About the only thing I truly love about the warmer months here in the South are the fresh strawberries and blueberries. It’s not the heat that I can’t stand, it’s the humidity. Something about breaking a sweat by 7 a.m. when all you have done is walked out your front door just rubs me wrong. Plus the pollen really gets my allergies going and makes it impossible to sleep some nights. Dry heat and I get along just fine. But since there is no escaping the humidity this time of year, what better way to overcome it than with some fresh, juicy, sweet strawberries? I had been meaning to stop and get a couple gallons of berries for several weeks now but just never found the time. Mr. M actually likes going to pick them ourselves, but when you can buy them pre-picked for 50 cents more, and you’re as busy as we are, then that’s what you do!
I picked these beauties up the other day and decided to try my hand at making some strawberry jam. I’m not much of a jam fan, I don’t care for how sweet and sticky it is, but Mr. M loves jam. So naturally, like the good future Mrs. M that I am, I decided to make a batch just for him. I know, I’m sweet 🙂 But when looking for a recipe, I had trouble finding one that does not use pectin. I wanted our jam to be as free from chemicals and processed food as possible. Obviously it has sugar in it, and I realize that I could have used a natural sweetener or used honey, but we are on a budget and I just couldn’t see parting with over 3 cups of my cherished local honey for a batch of jam. Those of you who buy local honey know why it could be hard to part with this much, the stuff is not cheap! So sugar it is. I got this recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam from my grandmother.
After you get your berries all washed up, cut the tops off and cut them in half. You will need 4 cups of mashed berries for this recipe. I don’t have a potato masher so it took me a while to mash them up with a spoon. I would have used my food processer to help, but it is really small and would have taken a while too. Plus I completely forgot I had it until I started writing this post!
Once your berries are all mashed up, add 4 cups of sugar, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. I always use fresh lemon juice, I don’t like the taste of the bottled kind. Heat this in a saucepan over medium-low heat until all of that sugar is dissolved.
Once the sugar is dissolved, crank up the heat to high and let it come to a rolling boil. Make sure you stir it pretty often. You will need to use a candy thermometer to make sure it reaches 220 degrees F.
Once it has reached the right temperature, spoon it into sterilized canning jars. Place it in the refrigerator for about 2 hours before transferring to the freezer. Simple, huh?? For those of you who like stuff in recipe format (I do too) here you go:
STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM (PECTIN-FREE)
4 cups hulled and mashed strawberries
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Wash and cut the tops off the strawberries. Mash them in a large bowl, making sure you have 4 cups once they are mashed. Add to a large saucepan. Add 4 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Heat over medium-low, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring to rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Using a candy thermometer, make sure mixture reaches 220 degrees F. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Place in refrigerator for 2 hours before freezing.
Yield: just over 6 of the 8 ounce jelly jars.