By Leslie Jonath

Florida’s strawberry harvest came late, causing it to bump up against California’s strawberry season, which means there’s now a nationwide glut of strawberries. With so many cheap strawberries flooding the market, it is time to start putting up and putting out.

A fast and easy way to do this is to make strawberry “freezer jam”. A freezer jam is a simple way to make jam without having to process it in a water bath. Instead, you make the jam, pour it into sterilized jars (leaving room at the top for the fruit to expand), seal and then place in the freezer. Because the jam is not processed, however, you will need to keep it stored in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Once defrosted, the jam will keep in your refrigerator for up to one month as noted in this recipe adapted from the classic preserving book, Putting Food By.

“Best-Ever” (Frozen) Strawberry Jam

2 cups strawberries (about 1 quart), washed and hulled
4 cups sugar
¾ cup water
1 ¾ ounces powdered pectin

In a medium-sized bowl using a wooden spoon, crush one layer at a time of ripe strawberries. Measure 2 cups of crushed berries into a bowl. Add the sugar to the fruit, mix well, and let stand for 10 minutes; a few sugar crystals will remain but they will dissolve as the jam sets. Mix the water and the pectin in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir the pectin into the fruit; continue stirring for 3 minutes. Ladle quickly into sterilized freezable jars, leaving ½ inch of headroom. Seal immediately with sterilized, tight-fitting lids. Let jars stand at room temperature until the jam has set and the mixture has cooled, which may take up to 24 hours, then place in freezer. Store in the freezer until ready to use. Once defrosted, the jam will last up to one month in the refrigerator. Makes approximately five 8-ounce jars.

If you would prefer to simply freeze whole berries: Choose slightly firm tart medium-sized berries with solid red centers. (Plan to slice or crush the large ones). Sort, wash in cold water; drain and remove the hulls. In a shallow bowl, add ¾ cup sugar to each 1 quart of berries. Pack in ziplock plastic bags leaving ½ inch at the top (for the fruit to expand as it freezes). Put in the freezer.

Image source: Flickr member tanakawho under Creative Commons

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