I be Jamming: Standard Strawberry, Sweet Cherry, and Vanilla Black Raspberry Jams

Last year we decided to receive a summer fruit share from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It worked out fantastic! Ex-Hubby and I were eating a couple fruit smoothies a week and the whole family was enjoying fresh fruit with every meal. When I ordered it all at the beginning of the year, Ex-Hubby and I decided to give 1.5 shares a go (one week receive just one share, next week receive a double share). Since then we became a family of three, so 1.5 shares is to much for us to power through. Luckily, each week I have received fruits I can turn to jam or freeze, ensuring nothing goes to waste.

I do not generally water bath my jams. I am originally from England and grew up with jams that were set without the use of pectin and without the use of a water bath. So, use your best judgement. I have read blog posts suggesting that these jams be refrigerated and consumed within 6 months. 

Again, use your best judgement! I store where I have room.

Helpful items for canning jam:

 Standard Strawberry Jam

Now these strawberries were actually picked by myself, the rug-rats, and Granna from a local U-Pick… When you want like 8lbs of strawberries you kinda need to do that! The kids also ate their weight in strawberries. So good day all around. 


16oz Strawberries, washed and rough chopped
14oz sugar
1tsp (or so) of lemon (when using fresh you need more, 1tbsp)

Cook the strawberries low and slow until they break down. Sometimes I help them along with a potato masher. I often do this while doing other things around the house. Just stir occasionally so they don’t burn. No water needed, the juice will cook out. 

Once cooked, add your sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil and stir. Keep a candy thermometer in the pot and cook to 220°F. Once it reaches that temp or close to it, you will start to see the bubbles change: have a film over them and don’t pop as easily. Take a small amount and put it on a cold plate (from the freezer) and cool. Test to see if it’s set. Jam ripples when touched and is like a thick jell. 

Pour into hot, clean jars, and allow to cool overnight. If the lid did not seal (button popped down) jam must be kept in the fridge and eaten first. Once cool, should not run once the jam when turned. 

Sweet Cherry Jam

My brother did not appear to think that you could make cherry jam without pectin and have it set. Wrong. Now you do have to cook it longer than strawberry jam, but move set without issue. 


16oz Sweet Cherries, washed and pitted
8oz sugar
1tsp (or so) of lemon (when using fresh you need more, 1tbsp)

Sweet cherries are 2:1 fruit to sugar. So you can do basically any quantity as long as it’s 2:1. Cooking the cherries down, reducing the juice from the fruit, is very important. You don’t want them to be burnt or overcooked, but you need the juice from the fruit reduced without draining the juice and losing flavor. 

Once cooked down, follow the same steps as with the strawberries. Cook to a setting point of 220°F and then can into hot, clean jars. 

I found this jam took much, much longer than my strawberry did. I think the amount of juice was too much from the start so I will need to make sure to cook it down further in the future. But it is set and amazing, especially with peanut butter… Don’t judge me, I have a five year old who lives on PB&J. 

Vanilla Black Raspberry Jam

Black raspberries have a slightly different taste to their red siblings, I found them to be less tart personally and more, almost bland but not in a bad way. I felt like they needed something to make them pop. Enter vanilla bean sugar. This is something so simple to make and adds so much to a dish. I use plain, white sugar and vanilla pods. Using kitchen sissors, cut down the length of the vanilla bean pod and put in a large wide mouth canning jar. Do this with 3-4 pods and then fill with sugar. Seal and store for awhile (think months). Shake every now and again to mix it up. Once the sugar takes on a vanilla taste, use the sugar as you would in any baking recipe for an extra kick of flavor. I’ve just topped with sugar once getting low and used the same pods a couple times.


16oz Black Raspberries, washed
16oz Vanilla Bean Sugar, instructions above
1tsp (or so) of lemon (when using fresh you need more, 1tbsp)

Black raspberries are 1:1 ratio with sugar same as regular raspberries. 

Wash the raspberries and cook on low to break down the fruit. Speed up with a potato masher once the fruit is heated through. 

As the sugar and lemon and bring to boil. Cook to 220°F as with the other jams and can in hot, clean jars once the jam sets on a freezer plate. 

I now have a small army of jam for my children to devour over the coming months, enjoy!


About Emma BL

In the begining, there was just the two of us, then there were furbabies, and then a baby! We started trying to conceive in Nov 2010, but experienced complications and a miscarriage. Finally in April 2012 we welcomed Monkey and Bear joined in 2015. While preggo and trying to become preggo with Monkey, I often hit the web search for information about what is happening to me and I hope that through sharing my experiences, others gain some knowledge. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet. So take all my experiences and advice with a grain of salt! Now that Monkey and Bear are around and we have made the transition to parents... we try to answer the question "is there life after the baby bump?"
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