Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Delicious Red Gold

At least my boys think it's value is comparable to gold.  I'm talking about Strawberry freezer jam.  If they had their way, I'd be making about 104 jars a year - enough to go through two jars a week.  However, their dentist and I disagree.  This year I bought two ~cases~  yep...cases of strawberries.  We need to be growing these - perhaps next year!

We never buy jams or jellies  from the store and the main reason why is that most of  it is made with high fructose corn syrup.  We don't buy anything containing that nasty ingredient.  Do some research on the dangers of high fructose corn syrup and then come and make jam with me!

Last year I did about a case and a half of strawberries and it just wasn't enough.  I make strawberry jam, hot strawberry jam (cooked and freezer jam) and then freeze berries for cobblers, fruit salads, shortcakes and ice cream throughout the year.  I try to keep track of my pantry and it's contents by the end of the winter so I know where I can cut back or where I need to do more.  For instance, I still have plenty of cooked strawberry jam and cooked hot strawberry jam so I don't need to do that this year.  However, the freezer jam has become a favorite of the boys.  Last year I made strawberry and peach....both of them seemed to fly out of the freezer.  My boys certainly can eat!

I started with what I thought were enough jars....I ended up washing even more!

Waiting to be filled!

Then of course, you need the berries....

A bowl full of delight....

And good company makes the job so much more fun while at the same time it helps the work to go quickly.  My Mom joined me and we spent a good part of the afternoon and some of the evening stemming strawberries and chatting....

Beautiful berries!

I really enjoy these times with my Mom.  I especially enjoy the stories of her life growing up, what times were like and the tales about our relatives.

While we were stemming and chatting, we came across this unusual berry....Elijah says our Father sent it because we have a house filled with love!

Sweet "heart"!

Freezer jam is really easy to make...berries, sugar and Sure-jel....mix and go!  This time, when I was shopping for Sure-jel, a little, elderly lady approached me and told me that the generic version for 95 cents was just as good as the brand name for $2.67!  Once I read the ingredients, I was ready to try it and save some money.  She was absolutely correct - it worked very well and I am thankful for a small town where a stranger will come up and try to steer you straight!

Once you get into the swing of things, it moves very quickly. It usually takes me about two batches to become familiar with the process again.  I purchased the cases of berries in the morning.  Normally I would only do one at a time but they weren't sure if they would be back ...they were at the end of their season.  So....I thought I had better get them while I could. I began washing and stemming berries about 2:00 pm and Mom helped me until about 8 p.m. that night.  All of the jam was made and the mess cleaned up by midnight!  One day of work will feed and delight us for the next year!  I froze my berries in quarts this year - I used to do gallons but seemed pressed to use it all before they went bad.  I am hoping quarts will be more practical.

I make a "hot" version of my jams that are very popular.  It is very easy to do and doesn't matter if you are making freezer jam or cooked jam.  Once the pectin is well mixed in, I take out about a cup of jam and drop it into my blender.  I then add a hot pepper - you can use any hot pepper - pick your favorite according to how hot you like things.  Let it blend until pureed - then pour it back into the batch of  jam and mix well.  The end result is the normal sweet taste of the jam, followed by a mild heat.  YUMMY!  I love to pour it over a block of home made chevre cheese (you can use cream cheese) and serve with crackers....we are often asked to bring this to a pot luck.

Soon I'll be doing raspberries and blackberries.....peaches won't be far behind.  I think this year I will make less peach jam and instead will be freezing peaches for cobblers and peaches and cream.  The boys seem to like them better that way and we have some peach jam left.  I like the peach jam drizzled over home made pancakes or home churned vanilla ice cream.

I encourage you to visit your farmer's markets if you don't raise fruit and begin your preparations for is wonderful to have fruit in some form all year long.  I won't buy fruit (or produce) from other countries and we really prefer local and organic if we aren't growing it ourselves.

Worth the work!

Join me this summer in preserving this wonderful bounty from our Father in one form or another.  You'll thank me when the snow flies and the cold winds blow!



  1. I made cooked strawberry jam, straberry-rhubarb, and carrot jam (yes, and it's very good... my kids love it!)

  2. I'm with your boys! I was thinking in terms of the peanut butter jars we use, but quart jars are even better!

  3. Wow, Cheri, you've made my mouth water!

    We were blessed to visit a local farm and pick our strawberries fresh off the plants. We had a wonderful fresh strawberry pie (a Cook's Illustrated recipe from which I switched natural sugar instead of refined) and now we have frozen berries to last a while.

  4. Thanks for the recipe! Can't wait to do the hot blackberry jam -- yum! :o)

  5. You're my company while canning! I've got an assembly line of berries, a bowl and the compost pile and am hulling as I read!

  6. "Elijah says our Father sent it because we have a house filled with love!"

    Love, love, love this! What a blessing. :)

  7. Our strawberry season is just beginning. Our two youngest have their own patch that they transplanted the runners into last year, so whenever I need strawberries I go to them! Can't wait to get into jam making. My boys prefer the cooked version to freezer jam. We are also harvesting an overabundance of woodticks!


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