Friday, May 23, 2008

Okay, the promised "outbreak of posting"!!!

It feels nice to be sitting down. I've been in the kitchen all morning...persevering strawberries.

Strawberries are like tiny red gems that you can eat. Bursting with sweetness, they make our whole house smell like a summer afternoon.

Though I've watched the preserving processes many times, this year I am determined to learn how to do everything for myself - not just watch Mom do it. And I'm starting with one of the earliest crops of the year; strawberries.

Some of the berries we simply lay on cookie sheets to freeze, the scoop them into freezer bags and store in the freezer. They'll be great for snacks or baking later.

But most of the berries were made into jam. I really, really like strawberry jam. Those chunks of strawberries....mmmm!And I've been thinking about starting a "how to" series here at "The Fruit of Her Hands" anyway, so here's the first post:

How to Make Strawberry Freezer Jam
(called freezer jam because you don't have to can anything.)

First, was up all your canning jars. (Since this jam will actually be stored in the freezer, you can use plastic freezer containers as well. Your choice.)
This is usually my least favorite part of food-preservation jobs, but I got stuck with it this morning. Smile.

Then, get everyone to pitch in and slice the tops off all the berries!

Rinse your berries well....

And smash them! For our recipe, we used 4 cups of whole berries for 3 pints. (These smash to 2 cups of ...stuff.)

Then you add sugar. In this first picture, I show the second recipe we tried today. It was made with a different kinds of pectin, and much less sugar. (About 1.5 cups for 4 cups squashed berries.)

Here's the first recipe. Equal parts of sugar and berries! (No wonder I like strawberry jam!) Honestly, that much sugar was a little sickening. That's why we tried the other recipe. I don't know yet if it will set as well, but hey - it will taste fine! (I hope!)

Next, you boil the pectin in water (however much the recipe calls for). Once you reach a rolling boil, continue cooking for one more minute. (And yes, I did spill that pectin all over the burner. Strawberries weren't the ONLY thing our kitchen smelled like today!)

Add the pectin to the strawberries. Stir for 3 minutes. Ladle into glass jars, using a funnel (this is the part every little helper wants to be in on.) Screw on the lids....

And you're done!

After 24 hours at room temp., this can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for one year.

I can't wait for that first slice of toast, or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich!

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