preserving: grandma's strawberry jam
Happy Fourth! What better day to share with you our tradition of making strawberry jam this time of year? What better recipe to share with you, than the one we refer to as 'Grandma's Strawberry Jam'? The color alone is patriotic, showing up even the brightest of fireworks. I just made a batch and it happily resides in my freezer. Though I confess, I cringe a bit when making this tradition-laden, dessert-like jam. I love the making part AND the eating part, don't get me wrong, but oh my the sugar. THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR is embarrassing. So while making pints of grandma's strawberry freezer jam this year, with earnest intent I justified the contents accordingly:
There IS fruit in it too (only half as much, but at least it is there).
I ate it and loved it as a kid; and am passing along this jam-loving tradition to my children.
It is the only way [one of my sons] will eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The peanut butter, at least, is healthy. As is the wheat bread.
My [same] son won't have to go to therapy for another year of no peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (okay, last year I missed the strawberry season and failed to make jam. It was a long year of buying store-bought jelly to see if there was an adequate replacement. Essentially, nothing came close to this heavenly spread. Only one other jam came within sniffing distance---at the alarming price of $8 per jar. Ouch.).
It saves me money. I bought a flat of berries (oh, only pacific northwest berries will do. Not that you can taste them through all the sugar, but truth be told we are absolutely snobby about using only these berries for grandma's jam. Without pacific northwest berries, it isn't the same.) aka 12 pints for $19. It made about 20 pint jars---less than a dollar a jar.
Since we are snobby about buying only local berries for grandma's jam (because that is what kind she--and her mother---always used), we support local farmers. What is not to love about that?
My final justification? I just rationalize it as dessert. Call a spade a spade: this jam is dessert. It is not intended to be health food. It is a worthy splurge on the landscape of healthy eating; note to self---just keep that in mind when reaching for some greater balance.
So, all justifications in tow, here is the recipe (straight from the pectin box) for Grandmother's Strawberry Jam:
Cut off stems, discard. Lightly chop/pulse in food processor (leave chunks). Combine 2 cups pureed strawberries and 4 cups sugar (oh, organic sugar also makes you feel better), let sit for 10-20 minutes. Stir one box pectin and 3/4 cup water in saucepan over high heat, stirring until boiling---boil for one minute then remove from stove top. Stir pectin/water mix into berry/sugar mix, making sure to dissolve all sugar granules. Pour into containers or jars, cover (lids are fine) and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours, to gel. Put into freezer to store; they keep for 3 weeks in fridge. Yield: 5 cups.