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I am ready for winter

I am ready for winter

I think some of my earliest and fondest food memories come from my grandmother’s kitchen. My parent’s divorced when I was very young. And my Dad, I am sure, was a bit overwhelmed with caring for two young girls (me and my big sis) and he also worked many Saturdays. So we spent a lot of time with my grandparents who have a large house on a big lot (for San Francisco East Bay Area standards) and a large garden. Summer days were spent picking (well mostly eating on my part) vegetables and berries with my grandma in the garden. I have fond memories of picking warm raspberries from the bush, my grandma capturing many baskets and me with a tummy ache and about half a basket for my efforts.

My grandma also canned and dried everything from jams to the best pickled green beans you have ever seen. One of my favorite sweet treats was freezer jam! Even in the winter you could grab one of her square containers from the freezer and have what tasted like fresh berry puree on your toast or waffle. There was nothing like it!

For years I have thought fondly of my grandmother’s freezer jam. Even though she is still going strong well into her 80s, she no longer cans or makes jam. So to satisfy my childhood love, I decided this year, with all the abundant berries produced by our warm spring (otherwise known as the drought) to attempt my own freezer jam.

Quick chunky strawberry puree

Quick chunky strawberry puree

I read a few articles online and got the impression that I just needed to buy the pectin and follow the package instructions. There is even freezer jam version of pectin, which of course I found after I had loaded up my freezer. I of course bought two different kinds of pectin (why I don’t know) and they appear to be made by the same manufacturer (Sure-Jell) but were very different. The first one had you cook the pectin and mix it with the fruit puree and sugar. The recipe also produced a lot more jam. I did a coarse puree in my food processor, cooked the pectin and added sugar. Then you let it sit on the counter overnight and wa la! strawberry jam.

Potato masher allows you to leave the berries chunkier

Potato masher allows you to leave the berries chunkier

The second kind of pectin used less berries and sugar and made about half as much jam (thank god because my little apartment freezer got quite full). It also required no cooking! You simply mashed the berries (if you are anti seeds you could strain them, but I like them) and then added the pectin and sugar and stirred. Let it sit again overnight and then wa la more jam!

I think I like the no cook variety better. They are both delicious and reminiscent of my youth, but the strawberry is more gelatin-like and the raspberry is much more like a raspberry sauce. Next year I will definitely try the special freezer jam version of pectin to see if the results are any different. But as you can see, I have plenty of jam for winter (for perhaps several families). I see some linzer cookies or thumbprints in my future. But overall, even if you use store bought berries this is an easy and fabulous way to have a little bit of summer all year long!

Yummy raspberry jam on my morning toast

Yummy raspberry jam on my morning toast