Monday, April 5, 2010

Strawberry freezer jam, take 1

I'm not the canning kind. I don't can, preserve, or put away. I neither jam nor jelly.

However, when confronted with a flat of strawberries at Russo's for a mere $10, I caved. That flat ended up coming home with me. Now a flat of strawberries is an awful lot of berries. We ate some fresh. We made strawberry banana yogurt smoothies. We were still left with over a half-flat.

Putting some away seemed like a reasonable answer to the question, "What do you do with a half-flat of strawberries?" I researched freezer jam. It didn't sound too hard. And making freezer jam does away with that boiling jars/tong action. I looked for pectin at Whole Foods. They had a fancy kind called Pomona's Universal Pectin. According to its website, it doesn't require sugar to jell so you can make less sugary (hence healthier) jams and jellies. Sounds good to me. Instead of sugar, it is activated by calcium. Pomona's Pectin comes with a little bag of powdered calcium that you mix with water in a jar. Very easy.

First, I washed and hulled a lot of berries. Then I was supposed to crush them. I wasn't sure how to accomplish this so I crushed them by hand using a Rosle fruit muddler that my sister, Judy, had given me years ago. I'm not sure if this is how a muddler should be used, but it did a great job. The kiddos enjoyed crushing berries though it did require some strength. Once the strawberries seemed muddled enough, I added sugar. Lots of sugar. Probably too much sugar.

This is where it went terribly awry. The next step was to boil water, add pectin, and stir until dissolved. Sounds simple, right? One recipe said this step should take a minute. First, steam from the boiling water made the pectin powder stick to the measuring spoon. After a few spoonfuls, a powdery, sticky mess stuck to the spoon. I tried to scrape it off, but it was like glue.

You were supposed to stir the pectin in the boiling water until dissolved. It wasn't dissolving. I stirred and stirred. I had tan lumps floating in the water. I called my husband in a panic. Google said to mash the lumps with a spoon. Have you ever tried to mash little gelatinous lumps? They don't mash. They just squeeze flat and float away. Still in lumps. I mashed and mashed and mashed, cursing under my breath.

I had ten minutes until I had to leave for carpool duty.

Fine. Dissolved enough. I poured it into the sugary crushed strawberries. With the Pomona's Pectin, you add teaspoonfuls of the calcium water until the jam starts to jell. I added about...oh...countless teaspoons. Somewhere around 20 maybe. You have to eyeball this step. It started to look like jam! (With regular pectin, I believe you just let the jam sit out for 24 hours to jell.)

I was then supposed to put the jam into jars and freeze immediately. I had prepped a funnel for the task. I set the funnel in the mouth of a mason jar and poured in some jam. The fruit clogged the neck. It was improvisation time. A ladle worked just fine.

Break for carpool. After the mom chauffeur gig, I came home to jar the rest of the jam. Resting for thirty minutes didn't hurt it at all. And here is the result!

Strawberry Freezer Jam recipe:
7 cups crushed strawberries
2.5 cups sugar (I could have done less. The result was sweet, but not sickly.)
1.25 cups water
5 teaspoons and a pinch of Pomona's Pectin
many teaspoons of the Pomona's Pectin calcium/water mixture

Wash, hull, and crush strawberries. Add most of the sugar to the crushed strawberries. Keep some sugar to add later with the pectin. Stir. Boil water. Add pectin powder with some sugar to the boiling water. This is supposed to reduce the lumping problem. Stir until dissolved. Add hot pectin water to strawberry/sugar mix. Stir. Add teaspoons of calcium/water mixture until the strawberries begin to jell. If you're not using Pomona's, keep the covered jam out for 24 hours. Pour into jars. Freeze.

The kids all tried spoonfuls and proclaimed it yummy. Even the boy who hates jam of any kind. He said it tasted fresh like real strawberries. I may have just turned into the canning kind.


  1. love jam making! never made freezer jam before...looks great!

  2. It's yummy. The texture isn't as jelled as jam/jelly though. Maybe my next try...


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