I have to admit. Canning scares me! I’ve done it before, but there’s nothing I enjoy about it, and I’m always worried it’s not going to turn out. Plus… I’m not a huge fan of canned fruit and neither is anyone in my family. But because I like the idea of being domestic, and I like strawberry jam, I make strawberry freezer jam and store it in ball canning bottles, so it looks like I’m canning something. Win!
Freezer jam is so easy! The ingredient amounts I’ve listed came from the box of fruit pectin I purchased. The amounts are the same for the majority of fruit pectin available, but make sure you follow the amounts listed in your pectin box. The directions should all be the same, but be sure to double-check the amounts.
Start by washing your bottles and lids in the dishwasher. Unlike canning, they don’t need to be hot when you add the jam, but they should be sterilized.
Use 1 quart/2 pints/2 lb of strawberries. Basically, it’s two standard containers of strawberries sold in the produce section (or one of the big ones).
Wash and dry the strawberries Hull the strawberries. This may sound fancy, but all you do is stick a small knife in the top of the strawberry and run it around the stem, pulling off the stem and the inside. You should be left with this.
I then like to chop my strawberries up a bit. It doesn’t matter if they’re evenly chopped because you’re going to mash them up. But chopping them first makes the mashing a bit easier.
Once you have all the strawberries in the bowl, go to town with a potato masher. You can mash the fruit as much as you like so you end up with totally pureed strawberries, or with a few chunks remaining. I personally like my strawberry jam a little chunky. If you do want it really smooth, you can use a food processor instead of a masher.It really doesn’t matter. The rest of the directions are the same no matter how chunky you leave it.
Now re-measure your fruit so you have 2 cups strawberries.
To the strawberries, add 4 cups sugar and combine. (yes it’s a lot… but it’s less than most commercial jams, and it’s not high fructose corn syrup. So basically… it’s a health food).
In a small saucepan, combine 1 packet regular, powdered fruit pectin and 3/4 C water. Bring this to a boil on high heat and continue boiling for one minute while stirring constantly.
Pour the pectin into the fruit mixture and stir constantly for three minutes.
Now pour the jam into the jars! I do this by lining up my bottles on a kitchen rag and using a canning funnel (one of the best inventions in the world) and a ladle. I filled 9 1/2-qt bottles with one batch of jam.
Using a barely damp cloth, wipe the rims of the bottles clean and put on the lids. Be sure to label your lids with the contents and date.
Leave the jam on the counter, untouched for 24 hours. After 24 hours, store it in the freezer or in the fridge (if you’re going to eat it soon!!).
You may wonder why I filled such small jars. Well… since Christmas season is such a busy time, I decided to give out freezer jam this year and small loaves of gingerbread. Now, I already have the jam done before Christmas, and the bread won’t take much to do!
I made two batches of jam. Don’t double the batch! I don’t understand the physics behind making jam, I only know you can’t double it. It’s worth the time to just go through the process twice.
Have fun making jam!!