Summer In A Jar
If you’ve never discovered a forgotten batch of late summer jam on a cold winter day, you’re missing out! I usually find one tucked away in my freezer around late November, brimming with liquid sunshine and memories of lazy berry-picking on a summer day. Farmers markets will be overflowing with sweet berry goodness before you know it, so I thought I’d share my favorite recipe for strawberry freezer jam. Unlike this chia based strawberry jam which is best consumed within a week or so, this jam can last for a year in the freezer. We’ll get to the recipe soon, but first we must ask the all important question . . .
Should I use pectin?
If you like thick jam it’s the way to go. The thing is, most pectin-thickened jams get their gelling power using gobs and gobs of sugar – not awesome for those of us who like a more naturally-sweetened preserve. Fortunately, Pomona’s Pectin uses calcium rather than sugar to activate it’s gelling properties, so you can sweeten to taste and still end up with a delightful jelly-like texture. The pectin comes from citrus peels – my preferred source.
If you prefer the simplicity of using fewer ingredients, you can skip Pomona’s and thicken your jam just by cooking it a bit longer – I’ve included instructions for doing just that below. All fruits contain pectin so that will help it gel quite well. If you have a few green-tipped strawberries on hand be sure to add them in, since they contain more pectin than ripe strawberries. This jam won’t thicken quite like a jam that contains added pectin, but it’s got a lovely consistency that is oh-so-spreadable. Don’t ask me to pick a favorite – I love both methods!
How To Make Strawberry Freezer Jam Without Pectin
- 4 cups strawberries mashed. This is usually about 8 cups of whole strawberries - fresh or previously frozen will both work
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup honey
- Trim the tops of the strawberries and then mash them. A potato masher works well for this step. I prefer to use a flat-bottomed pan rather than a bowl, so I mash them in the pan that I'm going to put on the stove.
- Measure four cups of mashed strawberries into a heavy-bottomed pan or frying pan. Since I mash mine in the pan, this means I measure them into a bowl to make sure I have the right amount, then pour the mashed berries back in the pan
- Bring strawberries to a boil and reduce to simmer. Add honey and stir to combine.
- Simmer mixture for 15-30 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning.
- When your mixture has been simmering for about 15 minutes, begin stirring more frequently. What you're looking for is "lag time" when you draw your wooden spoon/spatula through the bottom of the pan. Before it's ready the space created by your spoon will fill quickly. As it thickens it will fill more slowly. Your jam is ready when it take a couple of seconds to refill after you draw your spoon through. Don't worry, it will thicken more as it cools.
- Remove jam from heat and allow to cool a bit before transferring jam to jars. (Extremely hot jam poured into a room temperature jar may cause it to crack)
- Store in the fridge for up to two weeks or the freezer for up to six months.
How To Make Strawberry Jam With Pectin
- Add 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder to 1/2 cup calcium water and stir until dissolved. Congratulations, you just made calcium water! Though it sounds difficult, it really is that simple.
- Trim the tops of the strawberries and then mash them. A potato masher works well for this step. I prefer to use a flat-bottomed pan rather than a bowl, so I mash them in the pan that I’m going to put on the stove.
- Measure four cups of mashed strawberries into a heavy-bottomed pan or frying pan. Since I mash mine in the pan, this means I measure them into a bowl to make sure I have the right amount, then pour the mashed berries back in the pan.
- Add 3 teaspoons calcium water to the strawberry mash
- In a separate container, add 2 teaspoons of Pomona’s Pectin to the honey and stir until thoroughly blended.
- Bring strawberry mash to a boil and add honey/pectin mixture. Stir vigorously for 2 minutes as you bring the mixture back to a boil.
- When the mixture comes back to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until the jam gels. How will I know when the jam gels, you ask? It’s actually pretty easy.
- Grab a large spoon and dip it into your mixture. Before the gel point it will easily run off the spoon. ” Lift it about 1 1/2 feet above the pot and pour the liquid jelly out all at once. What you’re looking for is the very last bit of jelly to come off the spoon. During the early stage of cooking, the last bit will pour off in a single drop.” (source)“When the jelly is almost done, the last bit of liquid jelly will come off the spoon in two drops rather than one.” (see photo) When the jelly is ready, the last drops pouring off the spoon will run together and “sheet” off the spoon.
- Remove jam from heat and allow to cool a bit before transferring jam to jars. (Extremely hot jam poured into a room temperature jar may cause it to crack)Store in the fridge for up to two weeks or the freezer for up to six months.