Jam out with this sweet strawberry spread!
Place 2 small plates in freezer to chill. Use knife to hull strawberries. Cut each strawberry into quarters.
Transfer strawberries to large saucepan. Use potato masher to mash until fruit is mostly broken down. Add sugar and lemon juice and use rubber spatula to stir until combined.
Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to boil. Cook, stirring often with rubber spatula, until mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and slide saucepan to cool burner. Let cool for 2 minutes.
Remove 1 plate from freezer. Carefully spoon small amount of jam onto chilled plate (ask an adult for help—jam mixture will be VERY hot). Return plate to freezer for 2 minutes.
Remove plate from freezer and drag your finger through jam. If your finger leaves distinct trail that doesn’t close up, jam is done! If jam is still runny, return saucepan to medium heat and cook jam for 2 to 3 minutes more, then repeat test with second chilled plate.
Let jam cool in saucepan for 15 minutes. Use ladle to transfer jam to jar with tight-fitting lid (ask an adult for help). Let jam cool completely, about 30 minutes. Place lid on jar.
Blueberry Refrigerator Jam
Use 1 pound blueberries instead of strawberries. Do not mash in step 2. Reduce cooking time in step 3 to 10 minutes.
Peach Refrigerator Jam
Use 1 pound ripe peaches instead of strawberries. Pit peaches and chop into ½‑inch pieces (no need to peel peaches). Reduce cooking time in step 3 to 15 minutes.
As jam cooks, some of the water found in the fruit heats up, turns into steam, and evaporates. The longer you cook the jam, the more water evaporates and the thicker your jam will be. The plate test gives you a preview of the finished texture of your jam when it cools down. The freezer-chilled plate cools a small spoonful of hot jam, allowing you to run your finger through the jam. If the jam is runny, it still has too much water in it—keep cooking until the jam thickens up (or “sets”) in your second plate test.
Have you ever wondered about the difference between jam and jelly? Wonder no more! Jam is made by cooking chopped or crushed fruit with sugar until it’s spreadable but still has little pieces of fruit in it. Jelly, on the other hand, is made with fruit juice and sugar, so its texture is supersmooth, with no fruit pieces or bits. There are other kinds of fruit spreads, too, such as marmalade (made with orange peels), preserves (made with large pieces of fruit or whole berries in a sweet syrup), and fruit butter (made with fruit that’s cooked for a long time and pureed to a thick, smooth texture).