Strawberry Freezer Jam is our jam
These are real strawberries that I got right from the farm the other day, and yes, I mashed them up and turned them into Strawberry Freezer Jam. I know, I know…they are so perfect! How could I do such a thing? Well, they are in the peak of the season right now and believe me, we’ve eaten them many other ways: whole, sliced, short-caked, milk-shaked, in a pie, just to name a few. But the thing is, the best way to preserve this peak strawberry flavor so that you can brighten your breakfast on a cold, grey, January morning is to sacrifice a few of these beauties and mash them into jam. My mom has been making this incredibly delicious strawberry freezer jam every June for as long as I can remember and there is no comparison to store-bought jam. Every June when school let out for summer, we would go pick strawberries with the kids and then make jam. Over time, as my kids got older and I got busier, I got squeezed out of the process, as did the picking part. (Funny, how as we get older and the limber little kids get taller, we all realize the actual pain that picking low-to-the-ground strawberries is!) Now the kids are all grown up and too busy themselves, but Mom is still making jam and I have a renewed excitement about the process so I re-joined the effort this year. Like so many things, I was surprised how simple the recipe is and how quickly it came together!
Everything I know about jam making, I learned from my mom. To make jam, what you really want are the absolute ripest berries, like the ones pictured above. They should be solid red all the way through, with very little to no white color. We cut the tops off of the berries and then “mash” them in the food processor, using the pulse action, stopping when they are finely chopped, before they become puree. (In the past, we have mashed them by hand which works, too. But once you go automation, you don’t go back.) Once this step is done, you are halfway there! The only remaining ingredients are sugar, pectin and water (to dissolve the sugar and pectin). These are brought to a boil and then mixed together with the berries for one minute, an important step to ensure that the jam sets up. I have found conflicting recipes online, some that call for an exorbitant amount of sugar, but this recipe below is the one we use and it turns out perfect jam. All that is left to do is pour the jam into jars and wait for it to set up. This Wide-Mouth Canning Funnel makes it easy to quickly fill the jars without dripping sticky jam all over the sides of the jars and countertop.
This recipe, that we have used for many years, is from the Sure Jell brand fruit pectin. In typical fashion, we make four or five batches at a time, to stockpile for winter and also share, so don’t be alarmed when you see the amount of jam jars in these pics. One batch of this recipe will actually make about twelve to fifteen 4 oz. jars of jam. I haven’t experimented yet with Bulk Fruit Pectin, but if you do, know that the Sure Jell packet contains about 1/3 cup of powdered fruit pectin. I am planning to do more experimenting by the time peach season comes around and I’ll share that when I do, because homemade peach jam on ice-cream or yogurt is a necessity for long winter night Netflix marathons.
It really only takes a few hours to set, but they recommend overnight at room temperature. Next, its ready for refrigerator for short term storage (about 3 weeks), freezer for long term (about a year, if you have crazy self-control), or your BELLY if you can’t wait to crack open a jar and start spooning it out immediately. Honestly, I could spend an entire week inventing new ways to eat this jam and photographing it, but it’s summer time and though I wish everything were coming up roses there are also weeds, so here are just a few of my favorites:
- Spooned on multi-grain toast with Squirrely Tail** nut butter, bananas, and pineapple mint. (or your favorite nut butter and mint.)
- Spread on WASA Multigrain Crispbread, with whipped ricotta, lemon basil, and gomasio ( or sesame seeds)
- Stirred into plain yogurt, topped with bananas, blueberries and Kind Peanut Butter Granola
** Squirrely Tail Nut Butter is an artisan nut butter, made in York, PA by Blind Spot Nutbutters. It’s my current favorite, made of cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil and ground flax, and you can find it at some local shops like Relish, on Penn Ave, West Reading, or Weaver’s Orchard, Robeson, PA, or if you are not local you can buy it from them directly here.
- 2 Qt. (8 cups) Fresh ripe strawberries
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 package Sure Jell
- Clean the strawberries and remove stems. Mash the berries, by hand or by pulsing the food processor, until they are finely chopped but not pureed.
- Place sugar, water and fruit pectin in a sauce pan and heat, stirring, over the stove until the mixture dissolves and then comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
- Remove sugar mixture from heat, add 4 cups of prepared strawberries (using dry measure) and stir to combine for 1 minute.
- Pour jam mixture into clean jars, leave a little space at the top (1/2 inch) for freezer expansion. When cool, place lids on jars tightly and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Refrigerate for 3 weeks or freeze for up to one year.