Out of those 24 quarts I took home 10. The youngin' at home was bewildered by the volume of strawberries, and at first couldn't quite understand what I was going to do with all of them. I explained to him that all he would see after I was done was a large bowl of berries for strawberry shortcake. Some I was going to freeze, some were going to the Mom (yes, I like to call her "the Mom" which can be explained in a later post), some were going to be fresh to snack on, and some were going to be turned into jam.
My previous post included a recipe for freezer jam. Growing up I have been around the Mom and my grandmother who are experts on making the stuff (and I, the expert on sampling!). Before this past Saturday, I had only made cooked jam, which requires a sweat band during the summer as well as large pots, oven mitts, and quick fingers. Don't get me wrong, it can be enjoyable and it makes for wonderful gifts, but freezer jam for us amateurs can be a Godsend on hot days. I used the recipe in my previous post and successfully made 10 1-cup containers of freezer jam. I was so excited I had to call the expert chefs in the family (again, the Mom and my grandmother) to tell them what I had done. I'm still pretty pleased with the turn out and decided I must blog about it. If you've never made freezer jam, you really really REALLY should.
So step 1: I cleaned and de-capped what felt like millions of berries:
By no means is that all the berries in that picture. YES, it can be a grueling task. Rinse, cut off the cap, rinse, cut off the cap, rinse, cut off the cap, rinse, cut off the cap. But there are a few rewards to this (I mean, at least there are for me): 1. You will have delicious jam during the winter. 2. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY will complain that they're bored because if they are they will be HELPING me with the berries. 3. After de-capping that many berries, you will have super ninja skills with a paring knife. Fruit Ninja, in real life.
Again, let me remind you that the recipe calls for two cups of crushed strawberries. After I sliced some for the Mom and for myself, I froze about three quarts, and then had enough for two batches of jam. The directions, in case you should remove your loyal eyes from my blog, are right inside the dry pectin box (eg. Sure Jell, Jel Ease).
Step 2: Squish your berries in a bowl (this is jam, so leave it chunky!) and measure out two level cups into another bowl. I used a potato smasher, but you can use a food processor (no puree). It was just two cups and potato masher is much quicker to clean up unless you're making a boat load of jam. (I made two separate batches).
Step 3: Measure 4 level cups of granulated sugar into another bowl. I know, I know. The whole 2:4 ratio with fruit being the loser seems a little overwhelming, but in moderation just like anything else, jam is a sweet treat and won't make you feel like you should fast after eating a tablespoon or so.