Learn an easy method for making a small batch of jam for freezer jam or keeping in the fridge. Includes our recipe for Strawberry Vanilla Jam, using a real vanilla bean!
The two words bring nightmares to the heart of many that have spend hours tolling away in their kitchens to make jam to have for months on end.
It's a fine way to go about it. You end up being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor long after those fruits are no longer in season.
The reason why it's such a nightmare is that it's a long process to make. You have to boil the jam, then boil the jars, then boil the jam in the jars. If it's not a labor of love than it's just torture on a hot summer day.
I think when people think of jam making it's time for a paradigm shift.
In this case it's not go big or go home, it's go small, and spend more time relaxing at home 🙂
❓ Why Small Batch Jam
I have been getting into making small batches of jam. Here is why I love this method:
- It's easy and fast. You don't have to spend all day. You can have your single jar of jam much sooner.
- The taste is better. When you don't cook the fruit as long as you do in the big batch the flavor of the fruit is preserved (I made a funny!).
- Using what I have. I have a method of making jam that allows me to use the fruit I have in whatever amount I have without having to worry so much about cup and fruit measuring.
? Fridge or Freezer
If you are looking to avoid having to go through the whole process of processing all your to keep at room temperature, the fridge or freezer can be a good storage option.
Sometimes I am making jam just to enjoyed right now, so there is no reason to go through the process.
To refrigerate you can any container with a lid that you like. I often use Ball jars. I would say the jam would last at least a few weeks in the fridge. In our household it never lasts that long.
If you are looking for more long term, you can freeze your jam. You don't want to use glass containers for that. I recommend these Reusable Quart Sized Containers with Lids.
? How to Make Small Batch
Let me show you how to make small jam with one of our family's favorite recipes - Strawberry Vanilla Jam with real vanilla bean. It's the first jam we make every year as it's the first fruit that is ripe in Michigan each year.
Here are the ingredients for my jam:
The vanilla bean has so much more flavor than extract. They are pricey but the good thing is that when you are done using them you can put the empty pods into a container of sugar and it will eventually make the entire container smell like vanilla - thus you made vanilla sugar!
Here is what tools that will help you make the jam. These are what I use, you can adjust based what you have in your kitchen.
- Large non-stick frying pan
- Pairing knife
- Rubber Spatula
- Kitchen scale
- Large mixing bowl
- Small dessert plate
- Potato masher
- Large measuring cup (around 4 cups)
- 1 teaspoon sized measuring spoon
For small batch jam making all I do is weight out my sliced strawberries, weight out my sugar.
Add in 1 vanilla bean per quart of strawberries (1 quart of strawberries is about 1 ½ pounds). Allow the berries to macerate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Then cook in a large frying pan. I use a frying pan because it allows for more surface area for water to evaporate, making the process go quicker. Remember the quicker you cook, then more flavor is keep intact. I will add pectin about 1 teaspoon per 2 cups of fruit if needed, I think strawberries can use some added pectin.
This jam is the best I ever made. The strawberry flavor is so bold. Just look at beautifully red the jam is. The vanilla bean adds a nice note to really round out the flavor.
Step by Step
Weight out roughly equal amount of strawberries and sugar.
Pour the sugar over the berries. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes or up to an hour.
Smash the berries up with a potato masher. If you want a smoother jam, you can puree the in the food processor or blender. I like my jam more chunky.
Pour the strawberries into a measuring cup. Add 1 teaspoon of pectin per 2 cups of fruit.
Add strawberries to a frying pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir frequently.
Jam is done when it has turned a darker color, is glossy, and begins sticking to the sides of the pan.
You can put a dab on a plate and put in the freezer for 1 minute. If the jam doesn't slide when cooled it's ready.
? Other Jam Recipes
Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Freezer Jam
- 1 ½ pounds fresh strawberries tops removed and quartered
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1-2 teaspoons classic powered pectin
- enough sugar to equal the weight of the strawberries
- Prepare the strawberries. Weight them out. Add equal amount of sugar by weight.
- Cut open and scrap out 1 vanilla bean. Add to the fruit/sugar
- Allow to macerate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Heat a large/wide non-stick frying pan over high heat.
- Pour in the fruit mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of pectin for 2 cups of macerated fruit
- Place a plate into the freezer.
- Bring to a boil. Continually stirring until the jam thickens about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Place a little bit of jam onto the plate in your freezer. Place back in the freezer, wait 1 mintue. If the jam does not move on the plate, then it's done. If it seems too runny still cook it a bit longer and try again. You can add 1 more teaspoon of pectin if you think it needs it.
- Pour jam into container of your choice. Allow to cool before placing in the fridge. If you wish to freeze the jam, let it sit in the fridge overnight before putting in it in the freezer.
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