April 6, 2010

Strawberry Freezer Jam

I was part of a "twitter party" recently and we were discussing healthy snacks for kids. Besides being completely overwhelmed by more than twenty people "talking" at once, it was really cool. I am always intrigued by this topic. (Hopefully some of you got to watch the Jamie Oliver cooking program that I mentioned before.) I wasn't sure if the twitter party would be a bunch of experts talking about snacks or a bunch of moms looking for ideas. It was a good mix of both. I picked up a few tips and hopefully I passed a few on to others. I know one topic that came up was making foods at home instead of buying them. To this end, I would like to share last year's crop of strawberry jam. This year I did actual pressure canned jam, but I really like the fresh taste (and ease) of freezer jam. It's easy because you don't have to "can" the stuff (ie, put it in special jars and heat seal them). The best recipe for strawberry freezer jam is right in the package of Sure Jell. I like using the Certo package because it's the easiest and faster of the group, but you can buy the regular powdered version and follow those directions. In making jam, you know exactly what goes into it (a LOT of sugar unless you buy the low sugar kind of jell) fresh fruit and pectin - that's pretty much it.

Whatever kind you make, strawberries are coming into season and this jam tastes like summer. Not at all like the kind you buy from a store. It's so *strawberryied* tasting it's perfect as a topping for ice cream.  Or blend the two together and you have strawberry milkshakes. Put it on top of waffles, sourdough pancakes, or my personal favorite...a slice of freshly baked honey wheat bread, cream cheese and a dollop of this stuff.  Yum!!

Strawberry Freezer Jam

2 cups crushed strawberries
4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1 pouch Certo fruit pectin (by Sure Jell)

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

You need containers to hold 4 cups of jam. Wash and dry the jars or plastic (best to use the dishwasher). {As you can tell, I just reused some old jars I had already. When I'm actually pressure canning, I use the ball jars, but this is just going to go into your freezer, so they don't need to seal, but they do need to be clean.}

Clean and crush strawberries thoroughly. {I use a potato masher because it leaves me with big chunks of strawberries which my family loves. If you do it in the food processor or blender you will end up more like stawberry jelly with some seeds. It's personal preference like pulp or no pulp in OJ.} Measure exactly 2 cups smashed fruit into large bowl. Stir in sugar. Let stand 10 min., stirring occasionally. {This is why making freezer jam tastes so good, it isn't cooked.}

Mix pectin and lemon juice, add to strawberries. {This is the only place I deviate from the recipe. I just add both of those to the sweetened strawberries.}

Fill all containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of top. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or in freezer up to 1 year. For the jars that you freeze, just thaw them in refrigerator before using.

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