It's summer weather, and the last thing I want to do these days is spend extra time making lunch. Which means we've been eating alot of PBJ. I know it's not exactly a super healthy lunch, but we use natural peanut butter and 100% whole wheat bread and serve it with a side of fruit and yogurt, or carrots and hummus, so it's not really that bad.
In an effort to make it even better, I decided to make my own jelly. Strawberry season is in full swing, so the girls and I went strawberry picking and brought home 11 pounds of beautiful berries. I desperately want to learn how to can jelly, but that hasn't happened yet so I settled on a big batch of freezer jam for this one. All it took was one afternoon's nap time, and I turned my berries from this...
I had to do some hunting around for freezer jam recipes, because the first couple recipes I looked at called for four CUPS of sugar; ick. So I combined a few different recipes I found, and came up with this, honey and fruit juice sweetened version. It came out tasting just like...well, like strawberries. Fresh, perfectly ripe strawberries.
Even though you can use plastic storage containers, I used 1/2 pint glass Ball jars; mostly because we try to avoid food storage in plastic, but also because the jars just look pretty :)
Here's the recipe:
I started with 4 of my green berry boxes of strawberries (I think about 6 pounds worth), washed and stemmed. Mash the berries in a large bowl. I left a fair amount of chunks in mine. After they were all mashed, it totaled about 8 cups.
Place jar lids in a pot of hot/simmering water; don't boil them.
In a large saucepan, mix well 1 cup of juice (recipe suggested apple or white grape, but I used a citrus and fruit mix I had and it was fine), 1 cup of water, and 2 packages of "No Sugar Needed" Fruit Pectin (until it's dissolved). Heat to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it's boiling, stir constantly for one full minute. Turn off heat, mix in 1/2-1 c. honey. I did closer to 1/2 c because it tasted really sweet already, but just do it to your taste. Then pour this mixture into your mashed berries and give it a stir.
Ladle into pre-sanitized jars (I boiled mine, but you could also use the sanitize option on the dishwasher). Put a lid on top, press around the edges, and put on the ring TIGHTLY.
That's it! I let mine cool on the counter to set a little, then put the jars right into the box they came in and put them in the freezer.
And, now, here's the kicker. After spending one full morning picking the strawberries, and one afternoon making them into jam, I ended up with INSANE hives, head to toe. They got worse and worse, so I finally broke down and went to urgent care. The doctor I saw believes that my up-to-my-elbows in strawberries has triggered an allergic reaction. I'm on a myriad of anti-histamines, and even have to keep an epi-pen in the house. So, I have FIFTEEN jars of delicious homemade jelly that I can't eat, just teasing me every time I open the freezer. :(