They say that you can’t tell a book by it’s cover and this definitely applies to strawberries! Although strawberries are now available all year round at our local grocery stores, they are not even in the ball park when compared with sweet, local, fresh picked berries. I dream of these local berries all winter and I am delighted when the season finally arrives. One day last week a sweet friend brought me a basket brimming with these sweet succulent beauties. It only took one bite to transport me to strawberry heaven!
Since then we have eaten our fair share of these berries on morning yogurt, in delicious salads (yesterday’s post) and as the star in a superb strawberry short cake, however I knew it would be trouble if I let the season pass without filling up my freezer with jam. When my grown son comes home to visit, the first thing he checks out is my “freezer stash”. In fact, he actually takes mental inventory and I will occasionally call him (150 miles away!) to ask him if I have any of this or that in my freezer. He always knows the answer and it which saves me a bit of time digging through “the stash”! Anyway, if there are no lovely jars of jam………. I know to be prepared for a long, sad, look on his face (and a bit of grumbling)!
Seriously, if you’ve never tasted freezer jam you will be shocked at the difference between this and even other homemade jams. Freezer jam is not cooked so it retains the bright color and taste of the fresh fruit. On a cold cloudy winter day you will be so happy that you took the bit of time it takes to capture the “essence of spring” in these amazing jams.
Freezer jam takes very little “hands on” time but I have discovered one trick over the years – when I first made this wonderful spread the results were a little grainy as I had a hard time getting all of the sugar dissolved. The recipe calls for letting the fruit and sugar mixture sit for 10 minutes before adding the liquid pectin (Certo). I get much better results by letting the mixture sit much longer, sometimes for 4-6 hours, stirring every hour or so, Other than that, I follow the Certo package directions quite carefully. Too much or not enough sugar can result in jam that is too runny or too thick. I am including two fun recipes that are not on the Certo package insert, Strawberry-Pineapple Freezer Jam and Fruits of the Forest Jam which is a combination of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries.
P.S. I’m spending a few days with my sister. She had never tasted freezer jam and thought that the old fashioned, cooked jam was the only thing that existed. I brought her a jar, she took one taste, squealed with delight and said “Where has this been all my life?”. She is now definitely a convert!
Strawberry-Pineapple Freezer Jam
1 3/4 cups crushed strawberries
1/2 cup fresh pineapple
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch liquid Certo pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1. Hull and thoroughly crush strawberries, one layer at a time. Add fresh pineapple.
2. In a large bowl, stir together prepared fruit and sugar.
3. Let stand 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally until all sugar is dissolved. If sugar is not dissolved after 4-5 hours, place in microwave on high for 2 minutes and stir again. One other secret, if sugar is still not completely dissolved, place mixture in microwave and warm on high for 2 1/2 minutes. This will not cook the jam, just help dissolve the last bits of sugar.
4. Add Certo and lemon juice. Stir for 3 minutes.
5. Put into clean containers filling up to 1/4 inch from rim. Cover with lids. Leave at room temperature 24 hours or until set.
Fruits of the Forest Freezer Jam
1 cup blueberries
2 cups strawberries, caps removed
4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon or orange peel
1 pouch Certo liquid fruit pectin
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1. Crush berries, measure 2 cups of the berries in a bowl .Combine berries, sugar and lemon peel and stir well.
2. Let stand 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally until all sugar is dissolved. If sugar is not dissolved after 4-5 hours, place in microwave on high for 2 minutes and stir again. One other secret, if sugar is still not completely dissolved, place mixture in microwave and warm on high for 2 1/2 minutes. This will not cook the jam, just help dissolve the last bits of sugar.
3. Add certo and lemon juice. Stir for 3 minutes.
4. Put into clean containers filling up to 1/4 inch from rim. Cover with lids. Leave at room temperature 24 hours or until set.