All I can say is holy moly, this jam is so good! I told you that I would report back after experimenting yesterday, and I am ready to do just that. Here we go:
I tried a few different variations, the first being a cooked strawberry vanilla bean jam. It was really good, but the vanilla bean flavor was too subtle next to the fragrant strawberries. I simmered the strawberries and 1 cup of sugar for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then I removed the pot from the heat, and whisked in the remaining sugar (which had been mixed well with the Instant Clearjel). I let it sit for about 30 minutes to cool down, and then scooped it into freezer containers with lids.
Version two was raw. I followed the recipe exactly as is, but added some of my favorite vanilla paste from Nielsen Massey. This jam was delicious! After letting the jam sit and thicken for 10 minutes, I scooped it into freezer containers with lids and popped them in the freezer.
Version three was probably my favorite (even though I love the vanilla version above). I made the recipe as written, except used about 4 3/4 cups of smashed strawberries, about 1/4 cup of a bold red wine and the zest of 1 lemon. I admit I got the idea while sipping a glass of red wine and making jam. Sometimes inspiration strikes in the craziest ways: )
Oh, and one more thing. If you’re not familiar working with Instant Clearjel, there are a few things you need to know. The Instant Clearjel MUST be mixed with the dry sugar in this recipe (which is why you can’t sub agave here.) It is an instant starch, which means that it will gel everything into a big glob, if not diluted with the other dry ingredients (i.e. sugar), and then slowly whisked into the smashed strawberries. I know this from experience. Trust me on this.
So here’s the recipe again, with my new additions added. Oh, and you can reduce the sugar to taste if desired, as long as you have at least 1 cup to mix with the Instant Clearjel. I found that two cups was just sweet enough so that it tastes like jam, but isn’t cloyingly sweet like many jams can be. But, the reason that most jam is so sweet is because you need enough sugar to both jell it into jam and also keep botulism at bay. The great thing about this freezer jam is that it’s frozen, so you don’t have to worry about that.
I’ll be making lots more jam this summer, but since my freezer is FULL of strawberry jam now, I’ll be canning the next few rounds as cherries, raspberries and blackberries come into season.
Let me know if you give this recipe a try.
Julie’s Strawberry Lemon Freezer Jam
5 cups smashed fresh strawberries (if desired, substitute 1/4 to 1/3 cup smashed strawberries with red wine)
2 cups granulated sugar (I used organic sugar which I whizzed in a processor to make super-fine), or to taste
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Instant Clearjel
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Place smashed strawberries in a large bowl. Stir in the lemon zest
In a smaller bowl, mix together sugar and Instant Clearjel, whisking until well mixed. Slowly add the sugar mixture to the strawberries, whisking until very well mixed and sugar looks dissolved. If you don’t stir it well, the starch will thicken in clumps. This should only take a minute or so.
Let the jam sit for 10 minutes to completely firm up, before scooping into freezer-safe containers with lids. Freeze the jam for up to 1 year.