Balsamic Strawberry Jam

Before and After

I  have a mortal fear of canning. And I do mean that almost literally, I am terrified I will put something up and then kill my whole family via botulism, and our obituaries will read that we died from eating last summer’s tomatoes.   But I am trying to overcome it and hope to do so before this summer’s tomato crop comes in.

A few months ago I started hearing about “freezer jam” everywhere. You know how you go your whole life not knowing about something and then suddenly everyone you know is talking about it? That was freezer jam for me. Apparently the whole world, including my sister, knows all about freezer jam and I failed to get the memo. Anyway, I figured I would try it since the Oxnard strawberries had hit their peak and were about to disappear (strawberry season is marked by the appearance of the Oxnard strawberries, the moment the Oxnard strawberries hit $5/3 pints and are so good you’ll eat all three pints in one sitting, the disappearance of the Oxnard strawberries and the appearance of the Santa Rosa strawberries…) so I bought a bunch and tinkered with Mark Bittman‘s Low-Sugar Jam recipe, adding balsamic vinegar and replacing the sugar with brown sugar. I also made a regular batch, and the balsamic batch is far and away my favorite. (Not my 3 year old’s favorite, he prefers grape jelly, but whatever, more for me.)  I’ve got several jars in the freezer still but the Santa Rosa strawberries just hit $5/3 pints, so I think this weekend I’ll freeze a few more. (With some tarragon from the garden, perhaps?)

Balsamic Strawberry Freezer Jam

  • 6 cups strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • a good splash of balsamic vinegar

Put the fruit in a big saucepan and smush up with a potato masher. (This is a good step to delegate to your child.)  Add a cup of sugar and vinegar and place over medium high heat.

Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves and it turns into a liquid mess.  Taste and adjust sugar/vinegar as desired.

Turn heat to low and stir occasionally until berries have totally fallen apart and it’s thickened up nicely.  Taste again, adjust sugar/vinegar again if necessary, and then pour into jars. (I use very small jars because this only keeps in the fridge for a week or two.) Cool and then refrigerate/freeze.

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10 Responses to Balsamic Strawberry Jam

  1. Kate says:

    This sounds so good — I put up strawberry basil freezer jam earlier this year (strawberry season in FL is over in April), and am now kicking myself for not putting some balsamic in, too.

    I picked up an actual canning kit the other day and am going to give green bean pickles a shot this year. Maybe. If I get brave enough. (And if I don’t, the kit was only $12.)

  2. hannahspector says:

    Ooh, where did you get it? $12 is an investment I can get behind.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    There were three jars of freezer jam that moved from Colleyville to Houston with us in 2001. They were never opened.

  4. Alex says:

    So why is it called freezer jam? Isn’t that how normal jam is made? (Apparently you are not the only one who’d never heard of freezer jam. But I’m any kind of jam ignorant.)

  5. hannahspector says:

    No, regular jam cooks longer, and you use pectin, and sterilized jars and a hot water bath, and all sorts of things I have only read about on the Ball Canning site.. But then you can keep it out on the shelf, is, I think the pro. The pros for freezer jam are no boiling or tong usage required, and it also calls for a lot less sugar.

    That said, am totally getting myself to Lowe’s.

    (And, Liz, you may remember that I left home in 1995- so the freezer jam was after my time!)

  6. Jana Lithgow says:

    I have never made freezer jam without pectin. Now I want to try this recipe and see how that turns out.

  7. tanulewicz says:

    Okay, true confession: I’ve only ever canned strawberry jam, blueberry jam, pepper jelly, and apple butter, but I’ve never once processed them in a water bath. I totally would if I were canning anything with tomatoes or vegetables, but I learned how to can jellies and preserves from my grandmother, who swears that in a lifetime of canning, she’s never processed anything, and has never had a can go bad.

    I sterilize my jars in the dishwasher (which has a sterilize setting) and then move the hot, sterilized jars directly to a warm (like, 200-degree) oven, where I keep them in a brownie pan (or a roaster, or both, depending on how much I’m canning) until it’s time to fill them with hot fruity goodness. I keep the lids in a boiling water bath (as one does) and then put them right on the hot preserves, and then put the band on. As they cool, they seal – you’ll hear the pops. I’ve never had anything not seal, and I’ve never had anything go bad. Again, I would NOT do this with anything other than sugary fruit things, but that’s how I do it.

  8. hannahspector says:

    That’s still like a bunch of extra steps beyond freezer jam, though! That said a)I got a canning kit at Lowe’s today and am going to make some real strawberry jam this week and b)pepper jelly recipe please.

  9. Jana says:


    She even has cute label templates in the post after that one!

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