Do you ever buy more strawberries than you can eat? It happens to me often enough during berry season, especially when I see huge tubs of berries on sale.
The problem is that often when they are on sale, they don't have many days left in them, so you need to use them up right away.
My mother, bless her heart, has the perfect solution for too much fruit. She makes small batch jams in her microwave. She does it with the plums and figs from her trees (see her Microwave Fig Jam).
This week I had a big container of strawberries that needed to get eaten or used, so I decided to use mom's microwave method to make a quick batch of jam. Excellent!
It's so easy. All you need are strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice (I added orange zest because it gives the strawberries some lift). And you need a large Pyrex or microwave safe mixing bowl.
After you've let the strawberries sit for a bit in the sugar to draw out their moisture, it only takes 15 minutes in the microwave on high to make!
2 1/2 cups of quartered berries will yield about 1 1/2 cups of jam. No candy thermometers needed, or big canning pots. No making dozens of jars to store for the winter or give away.
This approach makes a really small batch. But sometimes (usually) that's all we need!
Microwave Strawberry Jam
The best strawberries for making strawberry jam are those that are firm and not soft, overly ripe, or too sweet.
You can sub 1/2 cup of the strawberries for 1/2 cup of chopped orange segments for more orange flavor. Just don't use more than 2 1/2 cups of fruit or your bowl may overflow in the microwave.
You can swap out some of the lemon juice with balsamic vinegar.
A tiny pinch of finely ground black pepper added in step 1 can add some zing to the jam.
- 2 1/2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries (from about 1 pound)
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar (can reduce to 1/4 cup if you would like your jam less sweet)
Toss berries with orange zest, lemon juice, sugar:
Place the quartered strawberries, orange zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a large microwave-safe bowl (at least 10 cup capacity) or 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup.
Gently toss to combine so that the strawberries are well coated with the sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temp to macerate.
Microwave in 5 min intervals:
Place bowl with strawberries on a plate (to catch possible overflow) in your microwave oven. Cook on high for intervals of 5 minutes each, gently stirring after each 5 minute interval.
In my 1650 Watt microwave, I use 3 intervals of 5 minutes each for a total of 15 minutes. If you have a lower powered microwave, you may need to cook longer, or if you have a higher powered microwave, you may need less time.
Pay attention so that the mixture doesn't overflow. If it bubbles up too much and begins to overflow, put the mixture in a larger (microwave safe) bowl and continue.
The jam mixture will be ready when the liquid in it thickens slightly and gets syrupy. Because it is hot, it will not be thick like regular jam. As it cools it should thicken.
Pour into jar, let cool, then chill:
Pour the hot jam into a jar. Let cool to room temperature then store in the refrigerator.
If the jam is too loose and watery even after it has chilled, it may need to be microwaved for several minutes longer.
If you want your jam to be shelf stable, use the full amount of recommended sugar (1/2 cup), use sterilized jars and lids, and leave 1/4 inch headspace from the top of the jar. Otherwise, store in the refrigerator, or freeze (leaving an inch headspace in the jar to account for the expansion of the liquid as it freezes into ice).