We’re Jamming

Fragaria x ananassa.

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I live in Northern California where every year, we have gorgeous, organic strawberries from our local Farmer’s Market. I find that I can get a great bulk discount from the farmers. But, what to do with so much gorgeous fruit that we don’t eat raw, in smoothies, homemade frozen yogurt, etc?

I hull and quarter most of the strawberries that I have bought at their peak season from the farmer’s market then place them in 2 cup glass containers and freeze. I find that they are mushy when defrosted, so we use these to make homemade frozen yogurt or smoothies. This way we still get all the vibrant, red nutrition even during the off-season.

Getting started on the strawberry feast

Getting started on the strawberry feast

This year, my kids and I decided to make strawberry freezer jam, as well. Strawberry jam is a favorite staple in this house, so making it ourselves makes sense. I would like our strawberries to last as long as possible when we can no longer find them fresh locally. I chose the freezer method, as opposed to the cooked method, because it is as close to raw as possible and because the kids could be involved in the entire process without me having to worry about them getting burned.

I prefer recipes that the kids can be fully involved in without me having to watch over them all of the time. The idea of us working side-by-side on a project gives them some autonomy in exploring the process and ownership of the finished product.

We used the recipe that came in the Pectin packet, but I was inspired by the idea here.

Strawberry Freezer Jam Ingredients

Strawberry Freezer Jam Ingredients

Ingredients and Supplies:
Sterilize equipment prior to use; this can be done in a dishwasher or in a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes.

  • Mixing bowl
  • 6-7 8oz glass canning jars
  • Blender, masher, or mixer
  • Ladle & spoons
  • about 8 cups of fresh strawberries (makes 4 cups when blended)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tsp Pectin
  • 3-6 tsp Calcium water
  • 1 cup organic raw sugar
Showing off Washed Strawberries

Showing off Washed Strawberries

My kids proudly washed the strawberries.

Take a picture of my strawberries, mom

Take a picture of my strawberries, mom

They enjoyed washing the strawberries. A lot.

Strawberry hulling

Strawberry hulling

I hulled the strawberries to save as much of the fruit as possible, then quartered them before blending. They helped with this process, but I was monitoring them with the sharp paring knives and didn’t feel comfortable being distracted by the camera.

The kids put the strawberries in the blender and ran it We did have a short break while we cleaned up after turning on the blender without the lid on.

They blended about 4 cups of sliced fruit at a time-so 2 batches in the blender. They left the strawberries fairly lumpy, but I think next time we’ll mash them by hand with a masher. The kids will definitely be into that!

Berries in blender

Berries in blender

Once the kids had both batches of strawberry puree in the mixing bowl, they measured, poured and mixed in the sugar. Then, they got busy cleaning out blender and, of course, eating some of the strawberries that didn’t make it into the puree.

While the kids were occupied; I brought the water to a boil. I removed the inner lid from the blender to vent, poured the water in the blender, then slowly added the pectin with the blender on low. Once the pectin was thoroughly mixed, I poured it in while they mixed with their spoons this is where the large mixing bowl comes in handy for 2 stirrers at a time. I have to say that mixing the pectin was kind of a pain in the Vitamix and would probably work better in a blender that you can remove the bottom of the container from to scrape out the thickened pectin mixture.

Next, the kids stirred in the calcium water while I slowly added it by the teaspoon until we saw it “gel.”

The Gel Factor

The Gel Factor

Then, I ladled the mixture into the jars while they were on lid duty (they chose lid duty because they didn’t want to drip any jam at this point). The kids were in charge of making certain the jars were filled so that there was about 1 inch space at the top. We put the jars in the freezer like a little bank of yumminess to enjoy later.

We had extra unsweetened strawberry puree, so the kids put it to good use: They filled popsicle molds about 3/4 of the way then froze (You can see 2 of the molds left in the photo-minus 2 already eaten.) The rest of the puree was used as a sauce along with the leftover sliced berries for strawberry shortcake.

Berry Yumminess in the Bank

Berry Yumminess in the Bank

I look forward to my family enjoying our homemade strawberry jam after fresh, local strawberry season is over. I feel like they’ll be getting the healthiest, freshest version of strawberry jam we could get. And I love the idea of teaching them that jam is made from real, whole food like the strawberries we pick from our garden. In future seasons, I hope to take the kids to a farm to pick our own berries so they can better understand where our food comes from and the importance of eating local, organic, sustainably grown foods.

If you’re wondering why none of the strawberries we used were from our own garden, it’s because the ones that the kids pick are eaten as soon as they find them.

More Information:

  • Local Harvest has listings for local farmers markets, CSAs, family farms, and other sustainably grown foods. You can search here for resources close to you.
  • Organic Consumers Association is a non-profit
    grassroots organization with information about issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics.
  • Vitamix is the blender I used for this recipe. There a many raw food recipes on their website that you can make with your blender.
  • Weck Canning Jars Did you know there is a lining on the underside of metal canning lids that contains bPA? It’s one of the reasons I chose to make freezer jam instead of cooked jam. The heat can cause the plastic lining to release more chemicals. Weck makes glass lids that can be reused. I plan to buy some as soon as budget allows.
  • Pick Your Own has listings for Pick-Your-Own farms in various areas as well as tips and instructions on canning and freezing what you pick.
  • Organize: Canning at Home has many of the supplies as well as information and recipes for various methods of canning.

Related Posts:

This post was written for inclusion in the Green Moms Carnival: July 2011 on the topic of Food Preservation. This month’s carnival is hosted by Farmer’s Daughter

Ooh, yeah! All right!
We’re jammin’:
I wanna jam it wid you.
We’re jammin’, jammin’,
And I hope you like jammin’, too.

Ain’t no rules, ain’t no vow, we can do it anyhow:
I’n’I will see you through,
‘Cos everyday we pay the price with a little sacrifice,
Jammin’ till the jam is through.

We’re jammin’ –
To think that jammin’ was a thing of the past;
We’re jammin’,
And I hope this jam is gonna last.

5 thoughts on “We’re Jamming

  1. This looks so good! What an amazing project to take on. 🙂

    I’ve always been interested in the idea of canning/preserving/making jam but it’s seemed daunting to me. This doesn’t look too bad though. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kelly. This was my first experience without an expert canner to watch. Freezer jam definitely comes out more runny that the cooked jelly, but it tastes really yummy. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but next batch, I want to add more sweetener. Although we may try succanat instead of sugar for half the batch and see what happens. I’m a little wary of using honey since ours is raw and my kids are little. It freaks me out slightly.

  2. Oh, that looks delicious! There is no such thing as organic strawberries here unless you grow them yourself, which I didn’t, or buy frozen, and it’s really getting to the time of year when I’m craving some. Fortunately, I have gotten my fix through you!

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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