Eco-novice is jammin'
This season has been the first season during which I have attempted preserving and canning. The very first thing I tried was freezer jam, since it's so easy. And it really is incredibly easy. I really wanted to try to make some strawberry jam without any refined sugar and without any heating/cooking (to preserve nutritional value as well as the delicious taste of fresh strawberries). I used Pomona Pectin and followed the instructions in the package for making freezer jam with honey.
The good news is, it worked. I used a little less honey than the recipe called for so it wouldn't be so runny and so the honey flavor wouldn't overpower the strawberries, and the mixture did "jam" (thicken up into a jam-like consistency), although not quite as much as the strawberry jam with sugar (my friend made a batch with sugar, while I made a batch with honey, which made it easy to compare). It also ended up being quite economical. Four or five open pints of organic strawberries (I bought a half-flat for $8 at the farmer's market), plus a buck or two for honey and pectin yielded 10 cups of jam, which means I paid less than a dollar per cup for organic strawberry jam. Not bad.
For those even more novice than the Eco-novice, here are the simple steps involved. Although I made this jam with a friend late at night after our kids were in bed, you can see that this is a very kid-friendly process. I can see even a very young child helping with the mashing, blending, stirring, and pouring into jars.
|Prepping the strawberries.|
|Mashing the strawberries to desired consistency: Before|
|Mashing the strawberries to desired consistency: After|
|Blending up the pectin and water into a gel-like thing. No expertise required.|
|After adding the pectin mixture to the strawberries and honey -- it's jamming!|
|Using a funnel to get the mixture in the jars.|
|Defrost in the fridge and enjoy!|
|Yummy on homemade whole wheat bread.|
If you have never canned or preserved before, I heartily recommend you give freezer jam a try. If your family likes fresh jam, that is. My jam turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, I have since realized that my family does not eat enough jam to even make it through the one-cup containers before the jar goes bad. I'm more of a toast and butter kind of gal, and while the fresh strawberry jam would be delicious on french toast or whole wheat pancakes, I, myself, prefer maple syrup or whipped cream with fresh fruit. Perhaps if I had used sugar or made cooked jam with frozen grape juice concentrate (another refined sugar alternative, but only for cooked jam), the jars would last a little longer in the fridge. Also, I wish I had mashed the strawberries more so that the end result was more smooth less chunk, which is what my kids are used to. Oh well. No worries - it's not going to waste. My sister and her housemates have been enjoying it lots.
Do you have a favorite freezer or cooked jam recipe? Please share!