Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jam Session



I know that canning foods can be a bit intimidating. It is a very laborious and exacting process, requiring specialized equipment. Making freezer jam is none of the above. And it's delicious. And it's nutritious. And it's budget-friendly. I don't know why it's not more popular. Or is it popular, and I just don't realize it? Any other jam freezers out there?

The only downside is you have to store it in the freezer. Several years ago, I experimented with canning jam, so that I could store it in the pantry. Experiment is not really a verb you want to use when it comes to canning. Suffice it to say I ended up with a lot of spoiled jam. And I also found that in cooking the strawberries with required copious amount of sugar, you lose out on a lot of the freshness that makes jam so appealing.

So, I have ended my dabbling ways and started an exclusive relationship with freezer jam. I just follow the recipe on the back of the pectin container, but here it is, with step-by-step photos.

1. Go to your nearest u-pick strawberry field and pick about 4 quarts of super ripe berries. This will be plenty for one big recipe of jam, and then you'll have some leftovers. Chocolate covered strawberries, anyone? 


2. Wash, hull, and halve the berries. 



3. Mash them in small batches with a potato masher.

4. Repeat until you have 5 cups of mashed berries.

5. Mix together 2 cups of sugar and 6 tablespoons of freezer jam pectin. I use Ball brand. Pectin is the gelling agent in the jam. 

6. Add in berries, and stir for three minutes.

7. Ladle into glass jars (must be straight up and down jars), or any smallish plastic containers you have. This recipe says it makes 6 cups, but I ended up with 7. 

8. Let the jars rest for 30 minutes before you put them in the freezer.


9. Enjoy for the next year on toast and ice cream or in smoothies and milkshakes. Or straight out of the jar with a spoon.



Now here's the skinny, if I did my calculations correctly. It's less than half of the calories and grams of sugar in Smuckers.



The cost ends up at about $1/jar, again about half as much as Smuckers.

The difference in taste is immeasurable. Happy jamming!