Since I could remember, strawberries have been one of my most favorite fruits. Lucky for me, my grandmother grew strawberries every year and made the most wonderful strawberry jam ever! Every time I visited my grandparents, I came home with at least 1 jar of jam. It was so good that I couldn't imagine limiting it to just toast or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That stuff enhanced many a bowl of vanilla ice cream....yum! You see, my grandmother kept the jam in the freezer, and it tasted like fresh strawberries. Nothing like that stuff you buy at the store. What a treat it was!
One of the many recipes I called my grandmother for was this awesome jam. I had finally decided I wanted to make my own. Since she lives on the other side of the country, I felt I wasn't getting enough, as often as I craved. I asked my dad if he thought grandmother would divulge this family recipe to me....as far as I knew, she was the only one that made it and I didn't know if it was a "secret". Well, I called her one day. She gladly handed down the secrets to her wonderful jam. Now...have you ever gotten directions from someone in the south? (drive down the highway until you see the brick church and make a left. Continue up the road and you'll see Ole' Johns cow pasture.....) You get the idea. And thats kinda how it is with recipes too. It was a bit of an adventure. Anyways, after lots of "repeats" and "questions", I had the ever coveted recipe on paper! Wooo hoooo. Off to the store I went to make my purchases! I felt like I was walking on air and at the same time, so connected to my southern relatives...down home and country, while livin' in the city. What more could I want?
My list included strawberries, sugar, Sure-Jell fruit pectin, and mason jars. (check, check, and check) All in the bag and after a rather large grocery bill that I wasn't quite expecting (the pectin and those jars are pretty darned expensive) I raced home to dive into new endeavor. First thing I did when I got home was read the "before you start" instructions that came with the pectin....quality of fruit, clean jars, etc etc. I noticed that on this little pamphlet are several recipes for jam, both freezer and cooked. And lo and behold, there's my grandmothers secret family recipe for freezer strawberry jam!! OMG!! Did I ever feel stupid, and a bit deflated LOL. For some reasons, all these years I thought it was grandmothers own recipe. Well....since its not a family secret, you wanna know how its done? LMAO!!!
Oooh...and guess what? One of the girls at work has an aunt and uncle who own a strawberry field! Talk about fresh berries! Since I can't grow them at my house (lots of reasons you don't really want to hear about)...and they are rather expensive at the stores....how cool is it that I got a full flat for 1/2 the price of a 1/2 flat of strawberries. Heaven....I'm in heaven...(I forget the rest of the words to that ancient song but for some reason I have the sudden urge to tap dance around the room and I don't even know how!)
Ok ok, lets get this show on the road! This is easy, quick, freeze jam. No cooking (except to dissolve the pectic). Because the berries aren't cooked, you get that awesome fresh fruit flavor. If you wanna read about a really good Balsamic Strawberry Jam thats cooked, check out one of my peeps blog: DDPie's Slice. Sooooo You ready?
Here's what you need:
2 pints of strawberries
4 cups sugar
1 box of Sure Jell Fruit Pectin
3/4 cup of water
5 - 8oz mason jars
See all those jars? Ya...I got tons of strawberries but I'm not even using 1/2 of them today. The rest are in the freezer waiting for another destiny, to be determined at a later date. Ok...about those jars and lids, make sure they are all clean. I use to boil water and dip them in there for a few seconds. Now I have a handy dandy feature on my dishwasher that stays "Sanitize". mm, ya, works for me.
Remove the stems and crush your berries. You don't want to puree the fruit. You want it to have a few chunks. If I had a food processor, I'd have used it but my piece of crap Black and Decker took a dive on me. Sooo, I pulsed the berries in my blender, then finished it up in a bowl with a potato masher. Works great. The blender gets the process started and the masher finishes it without pureeing the berries. (Is anyone else thinking margaritas here?).
Btw...this recipe is not transferable with other berries or fruit. The ratios are different. Also...do not double the recipe. You have to work in batches, otherwise you wont get a good set. Measure all the ingredients exactly. No more, no less. Do not substitute anything. If sugar is an issue, there is a special pectin on the market that caters to those needs, with their own recipes inside. Hmm...I think thats it on the "extras".
Now....measure 2 cups of strawberries and 4 cups of sugar (crazy amount of sugar but you gotta!)
look at that thick strawberry mixture....smells great!
Let mixture stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure you scrape the sides a bit along the way.
In a small saucepan, combine water and pectin packet.
The pectin will start out a little lumpy...don't worry.
Bring pectin water to a boil over high heat while stirring continuously. It becomes a roiling boil...just keep stirring for 1 minute.
Remove from heat (see? it gets all clear when you take it off the heat)
Add the pectin mixture to the strawberry mixture. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved and is no longer "grainy".
Now we have a nice syrupy consistency. And we're ready to pour the jam into our jars. I use a ladle and leave about 1/4" to 1/2" at the top. They say it expands when frozen but I have never had an issue.
Cover the jars and place them on the counter top for 24 hours so it sets.
I think I made about 16 jars. By tomorrow I'll be able to place them in the freezer (stores up to a year) except for one that will go in the fridge (for up to 3 weeks).
And....in anticipation of enjoying this strawberry-licious jam, I've also started a loaf of No-Knead Bread....ya baby, I'm having fresh bread with homemade strawberry jam! (heaven...I'm in heaven).
And now for my reward for slaving all day in the kitchen.....I had 1 cup of crushed strawberries left over. I added a few ounces of pink lemonade concentrate (leftover from the lemon icebox pies last weekend) to make 12 oz, mixed in 12 oz of tequila, 12 oz of ginger ale and a 12 oz can of beer. I know, it sounds strange but you can't even taste the beer (trust me! I hate beer).