Right? Everyone with me?
The only damper to picking at King's Orchard was the price. The berries were $3.35 a pound-- and yeah, that's a lot. However, the quality was superb...the berries were the best I've ever had. We printed a coupon off their website that was good for $10 off 20 pounds. Well, the scale said 19 1/2 pounds, and the lady at the counter wouldn't let my hubby use the coupon at first. It's about a 1/2 mile walk from the stand to the berry patch, and David said something to the tune of, "You're really going to make me walk all the way back to pick 1/2 a pound?" In the end, they said, "Okay, this time, we'll let it go," but let me assure you, if they hadn't, David would not go back to King's Orchard again, period. He just doesn't have the patience for people who will argue over 1/2 a pound...he thinks it's bad customer service.
Okay...now that we've gotten that unpleasant business out of the way...let's talk jam. The strawberries we picked were very ripe, so they wouldn't last but 2, maybe 3 days at the most. I knew I would slice some up and freeze them for later, but wasn't sure what to do with the rest. My mother-in-law said, "Well, why don't we made some freezer jam? It's easy, and we can get it done in no time." I thought it was a capital idea, so once we got home, we dropped off the kids, and headed back out to Walmart to get plastic freezer jars, liquid pectin, and sugar.
Freezer jam is super easy. You don't have to slice the strawberries, sterilize any jars, boil them...nothing like that. All you have to do is mash up the berries, add sugar and pectin, combine well, pour the mixture into clean jars, freeze them, and you're done.
Start off with 2 cups of clean strawberries. Remove the green hulls and place in a large measuring cup. Use a potato masher to smash them up...a few small chunks are fine.
Don't use a blender or food processor...you'll end up with strawberry puree, and you don't want that. Small pieces of fruit give the finished jam texture, and I like the homemade look, don't you?
We decided to use 4 cups of strawberries, 4 cups of sugar, and one package of pectin. The berries were so sweet, it really didn't make sense to use any more sugar, although technically, we should have used 8 cups. I tasted the mixture with 4 cups of sugar, and it was plenty sweet.
In another bowl or measuring cup, combine 4 cups of sugar and one package of liquid pectin. Here's the brand we used...you can use your favorite.
Combine the pectin/sugar mixture with the crushed strawberries. Stir very well for about 3-5 minutes, making sure the sugar and pectin are fully dissolved.
I tried to take pictures of the process...there was a LOT going on in the kitchen at the same time! My sister-in-law and brother-in-law arrived and were processing their strawberries while we were making jam, David and my father-in-law were eating lunch, and there were 8 kids running around...in and out of the house...it was crazy!
Here's my mother-in-law Terry ladling the first batch of jam into the jars.
In the end, we had 20, 1-cup plastic jars of jelly (and one small container because we ran out of jars). Oh, and one BIG mess in the kitchen! Let the jars sit at room temperature for 24 hours, then freeze until solid.
When you want to use your homemade jam, thaw a jar in the fridge overnight and use within 2 weeks of opening.
Note: After 24 hours, the jam really hadn't set up like we though it should have. It wasn't very thick like store-bought jam, but it tasted GREAT--really fruity and fresh. We probably should have used 2 packages of pectin instead of one for each batch. I'm going to thaw all the jars tonight and stir in 2-3 more packets of pectin so the jam sets up better. It's still a great sense of accomplishment to make jam for the first time. I have to give all the credit to my mother-in-law Terry...she is awesome! I definitely want to try making freezer jam again. We have blackberries coming on in the back yard...doesn't homemade blackberry jam sound amazing?
Enjoy the "fruits" of your labor, and God bless your table tonight!