June 24, 2010

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry season has finally arrived here in southern Maine. I say 'finally,' but I think it's actually a few weeks early this year. I just have been jonesing for strawberries- especially after reading about other bloggers' delicious strawberry treats. Well, we're finally getting our turn.

I got so excited to hear that Maxwell's Pick Your Own strawberry fields in Cape Elizabeth were open that I drove down the next day. I went a little crazy and picked 12 pounds of strawberries! Rather than decide in that moment what to do with so many berries, I made freezer jam and froze the rest. Now I am ready to make strawberry shortcake, triple berry jam, and strawberry rhubarb pies at my leisure.

I really enjoy freezer jam because it's so darn easy. Freezer jam is cooked less, and so it results in a fresher taste and color. For this recipe, I used Ball no sugar needed pectin. This pectin contains recipes for cooked jams (to be heat processed) and freezer jams, but I didn't like the freezer jam recipe. It called for fruit juice, and that just seemed silly when I had so many strawberries sitting in front of me. So I made the cooked jam recipe and just froze it. Since freezing is always a safe alternative to canning, I knew I'd be alright- maybe even better off, since freezer jam is always more weepy. The cooked jam recipe set up nicely, however.

Low-sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam
Adapted from Ball

4 cups mashed fruit
0-3 cups sugar (your preference- I used 1-1/4 cups)
1 package Ball No Sugar Needed pectin

Wash berries and remove green tops. Place in a large bowl and mash up finely, using a potato masher or a food chopper (if you're fancy). Bring strawberry mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Use a fairly large pot, since the mixture will expand and foam.

When berries are boiling, add powdered pectin and stir until dissolved. Bring back to a boil and boil one minute to dissolve pectin. After one minute, add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and ladle into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch between the top of the fruit and the top of the container to allow for expansion. You can buy special freezer jam containers like I did (about $6 for 6), or use any freezer-grade plastic container. You may also use wide-mouth jelly or pint jars. Do not use jars with shoulders (narrow-mouth pint jars), as they can break when the jam expands during freezing. Nothing ruins a good breakfast like glass in your jam!

Keep in the freezer for up to one year. Thaw and store jam in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.