Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam

So before we get to this recipe, I need your help.  Don’t worry, nothing major but it has to do with this recipe.  I have made this 4 times now, all with slight variations but I have kept the base the same.  What I can’t figure out is why they will not freeze.  I have had a few jars in the freezer for close to 3 weeks now, and they will not freeze.  What mad kitchen scientist out there can tell me why?  It is driving me nuts because I just can’t figure it out.  So pretty please, if you know, leave me a comment or toss out any ideas you may have.  Oh and just to say, I love it that is stays so cold and doesn’t freeze though, it makes eating it so much more fun.  Especially since I have been using it to slather all over my Banana Bread.

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

One major note for this recipe, the quality of your honey will make a huge difference.  HUGE.  So make sure you get a really amazing, quality sourced and good flavored honey.  My favorite so far has been the local orange blossom honey I get at my farmers market. Also, you can substitute the strawberries with any fruits or compliment them.  The grapes are used for the natural pectin to help thicken.  Ideally, cranberries would be the best option instead of grapes, but they are not in season and I couldn’t find them anywhere.  So grapes it was and it worked wonderfully.

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

I really am out of things to say, but I am still frustrated because I don’t know why this won’t freeze.  Haha so please leave me a comment with any ideas you may have.  Google has failed me on this one and I am relying heavily on you.  No pressure, haha, yes there is tons.  What is the answer?

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

4.9 from 10 reviews
Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes (150 grams)
  • 4 cups strawberries, quartered (537 grams)
  • 1 vanilla bean, slit down middle
  • 1 cup raw organic honey (can adjust depending on your berries)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 slices peppered bacon cooked crispy, diced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place your grapes in a food processor or blender and process until completely pureed
  2. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add your strawberries, vanilla bean, and honey
  3. Place over medium/medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring often
  4. Let your jam boil for 15-20 minutes ensuring you stir often as it starts to thicken
  5. Reduce your heat to low and let simmer, uncovered for 20 more minutes stirring occasionally as your jam continues to thicken
  6. To test to see if your jam is done, dip a spoon in your jam and place on a plate in the freezer for 5 minutes. If the jam thickened and didn't pour off the spoon, it is ready
  7. If your jam was not ready, continue to simmer on low until it is
  8. Once done, remove your pan from the heat and stir in the juice of 1/2 lemon
  9. You can also stir in your bacon bits right now if you are going to add them
  10. Let your sauce cool where it will continue to thicken
  11. Transfer to sterilized glass jars ensuring you leave at least an inch of space on the top if freezing and tightly secure lid
  12. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for a month. If you are into canning you can also follow that route for storage
  13. Each batch will net you a different amount depending on how long you let it simmer, this batch got me 12 ounces
Notes
I prefer to keep this in the freezer as the colder it is the better it tastes to me. Does anybody know why it doesn't freeze?

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71 Comments

  1. Love this recipe. I hope I can use my pressure canner for this recipe as I would like to make a large batch for the pantry. My family also raises bees so I wanted to make mention that honey does not freeze. It has very little water content so it will thicken but not freeze. However in refrigerated temps it will crystallize. So better to freeze than refrigerate.

  2. Hey, you mentioned cranberries as a substitute for the grapes. Does that only apply to fresh cranberries or does dried cranberries work?

  3. Do you have to freeze it? Can you do water bath instead? I don’t have much freezer space and prefer traditional canning instead. :)

      1. I don’t know if i’m commenting right but regarding your jam not freezing. I have found the higher and more raw the honey the less it freezes. I’m sure in the hive it should be able to withstand sub zero temperature x

  4. I used this basic recipe and made jam from cherry plums from my brother’s Oregon orchard. It is fantastic!! I didn’t have to use any extra grapes, etc for the pectin, since I had all the skins. Also I didn’t put bacon in this one, but hope to try another version with bacon :) Thanks for the basic recipe! Oh and mine set up very nicely…not super thick but froze well and is just thicker than a sauce when thawed. It made a yummy ice cream topping too!!

