The Fruits of Our Labor
I love when it’s time for strawberry picking. We were in Maine this weekend, where strawberries came in season two and a half weeks early this year.
Saturday was a beautiful sunny day. We went to our favorite local picking fields at Chipman Farm in Poland, Maine. It was Day 8 of their season. The berries were gorgeous. It was so easy to pick perfect berries. We went wild! We picked 23 pounds (two large trays).
We made jam with about half of our harvest. Several years ago, we met an older woman while picking raspberries. She introduced me to concept of making the no-cook version of jam on the pectin box insert. On the downside, the jam isn’t shelf stable and needs to be stored in the freezer. However, there are enough benefits to make it worthwhile to clear out the needed freezer space.
First, after all the blazing hot summer afternoons or evenings I’ve spent standing over a pot of boiling water to sterilize the jars and process the final product, the no-cook recipe lets you “put up” the fruit without any sweat. Secondly, and most important, is the superior taste. The berries aren’t actually cooked, so even in the dead of winter, they will taste just like summer.
First, you mash the berries in a bowl. Then, you combine the sugar and pectin with some water and bring it a rolling boil for one minute. Off heat, you stir in the fruit for one minute. Ta-da! It’s ready to pour into those little Ziploc or Glad (or supermarket brand) plastic containers.
I’ve had excellent luck with the low sugar version, which does require the Low Sugar pectin, not regular. The one thing I noticed is that, once you move the jam from the freezer to the refrigerator, you need to use the jam within a week or two, or it starts to get moldy. With the regular sugar recipe, it lasts in the fridge much longer. However, the low sugar recipe uses 3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of mashed berries per batch where the regular sugar version uses 4 cups of sugar to 2 cups of mashed berries. Because it’s the fruit I want to taste, I’d rather reduce the sugar.
In the end, we made 3 batches of strawberry jam, about 19 containers. We set aside enough strawberries to enjoy fresh for the rest of the week. The remaining berries go into the freezer, where they will be enjoyed in frozen drinks, like daiquiris and margaritas, over the summer.
Strawberry Freezer Jam
Makes 6 cups of jam
4 cups crushed strawberries (start with about 2 quarts ripe strawberries)
3 cups sugar
1 box Sure Jell Pectin For Less or No Sugar Needed
1 cup water
I store my jam in 1-cup sized plastic containers. If you buy them new, be sure to wash them and dry them first.
In a bowl, crush the strawberries, about 1 cup at a time. I use an old-fashioned potato masher, the kind that looks like a grid. I find this works best. You will need exactly 4 cups of crushed berries.
In a large pot, mix the sugar and pectin. Stir in the water. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it boils, keep stirring for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Add the berries and stir for 1 minute. The mixture should be well blended.
Immediately fill the containers to within ½ inch of the top. Wipe off the top edges of the containers and cover immediately. Let the jam stand at room temperature for about 24 hours. You can eat it right away, or freeze for up to one year. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator before using. The jam can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.