Thursday, July 02, 2009

Next up... Freezer Jam!

Because we wanted to preserve and enjoy the plethora of strawberries throughout the rest of the year, Jeff and I were already planning on making a couple batches of jam before we even put the berry patches in!

Last year we went with that Strawberry-Lavender Freezer Jam and because that whole process went so smoothly, I went with another freezer jam this time, preparing this Strawberry-Rhubarb Freezer Jam! Because we wanted this to taste more of the natural fruit, rather than loaded with sugar, we used that "no sugar needed" fruit pectin this time. However, don't read into that too much because sugar is added, but you don't need nearly as much and you can control of the amount needed without concern of the jam not setting.

In that previous version, there was no cooking involved because all you needed to do was smash the strawberries to break them down. However, since we were introducing rhubarb into the fold, the sturdy stalks do need to be briefly cooked to soften them and to activate the jelling properties. After mixing the pectin with a bit of sugar in one of our larger saucepans, we tossed in the diced, tart rhubarb stalks and enough water to get the process started. Once it boils, it only takes a short three to four minutes stint - we didn't let it go too long as we want the rhubarb softened, but still have enough oomph to hold its shape. To be sure the pectin will set after chilling out, we dribbled a bit of the rhubarb mixture on a cold metal tablespoon - if you turn it over and it doesn't immediately run off the spoon, you're good to go! If it does run, let it cook for another minute and check again.

Now we were ready to introduce the strawberries! They don't go in naked though. Before we got to work on the rhubarb, we chopped up the berries and tossed them together with sugar and fresh lemon juice. Doing this beforehand gives the sugar plenty of time to pull out the strawberry's own sweet juices. The groovy mixture was poured in and stirred around with the hot rhubarb, then divvied out between sterilized jars to be capped off. Before stashing them away in the freezer to enjoy for several months, be sure to let them cool off and place the filled jars into the refrigerator for 24 hours to set.

We actually made this a few times in a row to make a good dent in the supply of the fresh berries we have picked! Some say you can double a jam recipe without worry, but others say that the ratio of ingredients need to be changed slightly and if you don't get it quite right, the jelling process could be upset. We decided not to risk wasting the ingredients (wasting is a strong word though... you would just end up with a sauce, rather than jam!) and just spent the time needed to go through the process three times.

We broke into the first jar as soon as the waiting period clicked over - what we found when we slid in our spoon to take a taste was a thick, chunky jam that was just sweet enough to tame the rhubarb, leaving us a clean and vivid strawberry-rhubarb flavor. While eating it from a spoon was good and all, it was begging to be smeared over a piece of hearty whole-wheat toast or a craggly English muffin - perfect for a speedy breakfast or tasty snack.


  1. Also, a fun thing to make with the extra strawberries is fruit leather. I have made many a flavor of fruit leather and my favorite so far is strawberry peach. Just puree them together and add equal parts puree to organic no sugar added applesauce and let dehydrate. It is fantastic. I also have starting dehydrating strawberries which tastes fantastic also! Hope that gives you some other ideas!

  2. Shannon - Guess what? We've already done fruit leather! See that post in a few days!

  3. I love those jars. I saw them at Stop and Shop a couple of weeks ago when we made our jam--I went there for pectin and unfortunately, all they had was the regular kind and it was the only place in town that had it. Oh well!

  4. Very pretty! I love the color. Just spent 3 hours in the woods picking wild huckleberries, blueberries and blackberries, so now I don't have to feel so envious of your strawberries. :)

  5. OMG--I LOVE homemade jam! So delicious, and yours sounds perfect--a little chunky and yummy :o) I was going to suggest the jam and fruit leather, but I see you have already made that as well! You two are good :o) Have you tried just dehydrating the strawberries, either whole or sliced?


  6. Jen - I may just have to go and pick up a few more myself... they store so well.

    Sobaka - Great job!

    Courtney - We thought about it, but just haven't had the time needed to do that yet.