I'm not sure if I could endure the heat and humidity of summer if it weren't for the beautiful and vibrant fruits that accompany that heat and humidity. And, oh, aren't the juicy red strawberries some of your favorites? There is nothing like biting into a sun-warmed strawberry, and the juice running down your chin. A little messy--but totally worth the burst of sunshine-y flavor.
I'll tell you what almost compares to that luxurious moment: In the middle of a desolate and cold winter, opening up a jar of that sunshine-y strawberry jam!! Oh man, so many winter mornings, I basked over a warm piece of toast slathered in rosy strawberry jam. I'm smiling, just remembering how good, and how wholesome it felt to eat the strawberry jam I had canned earlier that summer.
Have you ever made strawberry jam? Or any jam/jelly, for that matter?
Growing up, making jelly seemed like something only really skilled people made. Oh, our family sure appreciated homemade jellies (Mayhaw was our family favorite!), but that wasn't something we ever tried to do.
I have a wonderful mother-in-law who grew up on a farm, and knows all about canning. My first year of marriage, she began teaching me some of these things. I was so surprised to learn that making jelly really isn't difficult--it just takes following directions and having a couple of the right tools and supplies.
Here are some of the basic tools and supplies you need for making jam/jelly:
(Obviously, you need to start with some strawberries, sugar, a pan, and a stove!)
One of my favorite canning tools! Remember, I used mine to make my Redneck brother-in-law's salsa? I bought my funnel at Walmart.
Psst! Want to know a secret? I don't own most of these items...I just "make do" with what I have. However, if you make a lot of jam/jelly, I would go buy an inexpensive starter kit (like this one at Walmart.)
Okay, ready for the Strawberry Jam Cook-Off?
Traditional jam VS. Freezer jam
Last summer, I had a big batch of strawberries I wanted to make into some jam. I knew about the traditional method, but I had also heard a lot about the freezer jam method. When I found out my Redneck brother-in-law's grandmother's FAMOUS strawberry jam was the freezer method, I KNEW I had to try it! (Grandmaw had a lot of FAMOUS recipes...)
So, what's a girl to do? She makes BOTH, and COMPARES them!
For the traditional method, I used the Strawberry Jam recipe from Allrecipes.com. I was careful to read many of the reviews, and I even followed the advice by using a little less sugar.
The result? Oh my heavens--delicious, dark red jar of gold. Okay, not really gold, but like it in that I wanted to hoard the jars.
But, next, I tried Grandma's Freezer Strawberry Jam. I was pleased to find out she always used the recipe inside the Sure Jell box. I remember there being lots of little strawberry bits in her jelly, so I was careful not to completely mash all of the berries as the directions instruct. Otherwise, I followed the directions carefully.
The result? OH my HEAVENS! I have died and gone to Strawberry Heaven!!! I will say that the texture of freezer jam is much runnier than the traditional jam. But the flavor? Knock your socks off, sweet summer strawberry! It floored me that I could put a regular glass jar of jelly in the freezer--but that's what I did, and it worked! When you're ready to eat the jam, just put the jar into the fridge for a day or two to thaw.
The Strawberry Jam Cook-Off WINNER???
For me, hands down it was the Freezer Jam!!! Okay, and I admit...I am hiding the last 2 frosty pink jars of jam at the very back of my freezer. They're mine, all mine!!
My husband actually prefers the Traditional Jam, so that works out GREAT! He and our daughters eat from those jars, and I get to keep all the freezer ones!
But, since I am the writer of this blog, the Absolute WINNER is FREEZER STRAWBERRY JAM!!!
Thank you, Grandmaw, for handing down such a delicious tradition and recipe. We will never make this jam without thinking about you!
*Check back soon--we're planning to go BLUEBERRY PICKING sometime this week!!
Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family