Sometimes I’m a little too ambitious for my own good. I envision myself as this super kitchen woman who makes everything from scratch, has a stocked pantry of homemade goods and has a garden that self-sustains my family.
Yeah, that’s just a dream.
Although I do try and cook from scratch as often as possible, there are times where I just buy ready-made at the store– whether it’s because of convenience or because making it from scratch seems rather, hard. And let’s face it, sometimes buying the ingredients to make the food product itself can seem a little pricy.
That’s why I seriously stress to buy food while it’s in season. When buying food in season, it usually makes the price cheaper — and if you can buy it straight from the farm or through a u-pick, more often than not you can get it at a fraction of the cost. Organic strawberries at the store cost about $6 for a pound and the organic strawberries we picked at the field cost us $1.50 a pound.
I know this won’t be the same for everyone but it’s worth a shot to do a little bit of research before you go out and spend crazy amounts of money on a specific food.
But anyway, back to buying food because they’re convenient. I buy strawberry jelly because it’s easy and the task of actually making homemade strawberry jelly seems really hard — plus, I don’t have a canner.
With a bounty of 21 pounds of fresh strawberries, I couldn’t resist thinking about making some fresh, homemade jelly. I checked the back of the ingredient label on the brand I buy and it consisted of pretty simple ingredients; sugar, strawberries, pectin and citric acid.
I wanted to create the most simple of jellies without having to buy any extra ingredients but there was only one problem — the pectin. Apparently the pectin is what puts the “jell” in jelly. I did some research and came across a few sites which mentioned cooking the berries down for a while; this eventually created a thick jelly-like substance.
I figured I’d give it a shot and try it out. Since I froze 98% of my bounty, I first took out the berries to let them completely thaw. This was nice because it really allowed the juices to be drawn out (I noticed in many recipes they sprinkled sugar on top of the strawberries to draw out the juices).
After they were completely thawed, I put them in a large pot, mashed them well with a potato masher, added 1 1/2 cups honey and stirred. I stirred and stirred and stirred my little heart out for about 45 minutes, day dreaming of thick, jelly to spread on toast and butter.
When the strawberries became a thicker consistency, I took them off the stove and then placed them in mason jars. I let it sit overnight and when I took it out it had a nice, thick consistency but it was nowhere similar to store-bought jelly. I would imagine that’s where the pectin comes in but I was happy with the thickness of it.
That’s why I decided to call this a homemade strawberry spread instead of a jelly. The taste is so fresh and perfectly sweet from the honey and natural sweetness of the strawberries that you’ll forget it hasn’t set like normal store-bought jelly. I promise!
You can very well put any extra you may have in the freezer to save so you can enjoy fresh homemade jelly all year round. If it lasts that long, of course. Just take it out of the freezer and let it thaw before using it.
I also tried an alternative method making jelly by adding lemon (which contains natural pectin), gelatin (to create more of a jelly-factor) and butter (to clarify and help set). Honestly, it didn’t set like I wanted and I have to say, the simple approach of cooking the strawberries until they reduce into a thicker consistency is the way to go.
The jelly on the left is the one with the lemon and the jelly on the right is the one without anything. Both tasted great but I preferred the way the simpler jelly set.
Homemade Strawberry Spreads Make Perfect Gifts!
Homemade anything would be an excellent gift for a birthday or holiday like Mother’s Day or Christmas. I’ve included some printable labels if you want to make these for your mom or grandmother this Mother’s Day.
- 2 lbs organic strawberries (if frozen, thaw out completely before use)
- 1½ cup honey (you could use raw but it will be heated. Just make sure it's unfiltered)
- In a large pot, add organic strawberries and mash with a potato masher until you reach the consistency you desire
- Turn on medium heat and cook for a few minutes until it's soupy
- Add in honey; let boil and continue to stir until it reaches a thick consistency. *note: this could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
- Take off heat, let cool for a few minutes then transfer to mason jars leaving about an inch and a half from the top.
- Once completely cooled, place however many jars in the freezer for later use or give as gifts. For instructions on how to make the printable labels, read the next recipe card
For printable labels:
- sticker paper (I found an adhesive sticker paper at Michael’s that “turns anything into a sticker”
- twine (optional)
- printable labels (found below)
— May This Jelly Be As Sweet… (Mom)
—May This Jelly Be As Sweet… (Grandma)
—How Sweet It is to be Loved By You (Printable Label)
- To save the printable label to your computer, click on the link provided above then right click on the photo and click “save image as”
- Open up a word document and eye ball the size area you’ll be putting the sticker on to the size of the label. You may have to adjust a little bit.
- Print out the label using best quality for your printer
- Follow directions on the sticker paper for making “anything into a sticker”
- Place on desired mason jar (these 8oz quilted jars are cute or these
- If you have twine, wrap it around the jar a few times and tie into a bow