strawberry freezer jam

All of my adult life I’ve been on the hunt for jam that tastes as good as what my mom made when I was growing up.  It’s been a pretty fruitless (no pun intended) search.  There’s a Polish brand of preserves that almost hits the mark, but doesn’t quite.  I’ve also tried many farmer’s market homemade jams over the years and while they are good and often involved multiple flavors in one jar (jalapeno-pear say, or blueberry-rhubarb), they tend to be on the expensive side and sometimes all you want is simple strawberry jam for your toast.

My mom has told me for years that it is super simple to make but until last week I had never once attempted.  How foolish I was!  Once again, should have listened to my mom earlier.  It’s one of the simplest things to put together and I have to admit I was kind of pumped picking up a pack of Ball jars for canning at the grocery store.  Made me feel all resourceful and stuff.

One thing that I wasn’t wild about in this recipe: the amount of sugar required.  I asked my mom if I could cut it down and she advised that you can skimp by about a 1/4 of a cup but don’t dare cut more than that or it won’t set properly.  I heeded her advice and the jam came out great.  Since a little goes a long ways and you don’t eat it by the cup-full the sugar isn’t such a big deal after all.  Now I just need to get my mom’s bread recipe and I’ll totally be in business.  Stay tuned…

Strawberry Freezer Jam (from Sure Jell packaging recipe)

  • 2 pints of strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced in half
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 box Sure Jell fruit pectin
  • ¾ cup water

Crush strawberries with a potato masher or place in a food processor and pulse to finely chop.  Do not puree.  Jam should have chunks of fruit.

Measure crushed strawberries (you want 2 cups exactly, discard any excess fruit) into large bowl.  Pour 4 cups of sugar over strawberries and stir.  Let stand 10 minutes; stir occasionally.

Stir 1 box of pectin and ¾ cup water into small saucepan.  Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Stir pectin mixture into fruit mixture.  Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes.

Pour into five 8 oz. plastic or glass jelly jars, leaving a ½-inch space at top for expansion during freezing; cover.

Let stand at room temperature 24 hours until set.  Refrigerate up to 3 weeks.  Otherwise, store in freezer for up to 1 year.  Thaw in refrigerator.

christmas cookies

Today is another bonus post as I am sharing three (three!) recipes of sweet treats.  Unfortunately I was not so great with the photography of said sweet treats while making them… You will see that I got some beginning images of two of the cookies and nothing at all of the buckeyes.  So even though you will not have much of a visual feast with this here post I guarantee you that the recipes herein are winners.  Guarantee!

One of my favorite traditions of the season is exchanging plates of various Christmas cookies and candies with neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc.  The variety of cookies is key because there’s bound to be something you’ll like on the plate and conversely something that the recipients of your plates will like.  For example, those little peanut butter cookies with the Hershey’s Kiss in the middle that seem to be so popular this time of year– I love those things!

So this year I made jam thumbprint cookies for people who don’t like super sweet things, caramelita bars for people who like rich treats, and buckeyes for everybody.  Because who doesn’t like buckeyes?  They’re crowd-pleasers.  Peanut butter and chocolate is the finest food pairing that ever existed, for shizz.

The buckeyes went first, then the caramelita bars, and finally the jam thumbprints.  Add one or all to your Christmas cookie plates this year!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies (from recipes for “Basic Vanilla Dough” and “Thumbprints and Ball Cookies” at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Jar of fruit jam of your choice (I used raspberry and blackberry)

Whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls.  Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each 1 inch apart.

Press well into the center of each ball using your finger.  Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven, and press well again with handle end of a wooden spoon.  Bake until firm, 7 to 9 minutes more.

Let cool completely.  Spoon filling into thumbprints.

Crunchy Buckeyes

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chips or baking bars—both work)

Mix butter and peanut butter in a large bowl.  Add crispy rice cereal and blend, then add confectioners sugar and blend.  Form dough into balls and place on foil-lined baking sheet.  Place sheets in freezer to harden for about 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in heat-proof bowl placed over saucepan with boiling water, stirring until smooth.  Dip peanut butter balls in melted chocolate with fork until only an “eye” of peanut butter is visible (i.e. ¾ of the ball should be completely covered in chocolate.)  Set on foil-lined baking sheet to cool and set.

Oatmeal Caramelita Bars

CRUST:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cup butter, softened

FILLING:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped nuts, optional
  • 12 oz jar of caramel ice cream topping
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 13”x 9” pan with butter.  In large bowl combine all crust ingredients.  (I recommend using a pastry knife or a fork to do so.  I used my stand mixer and it pulverized the oatmeal to flour consistency.)  Press half of crumb mixture, about 3 cups, into prepared pan.  Reserve remaining crumb mixture for topping.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle warm base with chocolate chips and nuts if using.  Combine caramel topping and flour.  Pour evenly over chocolate chips and nuts.  Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.  Return to oven and bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely.  Cut into bars.  (Note: refrigerate prior to cutting to make it easier on yourself.)