  5. I have to disagree with the above comments about the honey not freezing. I make homemade strawberry jam and it has honey in it and mine freezes. SO I do not know why people are saying that I have had no problem having my jam set in the freezer.

  6. Hey George! I’m a jam-maker but haven’t been since going Paleo 8 months ago. Thanks for the recipe, which I tampered with. :) Instead of grapes, I used dried figs, ground in the food processor. Because they’re quite sweet, I reduced the honey by half a cup and used a quarter cup maple sugar instead. No vanilla bean but a 1/4 tsp cinnamon. It sets up a little better than the honey alone, and the dried figs have a lot of natural pectin. Great basis for lots of jam ideas, thanks!

  7. Made this Sunday night and took it Monday morning to a breakfast at my sisters. We all loved it!!! I ended up giving it to my pregnant sister because she loved it so much… She was eating it wih a spoon! :) I plan to make more tonight from the strawberries I picked out of the garden last night. Thanks for the recipe. I love it and will have fun experimenting with it.

    The not freezing is due to the honey, as stated by others above. You could always add pectin to it so it sets up like a jelly more. I myself really enjoyed the loose, jam like consistency.

      1. You can also use vanilla bean paste. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. It’s great for baking, I sub it for vanilla if I want those beautiful vanilla bean flecks.

  8. Try experimenting with some quince or even apples (roast them first to sweeten and intensify the flavor) to add to the mixture. Both have natural pectin in them which help things to set. Not sure how it will counter with the honey, but worth a try.

  9. First…I am so excited I found your website! I am adjusting my diet to be gluten-free or at least cut back on it. This is forcing me to actually cook, which for some reason is intimidating. Second, I wanted to ask about freezing jam in general. How long can you freeze it before it loses flavor? Or does it? I can’t wait to try this and everyone who has posted on here has provided a lot of helpful information. Thanks,
    Nicole

  10. Have just made this, and is excellent! I didn’t have a vanilla bean so subed with 2 tea of organic vanilla essence and used 1/2 c of organic coconut sugar – I don’t have a big sweet tooth – and it turned out perfect.

  11. Honey won’t freeze. Alcohol will also not freeze. So if you’re trying to create a creamy frozen concoction like a sorbet – honey or alcohol is your best friend to keep your ice cream from becoming ice cube.

    1. Its true… In all likelihood the same reason that most microorganisms won’t grow in honey (no spoiling) and why it won’t freeze…. is its low water content.

  12. In answering why your recipe won’t freeze. I freeze grapes and they only freeze like slush, so it is probably the grapes.

  13. George,
    You really need to use Pomona’s Pectin. It is a two part process that can be used with freezer jam or regular canning type jam. It pays to read the direction very well and follow them carefully. I have been using this pectin for nearly 10 years of jamming. You can use any type of sweetener you choose. Frozen fruit works well with Pomona’s Pectin as well as fresh. Keep in mind the color of the jam may degrade over time, but the taste of the jam in phenomenal. there is no corn based sweeteners in Pomona, like store bought. I am going to have to try the grape strawberry jam. I make mine with very little honey to be diabetic friendly. Can’t wait for the organic fruit to come in season. Best of lick on going civilian. Take one last picture of you in your uniform, a beginning and ending of special time in your life. Think Mother’s Day, after all mom’s are sappy too.

  14. It’s most likely the raw honey that inhibits the freezing.
    I made a similar discovery when I made my own jam a couple years ago. Looks soooo good!

    1. I agree, I feel it is the honey. I make a plethora of jams and preserves, when I have used honey, it does not set up as well although I have always used the regular canning merhod and not made freezer jams. There are specific pectins you can purchase when making freezer jams. If you aren’t keeping them indefinately and don’t want to can them with the water bath method, they will be fine in the fridge for a few months. Sounds delish! Going to make some. Good luck!!!!

