pomona's pectin, add 1 teaspoon of both pectin powder and calcium water for each cup of strawberry juice. Along with about 1/4 cup of sugar, this "micro batch" will yield a single 8oz jar. Add anywhere between 1/4 and 1 full cup of sugar per cup of juice.
More Strawberry Canning Recipes
Looking for more creative strawberry canning recipes? Read on my friends…
- Wild Strawberry Jam
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
- Sugar-Free Strawberry Jam
- Canning Whole Strawberries
- 30+ Creative Ways to Can Strawberries
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