Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DIY- Strawberry Jam for Newly Weds

When I think of May, one thing that I think of, besides flowers and weddings, is strawberry jam! There is nothing like homemade strawberry jam, but it has to be FREEZER JAM to be really good! And freezer jam is not that hard to make. If you have about two quarts of fresh strawberries, some sugar and a box of Sure Jell, you can make about three pints of strawberry jam in thirty minutes or less. You will even have some strawberries left over just for eating!
Sure Jell can be found on the baking aisle in most grocery stores. There are two kinds, one comes in a yellow box and the other in a pink box like the ones pictured above. I prefer the pink box because this type requires less sugar.
When our kids were younger, we use to go strawberry picking at one of the You Pick farms around Cary, NC. Now I head for the Farmer's Market in Raleigh. You have to taste the berries to make sure that they are firm and sweet, and it's best to wait for several days of dry weather so that the berries will not be watery tasting. If they do taste watery, wait a few days and come back later. Once you get the strawberries home, it's best to make the jam that day or the next day at the latest. I load them up in a colander (hopefully you received one as a wedding gift), and rinse them with the green caps on.
After you rinse the berries, remove the green caps and place the berries in a clean bowl.
The next step is to mash them. I use a food processor (hopefully you received one of these for your wedding too!). I use a light touch and gently pulse the berries. You want nice pieces and chunks of fruit- not creamy soup! One batch requires enough mashed strawberries to make four cups.
Strawberry jam making is a lot more fun when the two of you are working together. My husband, Wilson, and I have enjoyed making jam together for years. One of us stirs the sugar, Sure Jell and water together bringing the mixture to a boil, while other person cleans and processes the fresh berries. The directions and recipe are provided in the box, and are easy to follow.
Most people put the jam mixture in freezer containers since it's going into the freezer, but Wilson and I have used glass canning jars for years. If you use glass, you will need to make sure that the neck of the jar IS NOT narrow at the top. We freeze in pint and cup size jars with wide tops. After the mixture has been poured into the container, we place the lids on top and let it rest on the counter for twenty-four hours before placing in the freezer. I place the rings (which go over lids) on the jars just before putting in the freezer, but I don't tighten rings until after the mixture has frozen- this leaves room for the mixture to expand as it freezes.
Freezer jam last in the freezer for about one year. The two things that I love about freezer jam are the bright red color and the fresh strawberry taste- The taste of strawberries really comes through because the berries were never cooked.
I hope that you enjoy making and eating freezer jam as much as we do!

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