  15. Hi, George,
    I can and freeze all summer and fall at our house. Have you ever bought a can of frozen juice- like Welch’s, etc.?? The fruit juice is never frozen solid, but is sort of a “soft freeze.” I’ve read a lot on the subject of freezing jams (as we freeze some of ours every year- especially love Strawberry Freezer Jam!) Apparently the reason the fruit jams never freeze hard is due to the high amount of sugar solids…they don’t freeze hard in an everyday freezer. That being said, it’s also my understanding that a freezer set down to, for example, 0 degrees, would allow your fruit and sugar solids to freeze harder. Not to worry…it is held at a cold enough temperature to preserve it. Can’t wait to try your recipe! Thanks so much for sharing. And hoping for your continued success as you venture into your new, exciting career. Can’t wait to see what wonderful, new things you will accomplish as you fulfill what plans God has in store for you. Thank you for your service to our country. THIS girl, for one, (as the mother of a gal in the USAF) appreciates your sacrifice. xoxoXXX ~~Wendy

  16. This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try this weekend :) Also George in reference to your troubles you were speaking on in your last e-mail…. 1) THANK YOU for your service, my husband is active duty Air Force for 6 years now and being a military family isn’t easy but it’s been a wonderful experience for us thus far. 2) You’re so super brave and I’m very proud of you! We’ve followed your website for awhile now and tried so many things, all fabulous. I know you’re going to do great. 3) We can’t wait to follow your journey and I hope you share the ups and downs with us. My husband currently has 3 more years on his enlistment and goes back and forth everyday on whether he will re-enlist after that point… His dream is to open a Crossfit gym and he already coaches part-time when his schedule allows it, but it would be really hard for him to go from military salary to scary small business ownership. It’s a big jump. Look forward to cheering you on in all of your future endeavors! Sending love & prayers your way!

  17. I just made a batch of this jam and it’s amazing!!!! Followed the recipe exactly and I couldn’t be happier with it! Can’t wait to give a jar to my boyfriend when I see him in the morning :)

  18. That sounds amazing! My guy’s grandfather actually keeps his own bees and harvests their honey, so I’ve been spoiled for a few years now. It does make a huge difference in recipes! You took such pretty photos of your jam — I could practically lick it off of the knife! :]

  19. I was curious if there was a reason you used honey in place of the white sugar called for in traditional recipes, instead of swapping in organic coconut/palm sugar which would keep it paleo? I have to guess that the coconut sugar would solve the jelling problem that the liquid honey causes.

  20. I’m curious if there’s a reason you substituted honey for the traditional white sugar called for in most recipes, instead of choosing organic coconut or palm sugar. Wouldn’t they be a better swap if you want jam to firm up?

  21. Thanks for asking the question about freezing! I learned a lot from your readers today! lol
    Strawberry preserves have always been my favorite. Will definitely try this one George. Thanks!

  22. I always use Pomonas and honey as well when making strawberry jam. I have never added grapes so cannot comment on that but Pomona’s is an excellent natural pectin. Mine freezes well. You will love it!!!!

  23. Most years I make a Cranberry Orange Jam for Holiday gifts, mind you, this isn’t a REAL food recipe, I’m just now coming into my own in that regard, and will have to look into altering it. That said, I learned something this last year because it didn’t set, and I couldn’t figure out what I’d done differently than previous years to cause it not to set, this recipe uses Ball Liquid Pectin. What I found out was that this year I put the whole mix into the blender and “zitted” it down to full out puree, I hadn’t done that in previous years, and because I did that, it didn’t set, and here’s why. Apparently fruits that are naturally high in pectin, like cranberry, can loose their “pectinyness” (how’d ya like my new word there) if the fruits themselves are “destroyed”, say by, me pureeing them, I destroyed their ability to gel. I can’t remember where I found this out, but it made perfect sense. I don’t have any info on the honey, but the grapes may have had issue gelling because of being pureed. Going at this with a potato masher and just mashing thoroughly may be a better gel, than actually “cutting” the fruit with a blender, I believe that this is where I messed up with my Cranberry Orange Jam. Mind you, I water bath my Jams so they are set for a year. I have two questions for those out there in internet land and for you George. First, since you’re using a raw honey, could you wait to stir that in until it’s cooler so as to not destroy the natural healthfulness that comes from raw honey? Second, could you then safely water bath it, (I’m afraid the answer here is no) without it destroying the beneficial organisms, and it be shelf stable for a year? I ask this because raw honey is quite pricey, and I understand that the flavor -really- matters for this recipe, however, if you’re going to destroy what makes the raw honey, well raw, could you use a still tasty but slightly lower quality honey that was less expensive, and still come out with a tasty jam? If you cook the honey and then water bath it, I’m certain this would make a nice quality jam no matter what, it’s definitely one for the recipe books. Look forward to trying this one out in my Ball Jam Maker :) Thank you George for sharing this, it looks delicious, and I’m not even a huge fan of Strawberries, but my hubby and kids sure are!

