Mar 22, 2013

Strawberry Jam Forever

It's strawberry picking time in our neck of the woods, and my family LOVES it.  My kids always pick as much as their little arms can carry.  Problem, though...strawberries go rotten quickly, and there's only so many fresh berries kids can handle in one week.  But I hate the wasting food!  My solution?...this great and easy recipe for freezer jam!

So, what's the difference between freezer jam and regular cooked jam?  Cooked jam is what most people imagine when they think of jam.  It actually involves cooking the fruit you're using.  It can be canned and stored in the pantry like other canned productsAs you'll see below, with freezer jam, you don't actually cook the fruitAlso, you have to keep it stored in the fridge or freezer.  
I actually prefer the freezer jam because it tastes more like fresh fruit, you don't cook out any of the nutrients, and you have the ability to better control how much sugar you actually use. 

What you'll need: 
  • 2 lbs fresh strawberries 
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice 
  • 3 cups sugar (some folks use up to 4 1/2 cups, others use with it until you find the right balance for your family) 
  • 3/4 cup water 
  • 6 Tbsp classic fruit pectin (I found mine with the canning supplies at our local grocery store.  You may find it on your baking aisle.)
  • 5 8 oz glass canning jars with lids (I like the smaller jars, so there is less risk of it going bad in the fridge before you use it all.)
What you'll do:
Wash your strawberries, remove the stems and leaves, and cut the larger berries in half.  Now, you're going to mash them!  You have several options:  1) In a large bowl, use a potato masher to crush your strawberries.  2) Use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (on low, please).  Just be sure to use your splash guard! ...
Or 3 Place your strawberries in a large SEALED Ziploc bag and pound away!  I found this to work well for greener strawberries, and it definitely worked better for my daughter.  Add the lemon juice to your strawberries and stir to combine

Slowly add the sugar, mixing thoroughly.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  

In a small saucepan, combine the fruit pectin and water and bring to a boil.  Boil rapidly for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add cooked pectin mixture to strawberry mixture and stir for several minutes until thoroughly combined.

Spoon your fruit mixture into your canning jars.  Be sure to leave 1/2 inch space at the top as the jam will expand as it freezes.  Close your lids tightly and let jam stand in refrigerator until it is completely chilled (no more than 24 hours, though).

Serve immediately, refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year.

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