Monday, June 30, 2008

Recipe Monday: Strawberry Freezer Jam

Recently, I have been listening to a song called "Strawberry Street" by Lili Haydn and thoroughly enjoyed it. Nice light summer fare, much like strawberries themselves. Since strawberries are in season, I considered making some strawberry jam. I recalled my grandmother gave me some strawberry jam for my housewarming, loved the jam and called to ask her for the recipe. She informed me "Oh, I used the recipe on the Sure-Jell box." Well, it was the insert inside the box of pectin, but I followed the directions to have the yummiest, freshest, sweetest, most delicious strawberry jam ever! It really does taste better when you pick the strawberries and make it yourself. I have made two batches already and froze the strawberries for a third to make in the future. If only my freezer were larger, I would pick more strawberries to make more jam! Even though this recipe is easily available on the web, I wanted to share it with you and include tips I might have appreciated the first time I made the jam.

2 pints strawberries
1 package fruit pectin (e.g., Sure-Jell or Ball)
4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
containers (plastic or glass)

  1. Wash and rinse jam containers with tightly fitting lids. Good sizes to use are 1-2 cups.

  2. Wash strawberries and pat dry. Discard stems and crush enough strawberries to measure 2 cups. Use a potato masher and crush one layer of strawberries at a time. Note: Strawberries squirt juice quite readily. Wear an apron or shirt you do not mind getting stained.
    If you use a food processor, pulse to finely chop. Do not puree. The jam should have bits of fruit in it.

  3. Measure exactly 2 cups of strawberries and pour into a large bowl. This bowl should have an 8-cup capacity, better if 10-12 cups.

  4. Measure exactly 4 cups of sugar into a separate bowl.

  5. Stir sugar into crushed strawberries. Mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  6. Stir 1 box of pectin into 3/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. (Pectin may start out lumpy.) Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil the mixture for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
    Note: Wait to boil the water and pectin until there is only a minute left with the sugar-strawberry mixture. The pectin goes into solution quickly and boils in only a minute. If you start the pectin mix any sooner, it will boil too long and the pectin can break down when heated for longer than recommended.

  7. Stir the hot pectin mixture into the strawberry-sugar mixture. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved, ~3 minutes. A few sugar crystals may remain, but the mixture should not be grainy.

  8. Pour the jam mixture into the prepared containers, leaving a 1/2 inch space at the top for freezing expansion. Cover the containers. I used glass jars, 1-pint sizes and 1-cup sizes, which both worked well.

  9. Let the containers with the strawberry jam mixture at room temperature for 24 hours until set. Refrigerate jam for up to 3 weeks. Otherwise, store in the freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator.

Yield: 5 cups
Time investment: 30-45 minutes

I could barely wait until the jam was set, but I toasted some homemade bread, spread on some butter and then slathered on the strawberry jam. Delicious! I have jam and toast for breakfast and dinner every day for the last three days and do not regret it one bit. I estimated my cost for two batches of strawberry jam was $13, and the freshness and the taste are steps above anything purchased from the store.

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