How do you combine DIY (in honor of DIY month here at Bargain Hoot) with recipes and gardening? Why with homemade freezer jam of course!
I have been a maker of jam since high school when I distinctly remember staining my favorite white tee with my first batch of blackberry. I have made many traditional jams and jellies through the years and love to see them lined up on the shelves, with ribbons tied on for Christmas gifts and on the table for dinner. But it’s the freezer jam that has family and friends coming back for more. There is just something about fresh from the vine berries crafted quickly into jam, which stores easily in the freezer for months that captures the flavors perfectly.
By purchasing fresh fruits and berries, or growing your own, you can take advantage of in-season pricing, save some money and get the best quality to feed your family. It’s the perfect DIY project for the kitchen.
My first efforts with freezer jams were the traditional strawberry and raspberry jams and they definitely remain favorites. I have since ventured into combinations including a strawberry/rhubarb mix that I came up with this year. I have read many recipes for this blend of flavors but hesitated because the rhubarb is not soft like the berries or fruits I am used to. Then, while reading recipes for a rhubarb sauce I was planning, the thought came that I could cook the rhubarb first. It worked perfectly!
Strawberry-Rhubarb Freezer Jam (makes four, 8 ounce, half pints of jam)
You will need:
3 1/3 cups of fruit (I used about 1 ½ cups of rhubarb sauce and added enough crushed strawberries to make 3 1/3 cups)
1 1/3 cups of sugar
4 tablespoons of instant pectin (I used Ball Real Fruit Instant Pectin)
Make sure to have clean, sterilized (placed in boiling water), and dried freezer jars ready to go.
For the rhubarb sauce: Melt a tablespoon or so of butter over high heat. To that add 4 cups of chopped rhubarb (peeled or not – up to you) and sugar to taste. I think I used about 1/3 cup. Cook and stir constantly until rhubarb is tender, about 5-10 minutes. Cool for use in jam.
While the sauce cools stem and crush your strawberries. I like to use a pastry cutter and potato masher.
When the sauce is cooled, measure a combination of the sauce and crushed strawberries to make a total of 3 1/3 cups of fruit.
Stir sugar and pectin in a large bowl. Add the fruit mix and stir for 3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
Fill all your containers leaving ½ inch of head space at the top of each one. Wipe off the edges of the containers and place the lids on. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the jam is ready for use. You can store it in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks and in the freezer for up to one year!
The semi-soft consistency of freezer jam is perfect on whole grain English muffins, added to a peanut butter sandwich, spread over pancakes or even as a topping for ice cream. There is nothing more satisfying than opening a container of freezer jam during the dreary winter and tasting a bit of summer in a jar!