Secret ingredient this week? Strawberries. I love strawberries, and they are in season right now! We have a lot of amazing things in California, and this is one of them. My friend Beth Abernathy and I picked strawberries once when I lived in North Carolina, and I remember that she made freezer jam with them. I did not do anything so industrious with mine. Actually, I think I tried to make some sort of jam, but it turned out more like ice cream topping. Delicious, yes. But it was not my intended result. Now, 6 years later, I decided to conquer freezer jam once and for all.
I had some stumbling blocks on the way. I had some “trouble” finding 1/2 pint freezer jars. I use trouble in quotes because it turned out Ralph’s had them the whole time, I just hadn’t realized that they were freezer safe.
I bought too many strawberries, as per usual. It actually only took me one normal sized strawberry basket (although they do pile them pretty high at the farmers market). I had two extra, one of which I will address shortly.
The first thing to do is to crush the strawberries. You need 4 cups whole to make 1 3/4 cups crushed. You can do this with a pastry cutter, a blender, or a food processor.
From there, you add 4 cups sugar and 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel. I know it seems like way too much sugar, but most recipes are pretty adamant about not reducing the amount of sugar. Apparently it affects how the jam ultimately sets. Let this mixture stand for 10 minutes.
Then, mix half of a 6 ounce package of liquid fruit pectin with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. (For the mathematically challenged, that’s 3 ounces of liquid fruit pectin.) Add this to the berry mixture. Stir it for 3 minutes.
Ladle this into half pint freezer containers. Leave a half inch headspace. Seal and label. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours, or until set. Store 3 weeks in refrigerator or 1 year in freezer. It theoretically makes 4 half-pints. Somehow, mine made 5.
I still had 2 baskets of strawberries left! So I made the delightful raspberry lemonade you see below. I just mixed it with cold water instead of sparkling water or club soda, but that sounds amazing too. I ate the other basket plain. They were quite tasty.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
- 2 cups cold sparkling water or club soda
- Mint sprigs, garnish
- Whole strawberries, garnish
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon peel and lemon juice, stir, and remove from the heat. Let cool completely, then strain into a clean pitcher.
In a blender, puree the pint of strawberries and add to the pitcher with the lemon juice. Stir well to combine and refrigerate until well chilled.
Add the sparkling water and stir well. Pour over glasses filled with ice and serve, garnished with mint and strawberries.