  24. Has anyone tested this with frozen berries? I was just thinking of making this for gifts during the Christmas holidays but will not be able to get fresh local berries but I would have frozen ones.

    1. I think frozen berries work better for jam than fresh. :-) Freezing and thawing breaks down the cell walls so you don’t have to cook them as much to get the right texture. Done right, jam from frozen berries can taste “fresher” than jam from fresh berries.

  25. Another rich source of pectin comes from apples; the smaller and/or greener, the better. For big kicks, find a crab apple tree this summer and fill a pot. Add a little water and simmer until the fruit falls apart. The water will be full of pectin. :-)

    Citrus can also be used to add pectin, particularly in the peel (traditionally, marmalade was made with whole, unpeeled oranges and no added pectin). Next time, you might try adding finely grated lemon peel instead of, or alongside, the lemon juice.

    Regarding the freezing issue – freezer jams normally work by somewhat reducing the amount of sugar compared to non-freezer jam. You should try tinkering with the quantity of honey in your recipe.

    For a foodie taste sensation, the next time you make this, stir in some finely chopped basil after you remove the pan from the stove.

  26. I’m not sure why but when I make grape jam (just grapes and sugar) it doesn’t freeze either. And since honey only gets hard in the freezer, I would imagine it’s from a combination of the two. Too much natural pectin in the grapes and the honey. And not enough actual liquid to freeze! Just a stay at home moms opinion and observation from years of cooking, baking, and canning! btw this sounds super yummy! I can’t wait to try it (hopefully this weekend!)!

  27. Can someone please tell me why all paleo recipes for jam, never use Pomona’s pectin? (http://www.pomonapectin.com/) This is an all natural, citrus based pectin that is activated by calcium (the mineral, not milk). This pectin works with any sugar substitute and produces a jam with the texture that everyone is familiar with regular jams, but you don’t need to freeze the jam or anything funny like that. You can replace ALL sugar with syrup, frozen juice concentrate, sucanat, honey, dried fruits or artificial sweeteners (shock… some of these items never would happen on a paleo diet, but i need to show the flexibility), and this stuff ALWAYS gels. I have used it with a few of the paleo recipes for jam I have found on line, whose flavors are AWESOME, but I prefer my jam more gelled than what the pictures show.

    From my research citrus is allowed in a paleo diet. And the calcium is a mineral and not dairy based.

    Thanks for clarifying this.. And I hope this brightens your world in regards to all the options you have available to you for making paleo jams and jellies in your future.

    1. I’ve wondered the same thing! I make my jams with Pomona’s and honey and they all turn out great. I’m sticking to it. :)

  28. That is fascinating that it won’t freeze! Originally I thought that you might have used vanilla extract that had alcohol, but then I saw the recipe. My thought is that the acid of the lemon juice with sugars in the fruit create a similar situation. I’m not a scientist though. :)
    This looks great man.
    Reid

  29. The most likely reason that the jam is not freezing is due to the honey.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey

    “At very low temperatures, honey will not freeze solid. Instead, as the temperatures become colder, the viscosity of honey increases. Like most viscous liquids, the honey will become thick and sluggish with decreasing temperature. At −20 °C (−4 °F), honey may appear or even feel solid, but it will continue to flow at very slow rates.”

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