An easy, small-batch strawberry jam with the herbal note of bay leaves. Bright, sweet, and summery, it makes good use of seasonal berries.
Photography by Kelly Neil
If you love jam but don’t love the amount of work and time it takes to make a large batch, we’ve got you covered! This small-batch strawberry jam makes a lightly sweet preserve, where you can actually taste the fruit. A couple of dried bay leaves added while the jam cooks add a subtle herbal background note which we love.
All you need is a pint of berries (though the recipe can easily be double or tripled), a small amount of sugar, a couple of bay leaves, and pectin powder. If you’re not familiar, pectin powder is readily available in the canning section of most grocery stores. Feel free to make the jam with frozen berries if that’s what you’ve got, but note that seasonal summer berries are best!
This makes about a cup of jam, just right for someone who wants to make it themselves but doesn’t want to make a dozen jars!
Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the printable recipe card with full ingredient measurements and complete instructions.
A potato masher is excellent if you have one, but a fork can be used to mash the berries too. An immersion blender can work but make sure you don’t puree too much.
We really like Weck jars as they’re just glass with natural rubber rings, so completely reusable with less waste. This recipe doesn’t need canning jars but they’re never a bad idea to have on hand.
- Strawberries: fresh berries that are red all the way through have the best taste and least amount of water – perfect for jam and everything else!
- Bay Leaves: dried is best (see FAQ).
- Sugar: normal granulated sugar. Cane sugar can be substituted.
- Pectin Powder: the instructions are for apple pectin. Other types will use a different method.
Keep scrolling to see clear and detailed process shots, as well as tips and notes to help you make Small Batch Strawberry Jam perfectly the first time!
1. Don’t wash strawberries in advance. This makes them soggy and will add too much water to your jam. Rinse just before using!
2. One boil only. This is the case when using apple pectin, as we did. With some other pectins you may have to boil again, or simmer, once the pectin is added.
3. Wait to cool. This is only true if you’re refrigerating, not canning, but it’ll prevent any jars or containers from cracking.
- Fresh in-season strawberries taste best for this recipe.
- This recipe doubles and triples well.
- Because of the low amount of sugar, if you want to can the jam, use a water bath or pressure-canning method. If you’re not an experienced canner, we recommend storing the jam in the refrigerator or freezer instead.
How to Store and Freeze Low Sugar Strawberry Jam
- To Store – refrigerate for up to a month, depending on the temperature of your fridge. The jam will last longer if the jar it’s stored in was sterilized first.
- To Freeze – spoon into a freezer-safe jar or container, then seal and freeze for up to six months. Thaw in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature.
- Frozen strawberries work if you want to make small-batch strawberry jam out of season. If you choose this route, it might be helpful to thaw the berries in a sieve before cooking the jam. Thawing and draining the berries will help reduce extra water content.
- Though they add a lovely flavour, the bay leaves are totally optional. You can use other herbs, such as thyme or basil, or leave the herbs out completely if preferred.
- Liquid pectin can be substituted for pectin powder, but you’ll have to read your specific pectin package to determine how to do this.
- If you can get canning or preserving sugar, which has pectin added, that can be used. Replace the sugar 1:1 and omit the added pectin.
Best Breads for Jam
- Plain Sourdough: while you could have sourdough sandwich bread, why not makes things a bit more exciting with a black pepper and rosemary bread? Serve with a sharp cheese and jam for a herbal lunch.
- Whole Wheat
- Brioche: toast a slice of brioche bread for truly the best strawberry jam experience, with a bit of butter first.
- Rye: use marbled rye as pictured or make your own sourdough bauernbrot.
- Gluten-free: our favourite GF bread is this millet sandwich bread.
Fresh bay leaves are much more pungent than dried and will add a lot of bay flavour. Dried bay leaves are more mild and subtle. You can use fresh, but remove them much earlier.
This will depend on what the packaging says. Usually there will be little brochures folded into the package with instructions. The amount used and the cooking time needed will be totally up to the type of pectin and we usually use apple pectin.
Sure can! There are a couple methods: one, do it the old fashioned way, and cook the water content down until the fruit sets on its own. This takes ages. Two, you can add lemon zest which adds natural pectin, or use a cheesecloth bag with apple cores and peels. Using pre-made pectin is easiest though!
Sugar helps the jam to set and is generally pretty important for preserving. There are sugar free jam recipes and we recommend using one from a tested source if you plan on canning it.
More Refrigerator Preserves
Small-Batch Strawberry Jam With Bay Leaves
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- Medium sized pot
- Potato masher
- Wooden spoon
- 2 cups strawberries, halved, stems removed
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 bay leaves, dried
- 1 tablespoon pectin powder
- Place the sliced strawberries in a medium-sized pot.
- Use a potato masher to crush the berries until they are well-mashed but still chunky.
- Add the bay leaves to the pot.
- Place the pot over medium-high heat on the stove and bring the crushed berries to a rolling boil.
- Quickly stir in the sugar and pectin powder.
- Stir the jam constantly for two minutes as it continues to cook over medium-high heat.
- Remove the pot from the heat and that’s it! As the jam cools, use a spoon to gently skim off and discard any foam that develops on top.
- Once cool, remove the bay leaves and spoon the jam into a sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in the fridge to fully set.
- For more information about cooked jam, check your package of pectin to better understand how it works.