I am afraid of canning. It's a semi-irrational fear born out of the notion that I would just hate to give any one botulism. So, in general, I have foregone some of the associated pleasures from a homemade standpoint. I have been doing a lot of quick pickling this summer, which is a great alternative to canning for savory items. But I've been missing something: homemade jam.
My grandmother made batches and batches of strawberry freezer jam when I was growing up and it seemed like we always had some lying around. I love that it's somewhere between fruit compote and jam - still looking and tasting of bright fresh strawberries but slightly gooey and totally spreadable.
Having no idea where to even start, I did a little reading. I thought I could just boil down some strawberries and sugar and avoid using pectin all together, but it turns out pectin is a key ingredient: it helps your jam set up, while avoiding long cooking times, ultimately preserving the color, taste and quality of the fruit in your jam!
Armed with that tidbit, I bought some pectin and made some jam. Full disclosure? This recipe is more or less right off of the back of the Sure-Jell pectin box. I'm not sharing any true wisdom - just a little support. I hope it takes any fear out of jam making and chucks it right into the can :).
Strawberry Freezer Jam
The recipe calls for 4 cups of sugar and after a little research, I found that it is necessary to make the jam set up correctly. You can get low-sugar pectin, and reduce the sugar accordingly. I, however, like my freezer jam a little on the runny side, so I used only 3 cups and ended up with fabulous results. Your choice!
6-8 cups strawberries, hulled and cut in quarters (you want a total of four cups of fruit once mashed, as below).
1 vanilla bean, split (optional)
4 cups sugar (see above)
3 Tblsp lemon juice
3/4 C water
1.75 oz pectin (I used this)
Mash strawberries in large bowl with potato masher or process to a chunky cosinstency in food processor. Mix with sugar and lemon juice, then scrape in vanilla seeds, if using, and stir to combine. Let sit in fridge for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Bring pectin and water to boil in a medium saucepan, whisking constantly, and boil for one minute. Pour into prepared fruit and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Pour mixture immediately into freezer containers (I use these) and seal. Let sit at room temp overnight, to set. Store in fridge for 3 weeks and freezer for 6 months!