Friday, July 16, 2010

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Last year I started making homemade strawberry freezer jam. I made 24 jars and it lasted us all year, we did use it sparingly though. This year, I wanted to make sure we would have enough. Making our own jam not only tastes better than store bought - it saves us money too! Here are the quick in's and out's...

Look at these beauties. First you need to find quality strawberries at a good price. I found Dole strawberries at our local Fresh Market 4 lbs for $3.98 - amazing price!! I maybe bought 16 lbs, too much for our family of 3, but I'll share another way I use them too...

After washing and de-stemming I cut the berries in half and throw them into my food processor. Pulse to a coarse chop. Jam should have fruit bits in it, we like it chunky - so this is the consistency I go for.

Last year I didn't have a food processor large enough so I mashed all my berries by hand with a potato masher - it took forever, but the results were amazing. To save time, and your hand from cramping up, I would suggest a food processor.

After following the instructions on your choice of pectin (discussed below) - fill your clean jars. These wide mouthed funnels are a life saver!

A few hours and 40 jars later - we're good to go for the next year, and then some probably.

I actually only used about 10 lbs to get 40 jars. The other 6 pounds I pulsed to a coarse chop and froze in ice cube trays to be used in smoothies later. My Little Miss has recently decided that she doesn't like drinking milk so much. I don't want to give her chocolate milk because it's just full of sugar - but she does need her calcium. So we have special strawberry smoothies.

Only two ingredients - milk and a few of these strawberry cubes. While being processed in the blender the cubes are so cold it turns her milk into a smoothie and she guzzles it up - without all the extra sugar.

Now let's talk pectin. The original pectin, found in this yellow box, calls for 2 cups strawberries & 4 cups sugar...double the sugar. It is, in my opinion, so disgustingly sweet and bad for you. The jam turns into this light pink sticky sugary goo. Not a fan.
If you buy the no sugar/less sugar pectin, found in this pink box, the recipe calls for 4 cups strawberries & 3 cups sugar. Much, much better! Way more acceptable sugar to berry ratio. And it is still plenty sweet enough. The end result is a beautiful dark jam with visible fruit chunks. It is so tasty.
We've tried both and let me just save you the time and waste of good berries - go for the pink box!! You can see the difference in this pic - good jam on the left, bad sugar jam on the right.

Now the price break down.

Average store bought jam = $1.00 / 8 oz.
Homemade jam = $0.68 / 8 oz.

I just saved my family $12.80 in a few hours!! I know, it doesn't seem like a lot. But the trick is to find ways to save money throughout your house and it all adds up.

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