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!