My husband and I had a lovely day picking strawberries yesterday on Sauvie Island here in Portland. I don’t know what it is, whether it’s Sauvie Island, being out in the fields, or just picking berries that makes me so happy and fills my soul. I am quite sure the company has a lot to do with it too. Did I mention that we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary? Crazy, but I still feel like a newlywed most of the time.
After hours of walking and searching the fields of the first farm, only to discover that they had been picked clean the day before, we happily stumbled onto a neighboring farm where we quickly picked 15 pounds of Hood strawberries (which are the most magical little berries.) They burst with sweetness, and are so incredibly fragrant too! I anxiously await their short growing season every year.
So today I’ve got a huge box of strawberries in my kitchen waiting to be used. I will can a few batches of strawberry jam in jars, but I also like to make freezer jam too. I prefer making the freezer jam with Instant Clearjel, because it’s so darn easy. Instant Clearjel is just an instant cornstarch (which is supposed to be non-GMO) made from maize, and is freezer-stable (unlike cornstarch.) If you make it, be sure to get “Instant” Clearjel and not regular. The regular Clearjel needs to be cooked (although you are able to can it, unlike the instant which cannot be canned.) What I like about it is that you don’t have to cook the strawberries, and you can use as little sugar as you like (unlike pectin which requires sugar in order to jell.) You simply mix the sugar and Instant Clearjel together, and then whisk it into the mashed strawberries. That’s it. Easy peasy! Here’s a couple of links in case your curious about the Instant Clearjel (King Arthur and Amazon, which is cheaper).
So when I went searching this morning for my tried and true freezer jam recipe, I found it… tucked away on my very old blog. Wow, what a blast from the past…circa 2008. I had totally forgotten that it was still there. Now I’m so glad that I kept it.
Of course I’ll make a couple of tweaks to the recipe. Like adding some lemon zest to one of the batches. And scraping the seeds from a vanilla bean into another. I think I’ll even experiment with cooking the strawberries for one of the batches, and whisking in the sugar/ICJ mixture after a short simmer. I’ll be sure to let you know how it all comes out, and which batches are my favorite. That’s the great thing about having 15 pounds of strawberries. There’s lots of room for experimenting!
Here you go:
This is seriously some of the best jam ever, and it tastes like fresh picked strawberries. So good!
Julie’s Strawberry Freezer Jam
5 cups smashed fresh strawberries
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
Place smashed strawberries in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, mix together sugar and Instant Clearjel, whisking until well mixed. 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 strawberry mixture sit for 10 minutes to thicken completely. Scoop into clean jars, seal with a lid and place in freezer.