Made Strawberry Freezer Jam and Froze Strawberries On This 4th Of July!

Not a traditional way to spend the Fourth, admittedly, but my wonderful husband went to a you-pick farm yesterday and picked 22 pounds of lovely strawberries.  Since we had company over yesterday and I was busy cooking for that, he also washed and hulled all the berries for me–what a sweetie!  Into the refrigerator they went until today, when I turned them into jam and frozen whole berries. 

I just do individually quick frozen berries–place the cleaned berries on a cookie sheet so the berries are not touching one another, and then place the sheet in the freezer.  In an hour or two, they are frozen and can be transferred to a labeled ziplock bag, which is what I did.

I also made sugar-free jam.  I have a neat cookbook called Canning and Preserving Without Sugar by Norma M. MacRae, who is a dietician and nutritionist.  The recipe I used is called “Strawberry Preserves.”  I like my jam fruity and fairly soft set, so I don’t really like to use pectin at all.  The recipe calls for 10 cups cleaned strawberries, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I also added some rind as well),  concentrated white grape juice (you take 3 cups of white grape juice, put in a pot and boil it down to 1 cup. ) That’s it.  Take 5 cups of the strawberries and put them in a big  nonaluminum pot (I use an 8-quart stainless steel stock pot) with the lemon juice and grape juice.  Bring it to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat a bit and continue cooking until it thickens a bit.  It was about 15-20 minutes for me.  (It does set up more as it cools.)  Take the pot off the heat, and stir in the remaining 5 cups of strawberries, which you can dice, slice or leave whole–your preference.  This cools the mixture off quite a bit.  I then decided to freeze it, so I filled my plastic containers, leaving 3/4 of an inch at the top (this is important, because the jam will swell when frozen.)  Put the lid on, and label it.  I also made up 3 pints which I put in the refrigerator to eat up in the next couple of weeks.  One batch makes 10 1/2 cups of jam, or roughly 5 pints.

Total, I made 14 pints of sugar-free jam, and ended up with 1 one-gallon bag full of individually quick frozen whole strawberries.  We paid $1/pound for the berries (!), and about $2.90 for the white grape juice.  I already had some fresh lemons and containers, so this ended up being a fairly inexpensive project that I will be very happy to have come cold winter weather.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!!

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