The Strawberry season in Poland is eagerly anticipated every year and making. your own Polish strawberry jam (dżem truskawkowy) is a way to extend the season’s bounty. Polish strawberries are a little smaller than the ones I buy in the United States, and the flavor is more intense.
Here in Tucson, I’m working with some beautiful organic strawberries on sale for $.98 a pound, sadly not Polish strawberries, but I am using a process for making jam, that I’ve only read about in recipes I’ve translated from Polish websites. I’m not a huge maker of jams nor into home canning in a big way, so it’s possible that this is something everyone knows about except me.
Rather than adding additional pectin to the fruit, I just cook it down with sugar and lemon juice for hours and over days! While the cooking time might be about 3 hours, it’s suggested that you cook it for an hour, let it cool and refrigerate overnight. Do the same thing again for two more days.
I like to stir the jam with a flat bottom wooden spoon. Toward the end, the spoon leaves a clear path in its wake because the jam is getting thick enough that it doesn’t fil in the gap immediately.
I’ll say that this jam is just strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, low heat, and time. The flavor and aroma are intensely strawberry and mouthwatering! You cook it down so much that a pound of strawberries makes just over a cup jar of jam.
If you want a greater quantity of jam and/or to spend less time on the project, after shorter cooking time, add pectin (according to the package directions). If you’ve brought your mixture to a boil, simmering for 15 – 20 minutes is probably enough.
Don’t be tempted to skimp on the sugar. It plays an important part in helping the jam set, as does the lemon juice. The lemon juice changes the pH which helps the natural pectin in the berries gel; the addition of this acid also prevents the growth of bacteria, making for a shorter processing time.
There are things you can add to make this Polish strawberry jam a little more special or personalized: lemon zest, the seeds from a vanilla pod, balsamic vinegar, or brandy. We immediately think of jam on toast for breakfast, but I think it would also be great with cheese on a charcuterie platter. It would also make a nice glaze for roasted duck.
You might finish this jam so quickly (by that I mean finish eating it, not finish preparing it), that you can just put it in the fridge, but you expect to have it around for more than a week or so, process your jam jars in a water bath. It’s not difficult to do.
When your jam is ready, fill clean jars, leaving a 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar. I’m not that into kitchen gadgets, but a jam funnel is a big help with this. The wide-mouth funnel keeps the top your jar clean, and if you fill to the bottom of the funnel, you have the right space at the top of your jar.
Make sure the top of the jar is clean. Add the lid, and make it fingertight (until you meet resistance and then just a little more). Put the jam jars upright, into a large pot, add water so that it comes at least an inch over the top of the jars.
Bring the water to a roiling boil, keep the water boiling for 10 minutes before removing the jars. This time is for sea level. Add 1 minute to your processing time for every 1,000 feet of elevation.
As the jars cool (and this will take hours), they will make a popping sound as the lid is sucked down. If you push on the top of the lid, there should be no play, no up and down movement.
Your jam is now shelf-stable for a year, although, you’ll want to check each jar as you open them. You should be breaking a seal when you open the lid. The jam just still look as you would expect. If you see mold, toss it.
If you don’t want to process your jam jars, put the jam in containers that you can freeze!
I think you’ll love this. Smacznego!
A deliciously intense, strawberry jam made with no added pectin.
- 3 pounds strawberries
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest (optional)
- seeds from a vanilla pod (optional)
- 2 teaspoons butter (optional) keeps jam from getting foamy while cooking
- Add all the ingredients to a large pan over low heat
- Stirring frequently, simmer for about 3 hours or until the jam has reached the desired consistency. If possible, spread the cooking time over 3 days. refrigerating overnight.
- Place in freezer containers or clean jars and process as described above.
If you like, when finished cooking, add 2 tablespoons of brandy or balsamic vinegar.
Keywords: Polish strawberry jam