Old-Fashioned Strawberry Preserves

Strawberry preserves recipe

​The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Macerate: 14 hrs
Total: 15 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 4 (half-pint) jars
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
222 Calories
0g Fat
57g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 222
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 54g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 52mg 260%
Calcium 14mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 136mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy recipe for strawberry preserves is made without added pectin. It's a vintage recipe and it makes about four half-pint jars that, when properly canned, will be shelf-stable. If you only want a small batch to refrigerate right away, use a small batch strawberry jam instead.

Use a candy thermometer for the best results. Serve your strawberry preserves with scones, biscuits, toast, or use as a filling for a layer cake or as a topping for ice cream.

"Once you start making fresh preserves, jams, and jellies, you are going to wonder why you ever bought from the store. This version of strawberry preserves is great for utilizing your summer strawberry pickings as it captures the whole fruit and great flavor. And as a bonus, your home will smell amazing!" —Tracy Wilk

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Preserves Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds fresh ripe strawberries, including some underripe ones

  • 4 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for strawberry preserves
    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. Wash the strawberries in cold water and drain thoroughly. Hull them and discard the caps. Halve or quarter the strawberries lengthwise.

    Cut off strawberry tops
    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  3. Combine the berries with the sugar in a bowl or a large stainless steel or enamel-lined pan and let sit for 2 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.

    Add sugar
    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel 
  4. In a medium saucepot, bring the strawberries to a boil slowly, stirring occasionally. Add the lemon juice.

    Add lemon
    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  5. Cook rapidly over medium heat until the strawberry mixture reaches a temperature of 221 F, 25 to 45 minutes. Skim off any foam from the surface.

    Cook
    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  6. Ladle or funnel the strawberry preserves into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

    Ladle into jar
    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  7. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

    Process
    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  8. Cool and store in the fridge until ready to use.

    Cool and store
    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel

How to Test for Jelling Point of Jams, Jellies, and Preserves

  • Temperature: If you use a candy thermometer, cook the preserves to 221 F or 9 degrees above the boiling point. For each 1,000 feet of altitude above sea level, subtract 2 degrees. 
  • Freezer Test: Put a few small plates in the freezer. Near the end of the cooking time, begin to test. Drop a dab of jam on an ice-cold plate. Put it back in the freezer for 2 minutes. If the preserves wrinkle a bit when gently pushed with your finger, it is done. If it is still runny and your finger runs through it, continue cooking and test again in a few minutes.
  • Cold Spoon Test: Put a few metal spoons in the refrigerator. Dip a cold spoon into the boiling jelly and lift it. Let it run off the spoon. When two drops converge and "sheet" off the spoon, the preserves are done.

Tips

  • One pint of fresh strawberries weighs approximately 12 ounces. A 1-pound container, once the strawberries are hulled, will weigh about 12 to 14 ounces.
  • If the strawberry preserves set up properly, and you follow safe canning practices, the jars will keep for up to a year in a cool, dark place like your pantry.
  • If you're not sure if your preserves are properly canned, store them in the fridge and enjoy them within a month.
  • Be patient if the strawberry mixture is not reaching the gel point; it can take longer depending on altitude, the size of the batch, the pan size, and your stovetop. The proper temperature can't be reached until enough water has been evaporated, so if the berries have a high water content, this process will take longer. Warming the sugar beforehand can help speed things up.

What is the difference between strawberry jam and strawberry preserves?

Jam and preserves are made in very similar ways and have a similar flavor, but there is one major difference. Preserves tend to be made with whole fruit, so the spread has bigger chunks of fruit than a jam, which is often made of mashed fruit for a smoother texture.