Fresh Strawberry-Citrus Refrigerator Jam for the Kid-Grin Win

refrigerator jam hero

When it comes to fabulous fresh fruit, summer is positively bananas! And all of it—from jewel-like berries to sunny stone fruit—is perfect for a batch of kid-tastic refrigerator jam.

No need to be a kitchen pro. DIY’ing this delightful condiment is actually quite easy—make it after breakfast and swirl it into your crew’s yogurt by lunch. Nixing the elaborate canning process saves time that you can spend running through the sprinkler together instead!

Oranges add zing to our fresh strawberry-citrus refrigerator jam (full recipe below)—just grab a tub of berries from a local farmer’s market or grocery store and find out for yourself:

refrigerator jam ingredients

Five ingredients are all you need to cook up your own batch of luscious spreadable summer bounty! The acidic lemons are actually a key element of the setting process (a.k.a. getting your jam to properly gel) and spoilage prevention. Ditto for sugar’s starring role: sure, it adds some sweetness, but more importantly, if your jam has little or no sugar (or is made with an alternative like honey), it may end up runny and won’t last as long in your pantry.

The pectin is yet another gelling agent. It naturally occurs in fruit (oranges have a lot, and strawberries have a little), but adding more in powdered form allows you to cook your jam fast, which helps retain the fruit’s flesh flavor and vibrant hue.

Like variety? Have a go at our version and then try subbing in raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apricots, or peaches for the strawberries.

mixing sugar and strawberries together in bowl on cutting board

Begin by mixing the chopped strawberries and orange segments with the granulated sugar in a large saucepan and let it sit for 10 minutes. The sugar draws out the fruit juices, which will give the jam that to-die-for spreadable texture.

Prepare your lemons beforehand or while waiting: Use one lemon to collect the zest and juice you’ll need, and then peel, seed, and chop up the other lemon. Set this prepared citrus aside while you add the powdered pectin to your fruit and sugar mixture, and stir thoroughly.

jam mixture all ready to go

After adding the pectin, bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, add the lemon elements, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

When ready, let the jam cool for 10 minutes before spooning it into a jar or two. Let it cool completely before indulging, or cover the jars with lids and store in the fridge for later.

let's eat kids at table with refrigerator jam

In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches important social skills like passing items, sharing, being patient, and saying “please” and “thank you,” and it helps them listen to their own bodies and hunger cues.

Giving kids the freedom to serve themselves can also inspire them to try new foods. Of course, sweet and fruity jam typically appeals to most kids, but including it may motivate them to try something else new, like whole wheat toast, breakfast quinoa, or salad dressing.

Sure, there will likely be some spills when children take the lead, but also a lot of smiles.

girl with big bite of jam on toast

Remember: You’re not tackling the proper canning procedure with this recipe, so the final product will need to be kept in the refrigerator for up to 30 days rather than for months on your shelf. But we’re talking fresh, homemade jam here, so chances are it won’t last long anyway!

FRESH STRAWBERRY-CITRUS REFRIGERATOR JAM

Yields: About 1 pint

Total time: 20 minutes prep/13 minutes cooking/40 minutes cooling

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup orange segments, seeded and chopped (about 2 large oranges)
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole medium lemons
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons powdered pectin

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large saucepan, add the strawberries, oranges, and sugar. Stir it all together and then let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Collect 1 teaspoon of zest from one of the lemons. Cut the same lemon in half and squeeze to get 2 teaspoons of juice. Peel and section the second lemon, and then chop up the segments, removing all seeds as you go. Set the zest, juice, and chopped segments aside.
  3. Add the pectin to your fruit mixture and stir thoroughly. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium heat, and allow it to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the lemon zest, juice, and chopped segments. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for 10 minutes. Spoon the jam into two 8-ounce canning jars or 1 pint-size jar and let it cool completely (about 30 minutes). Cover with lids, and keep in the refrigerator for up to one month. Enjoy!

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