Thursday, June 18, 2009

Preserving a bit of early summer in a jar

When I was quite young, my Gram planted a strawberry patch simply because I loved them. Over the years, the patch grew and produced more berries than we could eat fresh, so Gram began making freezer jam and freezing bags of sliced, sugared berries that could be thawed for strawberry shortcakes or topping ice cream even in the middle of winter. With strawberries in season, my boys and I enjoyed the annual Strawberry Festival at Triple B Farms this past weekend. We enjoyed a breakfast of strawberry pancakes and bought strawberries to bring home. Today, faced with the fact that we'd eaten all we could before they got to the point of being overly ripe, we decided to preserve our own small bit of early summer in jars. Sadly, these five jars won't last long once they start having peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches or jam on toast so we'll be making more early next week. Fortunately, freezer jam is quite easy to make.

Strawberry Freezer Jam
2 cups crushed strawberries (we use a potato masher)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 cups sugar
(1) 1.75 oz. pkg. fruit pectin
3/4 cup water

1. Combine fruit and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add sugar, mix thoroughly. Let stand 10 minutes.
2. Combine fruit pectin and water in a small saucepan. Bring water to a rolling boil and boil, while stirring, for 1 minute.
3. Add cooked pectin to fruit mixture. Stir for 3 minutes.
4. Ladle jam into jars (I save ones we've emptied over the year, then clean, & sterilize them) , leaving 1/2 inch head space. Apply caps and let jam stand in refrigerator until set, but no more than 24 hours. Serve immediately, refrigerate up to 3 weeks, or freeze up to 1 year.
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