On the one hand, it seems quite trivial to me to write about strawberry jam today. On the other, it seems more important than ever to embrace the pure, simple, delicious pleasures of life. Besides, my sister, Cindy, told me to post this, and I generally do as she says. I’ve used less sugar in this jam by substituting a third of what the Sure-Jell Pectin recipe calls for with Monkfruit sweetener. It turned out great, no-one could tell. They didn’t even get mad at me when I revealed my trickery.
I have much to say about the state of our world today (ask my kids, and they’ll tell you with an eye roll). I’ve watched countless videos, read numerous articles, and formed many strong opinions over the last two months. I haven’t done much else. The plans I had to offer new recipes and do tons of writing did not pan out. It turns out that the fight or flight mindset that a pandemic breeds is not ripe with creativity. It did send me searching for information that would make some sense, and I found what I’ve needed to cope.
That said, I am decidedly not going to share my sources or opinions of current events with you. What I have realized with overwhelming clarity and frustration is that we are, lovely as it sounds, not all “in this together.” As individuals, we see the world through a lens tinted with our backgrounds and views of family, faith, politics, profession, age, race, sexual identity, and countless life experiences. However, these nuances get lost in a society seeking to put us in a box. Therefore, an opinion becomes an identity to the masses. It also often comes off as judgemental and intolerant to those who don’t share it, and that is the absolute last thing we need more of right now.
What I am going to do is spread as much light into the world as I possibly can. Today that comes in the form of jam made from the best strawberries on the planet (I didn’t say I wouldn’t share my opinion on food!) Of course, if you don’t have access to the Oregon variety, you can certainly use any kind you have. If you can support a local fruit stand or farmer, the result will be all the sweeter.
Oregon Strawberry Freezer Jam
(makes about 6 cups/ 3 pints)
4 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 1/2 – 6 cups/3 pints whole strawberries, the quantity will shrink significantly once stemmed and crushed)
1 package Sure-Jell fruit pectin (pink box – for less or no sugar recipes)
1 cup monk fruit sweetener
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Rinse and dry the whole strawberries.
Remove stems, slice, and measure out slightly more than 4 cups, well packed, then place in a large bowl.
For a chunky textured jam, use a firm whisk or potato masher to crush the strawberries, as pictured below. For a smooth textured jam, or if your strawberries are a little less ripe, use a blender or food processor.
Set aside the crushed strawberries and prepare the pectin/sugar mixture. If you read the recipe from the pectin package, you may notice it warns against using a sugar substitute or adjusting the amount of sugar but the monkfruit sweetener substitution worked beautifully.
In a large saucepan, combine the pectin, monkfruit sweetener, sugar, and water. Heat on medium-high, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until the mixture reaches a rolling boil. Continue to stir as it boils for one minute (I may have gone over that by 10 seconds or so) then remove from the heat.
Stir in the strawberry puree and allow it to cook for another minute.
Allow the jam to cool to a warm (from very hot) temperature, stirring occasionally, then fill freezer-safe plastic containers – BPA-free is best. (If you use glass jars, be sure and leave extra room at the top for expansion in the freezer. I have had jars explode in the past, I stick to the plastic now)
Keep the jam in the freezer for up to one year. Refrigerate for up to three weeks.
“Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.”