Refrigerator jams generally make a small batch, which means you don’t need to invest in bushels of fruit and there’s no need for canning equipment to sterilize the jars for long-term storage; you can keep the one or two jars of jam the recipe makes in the fridge and finish them off in a few weeks. We use a small amount of fruit so that it will cook down quickly to the proper consistency, and the less you cook fruit, the more of its fresh taste is preserved. A shorter cooking time also preserves more of the naturally occurring pectin in the fruit, which is necessary for proper gelling. In addition to the fruit’s pectin, we tinkered with the amounts of lemon juice and sugar to be sure that the jam would set properly, since acidity and sugar help pectin form a strong gel without the need for adding commercial pectin.

Makes about 2 Cups

Crushing the berries releases the pectin and decreases the cooking time, ensuring maximum fresh flavor.

  •  pounds strawberries, hulled and cut into ½-inch pieces (3 cups)

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Place metal spoon in freezer to chill. Combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Mash fruit with potato masher until fruit is mostly broken down. Simmer vigorously until fruit mixture thickens and spatula leaves trail that does not fill in immediately, 15 to 25 minutes.

2. Remove saucepan from heat. Dip chilled spoon into jam and allow jam to run off spoon; jam should slowly fall off spoon in one thickened clump. If jam is runny, return to medium heat and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes before retesting. Transfer jam to jar and let cool completely. Cover with tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Reprinted with permission from Cook’s Illustrated as originally published here in their July 2015 Issue