Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Not much beats some amazing strawberry freezer jam. Especially when you can get good strawberries! The key to making this a non-preservative/added in junk recipe as well as a financially viable option is to
get the strawberries on sale- or if you can pick/grow your own even better. Strawberries are on sale right now at my local store for $1/package so I stocked up and made a ton of freezer jam. We use it a lot for PB&J, and also mixed with cut up bananas and poured over pancakes (my favorite!).
Freezer jam is pretty darn easy to make. If you're wanting to learn how to can foods, freezer jam is a good place to start. You don't have to process the jars in a water bath, but they do have to be kept in the freezer or fridge and are not shelf stable. (you can make jam that you process in a water bath and then it's shelf stable until it's opened)
For starters you'll need to wash the strawberries. Then cut off the stems and slice them into chunks. Using either your blender or a potato masher smash up the strawberries until you have the chunkiness you like. (remember jams are supposed to have some chunks) I like mine a little more on the smooth side so I use a blender and blend it until the last chunk disappears into the blender then turn it off right away. This gives a smooth jam with still a few chunks. The best way I have found is to have stations like show in the picture below. My daughter was helping me do the blender part so we had bowls with stages. If you are doing it all yourself then it'd probably save room and time to do one step at a time.
Once all the strawberries are smashed up or blended how you like, it's time to add the sugar! Be sure to read the instructions on your box of Pectin (what gives the jam a jelly like texture) Some brands require different amounts of sugar. So you want to make sure you're putting in the amount it tells you to. There are low sugar options of Pectin, but I wouldn't recommend adding less sugar than it calls for because it could affect how the jam sets up. For the ones that I did it was 4 cups of sugar for every 2 cups of smashed strawberries. (I used the liquid pectin) You then mix the strawberries & sugar together well and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring every once in awhile.
After it has set for 10 minutes and is all mixed together well you'll want to add in the pectin. Depending on the type of pectin you use it may have it's own instructions. For me I used a liquid pectin that called for 2 T of lemon juice per batch (a batch is 2 c. strawberries, 4 c. sugar, and 1 pouch of liquid pectin) and one pouch of the liquid pectin. So all I had to do was add the pectin and lemon juice and it was ready to put into jars. Pectin that is in powder form will have you boil water and mix it with the pectin powder. Again, just follow what yours says and you'll be fine.
Next just spoon the jam into your jars or freezer containers, wipe the rim before putting on the seal/lid, and pop them into the freezer or enjoy right away! Be sure to label the lid and put the month/year on too.