Celebrate strawberry season with the perfect pantry staple – a boozy Honey Rum Strawberry Jam! Bright, sweet, and wonderfully addictive, this lovely preserve will remind you of summer of all winter long.
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It might be fleeting, but strawberry season is still here!
Strawberry season came a little early on the east coast this year, and at least in Delaware, some crops suffered with a sudden cold snap. Farmers I’ve chatted with aren’t sure how long the season will last, but hopefully your local crops are doing better where you are. Even if not, this is still the best time to buy them at your grocery store, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Eat strawberries every way you can – in smoothies, pies, daiquiris, straight out of the pint – it all counts.
And then make some into this absolutely delicious Honey Rum Strawberry Jam so you can eat them all winter long.
I know, you can preserve things all year round. Most stores carry fruits and vegetables no matter the season, right? There is something extra special about catching fruits and vegetables as they’re in season though. I love capturing them in preserves and pickles, and enjoying them out of the pantry as the seasons change and farmer’s markets close their stalls. Perhaps it’s my addiction to things labeled “limited edition” (see any of my past nerdy collecting hobbies), but spring and summer feel like a race to capture all the seasonal produce before it slips through my grasp. Sure, I can get figs at the store throughout the year. But I’d rather buy all of the scant six pounds my one reliable vendor has for that one week they managed to carry them at my local market. I get a little crazy about it. I admit it.
But no one complains then they eat preserves like this one.
Jams and Preserving
While I love pickles, there are few things I love making more than jams. You can do so many things to adapt the recipes, and the applications are impressive. Aside from adorning charcuterie plates (my favorite snack), you can use them in cookies, make them into savory-sweet glazes, and mix them into cocktails. By the end of summer, my cabinets are full of more jam than I can handle, and come winter I am giving everyone I know little jars as holiday presents. For someone as addicted to long-term planning as me, it’s the perfect arrangement.
When I realized June is jam-making month for the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge, I was elated. I knew the first thing to do was perfect my Honey Rum Strawberry Jam. I only had a few jars from a small batch last year, and they went quickly. They were so good that figuring out a larger batch recipe was a must so I could spread the love come winter gift-giving season.
As I’m posting this, I realize it’s the third recipe with rum that I’ve posted in the last few weeks. That wasn’t intentional, and I promise to add back some more liquor diversity after this post. On the plus side, if you like my recipes but don’t drink a lot of rum yourself, at least you have a nice list of ways to use up that bottle now!
Honey Sweetened Jams
This Honey Rum Strawberry Jam is adapted from Marisa McClellan’s small batch Honey Sweetened Strawberry Jam from her wonderful publication, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces. If you haven’t checked out her website Food In Jars or her books, I insist you do so (as soon as you’re done here!).
For the most part, you can substitute honey for sugar in a lot of jam recipes, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you do so. First, jams made with honey have a harder time reaching a gel point (or “set”) than those with sugar. You might end up with a runnier jam than you’d have otherwise, so if that is a problem for you honey might not be the way to go.
I knew getting a good set on a larger batch of jam would be difficult if only honey was used, so for this recipe I used half and half honey and granulated sugar. I’ll be completely honest, the batch in these photos still ended up a little on the runnier side, but an hour in the fridge firmed things up to the spreadable consistency I like. For me, that’s no real loss. To help combat this, use the largest preserving pot you can to allow for the greatest surface area while cooking the jam. My go-to is a large Le Creuset Dutch Oven.
While you could safely can this recipe using only honey as your two cups of sweetener, I can make no guarantees on how it will set. Strawberries don’t have a lot of natural pectin, so you may end up with more of a syrup or delicious ice cream topping rather than a jam. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I was going for.
The other thing to keep in mind is that jams made with honey have a shorter fridge-life once opened than those made with sugar. Expect a honey-sweetened jam to only last 2-3 weeks from the time you pop the seal, rather than the 4-6 weeks you can usually get out of a sugar sweetened jam. If you take longer than that to work through a larger jar of jam, I suggest using quarter pint jars for honey-sweetened jams. Note that a properly processed and sealed honey-sweetened jam will keep for up to a year in a cool, dark place, just like most other preserves.
Honey Rum Strawberry Jam
Next to eating them straight out of the basket, Honey Rum Strawberry Jam is the perfect use for this season’s most popular berry. Your future winter self with thank you when the summer ends and you still have jars of this to dip your spoon into.
What’s your favorite use of strawberry? What about strawberry preserves? Let me know in the comments!
Honey Rum Strawberry Jam
Makes about 4 half pints
- 3 lb strawberries, hulled and chopped
- 1 cup honey (I used local clover honey)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 10-12 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
- 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice
- 1 1/2 oz dark rum
Combine the strawberries with the honey and sugar in a large, non-reactive pot and stir in the thyme leaves. Let it sit for 15 minutes (or up to overnight in the fridge) to macerate (a fancy name for “get all nice and juicy”). I usually use the same pot I plan to cook the jam in, but if you plan to refrigerate the mixture overnight I suggest using a glass bowl instead, as you do not want to heat anything directly from the fridge over your stove top.
The mixture should look syrupy and delicious. Add the lemon juice and heat the mixture in your non-reactive pot over medium high heat. Stir regularly for 40-50 minutes until it reduces and reaches its gel point, which should be at around 220°F. A spoon should be able to be dragged across the jam without immediately rushing back to fill the space.
Once the jam has reached your preferred consistency, add the rum and continue to cook for only 2-3 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Using proper canning procedures, pour into prepared jars leaving a ¼ inch headspace, wipe the rims clean, place on the lids, and tighten the rings to finger-tip tightness. Process for 10 minutes in a water bath canner to seal.
Properly sealed jars will keep for up to one year in a cool dark place. Once opened, store in the fridge and eat within 2-3 weeks.
Want to make a small batch? You can essentially halve the recipe, but in that case I would eliminate the sugar. Use 1 quart (about 1 pound) of strawberries, 1 cup honey, 5 thyme sprigs, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1 ounce of dark rum. Follow the recipe as written, but start checking for proper set 20-30 minutes after you start cooking the jam as there is less to heat. Fill and process the jars as written.
New to preserving and making jams? Here are some great resources to get you started!
- All of Marisa McClellan’s Cookbooks:
- Saving the Season by Kevin West
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry
- A simple Home Preserving Kit
- A Large Non-Reactive Pot, like an enameled Dutch Oven (Le Creuset and Lodge both offer options) or a stainless steel jam pot.
- A pot for processing the jars in a water bath – you can use a true water bath canner and rack, or if you’re like me, your largest stainless steel stock pot with a handy blossom trivet in the bottom.