I thought in the process of showing some of our family pictures, I'd also share how we make our freezer jam. As our friend Tony would say, "Nobody makes it like you do!" The secret? I've used the Sure Jell Pectin recipe from the box...hahaha! I have changed it up a little bit. It's not rocket science, but here it is...and of course with visuals :)
Strawberry Freezer Jam2 to 2 1/4 c. crushed strawberries (I use 2 1/4 c.)
This is about 2 pints of whole strawberries.
3-4 c. sugar (I use 4c.)
1 pkg. (3 Tbs.) regular Pectin
3/4 c. water
3-4 pint canning jars with lids and rings
OR 3-4 (16 oz.) Ball plastic freezer jars with lids
OR 7-8 half pint jars with lids and rings
OR 7-8 (8 oz.) Ball plastic freezer jars with lids
strawberry huller or knife
canning lid magnetic stick or tongs
large flat dish like a casserole dish
clean dish rag
4 c. pourable glass measuring bowl
large mouth canning funnel
other measuring cups/bowls
I started with 4 lbs. of strawberries for this regular sugar recipe. It was enough to make a little over 3 batches (10 pints altogether). If you are doing multiple recipes, unfortunately you can't just double everything. Make 1 recipe at a time.
Eventually I will probably start collecting some of the Ball plastic freezer jars. They are more expensive but you don't have to worry about buying new lids every year and they are so easy to put into the deep freeze :)
Step 1: Prepare your jars. I make sure my dishwasher is empty and clean (sometimes this means running 1 c. of bleach on a quick wash cycle first). I place the jars in there and do a quick wash cycle with just a tad bit of dishwasher detergent. Then, later when I am ready to fill them, the jars are still hot. Many canning directions will say to put them in a hot bath. This is not necessary for this recipe if you use your dishwasher. The goal is to make sure they are disinfected. The freezer will actually seal the jam. Place your lids in a small sauce pan with water. Put them on low-medium low. They will need to sit in a lightly bubbling bath until you are ready to use them.
Step 2: Rinse and soak your strawberries for a few minutes. Drain. Allow to dry.
Step 3: Remove the hull. I use a very simple metal strawberry huller. You can just use a knife too. The goal is to remove the leaf and the base of the stem without wasting the strawberry. (NOTE: You can use slightly over-ripe strawberries, just remove or discard moldy pieces!)
Step 4: Begin to mash the strawberries in a flat casserole type dish. Do one layer at a time. They will not be mashed all the way. Make sure to leave little chunks. Pour the mashed berries into a 4c. pourable glass measuring bowl.
Step 5: Once you have 2 to 2 1/4 c. strawberries, it's time to add in the sugar. I use 4 cups with my 2 1/4 c. mashed strawberries. Feel free to test taste to see how sweet you like it. Allow it to set for about 10 min. while you go on to the next step. (As you can see I used another bowl to mix the sugar and strawberries before pouring them into the glass measuring bowl. This was unnecessary and just made more dishes.)
Step 6: In a large saucepan, add 3/4 cup water to 1 pkg. of regular Pectin. If you can find a jar of pectin powder, this is the cheaper way to go! Mine called for 3 Tbs. to equal 1 box.
Step 7: Bring the pectin to a boil. STIR CONSTANTLY! Allow it to boil for about 1-2 min. The pectin will change to a more clear liquid. It will be a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
|This is almost ready. It will look a more clear than this.|
Step 9: Place the funnel on top of the jar. Pour the strawberry/pectin mixture into jars. Wipe the rims with a clean, wet dish rag to remove any spilled strawberries.
Step 10: Using the canning magnetic stick, grab a lid from it's warm bath. Apply to the top of the jar. Twist the ring on top of the lid.
Step 11: Place the jars in the freezer. Most recipes say that they only last 6 mos. in the freezer. I have had mine for about 3 years in my deep freezer and they are still fine. All that sugar will preserve the jam. When you want to use the jam, place it in the fridge to thaw. Use unthawed, refrigerated jam within several months. Also, if you can't wait to try it, leave some out in a little dish...no need to freeze if you plan to use it right away.
NOTE: I also made a low sugar recipe this time. It is very hard to find a good recipe. It actually is a different process with the pectin and adding a sugar substitute. After I have tasted it, if I like it, I will post it here too. If you have a recipe that you use for low or no sugar added jam, please leave it in a comment! Thanks!