Monday, July 30, 2012

Freezer Jam - Strawberry 1st, every other flavor later

And then as the season goes on - more fruits can get the same treatment. (see below*)

Strawberries get a bath
That's right - those barely here, and then they are GONE strawberries blew through town.  And I got one day to make things with them before the disappeared until next year.  I gave up a day of sailing for this.

Little jars of jam to be given out to people who need some love.

So how does this happen?

Step 1:  Clear the decks.  This can be done thoughtfully, with careful planning ahead, or ruthlessly by ignoring everything and everyone for the 1 (half†) day this process takes.

†half is a word up for dispute in this case.

Step 2: Get your hands on a flat of strawberries - the kind you buy in the morning and that looks forlorn by the evening and starts to grow fuzz if you do not refrigerate them overnight.  Get 2 flats if you are crazy, or working with a friend.

Step 3:  Get granulated sugar (all pretend sugar, "cane juice crystals" and the like contain an incorrect balance of water, or the wrong chemicals entirely - go with the tried and true this time) , plenty of Ball's Instant Pectin and more canning jars than you think you will need, especially if are getting dainty ones to share.  Run them, the rims and the lids through the dishwasher on the hot/sanitize cycle and leave them in there until you are ready to use them.  (Or boil them all for 5 minutes in a big pot and leave them on the stove at just warm - but submerged.)

Step 4: Wash out the sink and dig up a drinking straw and a pairing knife.  Clean out some big bowls or tupperwares, and be ready to use them all.

OK - dump one layer of strawberries in the sink and let them swim.  Swish them around so they get nice and clean with out getting bruised.  
Pull out any strawberries with any obvious bruising, trim them and start your bin of cleaned strawberries.  Move on to the non-bruised strawberries.
Take them out one by one, and push the drinking straw through the pointy end of each strawberry up towards the leafy cap, and pop out the tough core.

Each of your strawberries will have a neat little hole in them, and the cap will be removed.

Take a layer of strawberries in a medium sized container, and smash them with a fork (or a potato masher).

Dump the smashed, juicy strawberries into a large bowl.  Work through the berries in the sink, and any subsequent batches until you have this very juicy, rough berry "soup."

Measure out sugar and pectin for 1 batch of Jam (recipe is on the side of the instant pectin - or see below*), and stir them together. 

Add the right amount of strawberry"soup."  Stir together and ladle into the warm, clean jars.  Screw on the lids, let 'em cool a bit and stick them in the freezer, but leave some in the fridge to eat tonight, tomorrow, and soon.

This works with yogurt, ice-cream, toast, and works remarkably well as the strawberries for a fall (winter, Valentine's Day?) strawberry shortcake.

*Super Fast Strawberry Freezer Jam
(courtesy of Ball's Instant Pectin)  For 2C of Jam

1 2/3 C smashed strawberries (substitute raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, marionberries, cherries)**
2/3 C sugar
2 Tbs Instant Pectin

Stir together the sugar and pectin
Add the fruit and stir for about 3 minutes
Ladle the jam into freezer safe jars (or study freezer-happy plastic snap top containers)
let set for 30 min and enjoy, or pop in the freezer for future use.

**You can also do this with peaches, apricots or nectarines or plums.  But peel, pit and finely chop.  And use 1Tbs bottled/ pasteurized lemon juice to keep the pH correct to stop the bad bugs.

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