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Strawberry Jam

Published in Amherst Citizen - May 23, 2000

It's hard to believe but school is nearly out and Memorial Weekend is upon us. When my son was younger we would always go strawberry picking soon after school finished. So I thought I would introduce some of you to the delights of home made jams. Now, before you decide to stop reading, let me point out that I am talking about freezer jams. Another one of those items that is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Gone are the days when you had to stand over a huge preserving pan boiling the fruit and sugar to reach the point when the jam was ready. Homemade freezer jam is so easy and once tasted, you and the family will be reluctant to go back to the store bought variety. When I run out of home made strawberry jam, my son refuses to eat any other bought jam.

I tend to pick about 15 lbs. of strawberries, pig out on fresh strawberries, make several batches of freezer jam and then chop the rest of the strawberries and freeze them (without the sugar) in the quantities required to make more jam from the frozen strawberries. I also like to slice, sugar and freeze strawberries to get a wonderful strawberry sauce, once thawed, for cheesecakes or waffles. Freezer jam is made by adding commercial pectin (sold under brand names Certo and Sure Jell) to prepared fruit and sugar. The pectin is found in the cooking oil aisle in Market Basket.

I just made raspberry jam this week by mixing together 2 c of crushed raspberries with 4 c of sugar. The recipe states to let the fruit mix stand for about 10 minutes and then add the pectin and lemon juice. Stir and then pour into glass or tupperware style containers. Leave to sit for 24 hours and then refrigerate or freeze. This is an easy activity to do with the kids and produces 4-5 cups of jam. The packets contain explicit directions. The only part I do differently is that I leave the sugar and fruit mix until the sugar is totally dissolved, stirring occasionally, which can take several hours. This was the way the instructions worked in England by the same brand. I also cheat by putting the sugar and fruit mix in the microwave for about 3 minutes to help the sugar to dissolve quicker. I would suggest you follow the packet directions the first time. When I run out of fresh jam in the winter I buy the frozen raspberries and strawberries and make the jam. Just empty out the fruit while still frozen so you don't lose any of the juices, add sugar, thaw and continue.

The flavor is so intense and wonderful. These jams make wonderful teachers gifts. There are directions for a variety of jams and jellies including grape jelly and hot pepper jelly. I like to add fresh mango to my raspberry jam.

I checked with Brookdales (465-2240) in Hollis and Wilson's (882-5551) in Litchfield for harvest dates. Strawberries are in bloom now so fruit should follow about three weeks later i.e. about mid June. Early raspberries are ready about end of June and late raspberries in late August. Blueberries are ready about early July. Always go early morning before it gets too hot and check with the farm stand in advance since the weather dictates the availability of fruit. Bring hats, water and bug spray plus snacks for the kids. If you have soft garden kneelers bring those as well to save your knees.

Next month I'll share my English recipe for home made scones that are 'heaven on earth' with fresh jam and whipped cream.

Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations has a Culinary Arts degree, is a qualified teacher and offers a personal chef/catering service as well as private cooking classes in clients' homes. Oonagh makes frequent appearances on WMUR ABC's Channel 9's Cooks Corner. Watch her on May 26 at 9 am for a fabulous shrimp and scallop recipe. Visit Oonagh's web site at for more details and recipes or contact her at 424-6412.

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Last modified: Oct. 30, 2000
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