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Happy Father's Day

Strawberries for Jam

Saturday morning, I went to the farmers market just to buy local strawberries for jam.  I wanted to take the girls to pick our own, but the forecast was for temperatures in the high 90's.  They would have been fine for about, oh, five minutes in that heat.  And considering the amount of jam I wanted to make, it would have been in exercise in whining (for them) and frustration (for me).  I took the easy route.


I make freezer jam just like my mom does and like my grandma did.  (Recipe here).  It's all I have ever known, really.  As a child, I didn't realize how lucky I was.  There was never store-bought jelly in my sandwiches or on my toast.  We had a chest freezer in our garage and when the jam jar was empty, you just went and got another one.  Some years there were choices, too.  We always had strawberry and sometimes raspberry.   One year my brother asked for blueberry and my mom made it for him.  I was spoiled and I intend to do the same to my children.


Cleaning and washing the berries was my job once I was old enough to help.  I didn't much care for it then, but now I enjoy holding the familiar paring knife in my hand and cutting the tops off of the warm berries.  My mom did the rest.  The process was always a mystery - it involved sugar and sure-jell, but beyond that I didn't pay much attention.  Now I do, though.  Freezer jam is one of the easiest things I make.  The process is just as familiar to me as making chocolate chip cookies.  I have established a good rhythm, working on multiple batches at a time.  It takes a few hours, but in the end I have jam to last us the entire year.


Saturday afternoon as I sliced and mashed berries, stirring in sugar, I thought about my mom and my grandma.  I remembered being at my grandparents' farm, getting up in the morning and walking out the door to pick berries for my breakfast.  And then returning a bit later to get some more.  I remembered how much my mom hated to pick berries when she was younger, so my grandma told her if she didn't want to pick, she would have to cook.  So she cooked and my grandma picked instead.  I thought of my mom's old kitchen, the counters splashed with sugar and lined with jars, the smell of berries everywhere.  And I remembered the jam - all those jars, stacked in our freezer, labeled in my mom's handwriting.  The taste!  How nothing will ever bring me right back to my childhood as quickly as homegrown berries and strawberry jam.  And then I wondered what my girls will remember.  What thing will take them back in time?


My secret wish?  I hope it's jam.



What a beautiful story and what a treasure trove of memories for your children.
I haven't made jelly since college, you have inspired me to jump in again!
Would you share your recipe?


My mom used to make freezer jam, but somewhere along the way I lost my sweet tooth. I should think about it for the boys, though. . .


homemade strawberry jam is, to my mind, the greatest in the world. that looks delicious, and i'm confident you're creating lasting memories for your girls!

Alicia A.

You're so sweet, Erin!

Today with the very last of our strawberries (sniff sniff) I'm making fruit leathers. Wish me luck.


Thanks for the link Erin!
I'm having a give-away on my blog, come visit.


Every recipe tastes better when it comes with a story and when it is prepared in the company of helpers. Thank you for sharing your story... it's delicious!


Such wonderful sensory memories there. We are not quite at jam season here, but we're already hyping the kids up about strawberry picking and the other things we'll make with the berries. I love seeing my kiddos berry-stained faces and hands after we're done. Their picking style, like many kids, is "two for me, one for the basket."


I love this story of your wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing it and your recipe. My daughter comes home from camp tomorrow and I think this will be the perfect thing for us to do when she gets back!


i have similar memories growing up. strawberries and rhubarb. every day. never smuckers. thanks for reminding me to take he extra time.

Sarah Jackson

What a great connection with past generations and your girls. My mom was a jam maker too, and I have to confess that I haven't done it yet (mainly because my MIL keeps us fairly well stocked) but I plan to. I also remember picking the berries in the hot sun and wondering if it was all worth it. It was.

Did your mom do pickles too? Mine did, and no store bought pickle has ever come close in flavor. I was spoiled for life.


spoiled? i think you were blessed. and so are your little ones. i am glad you enjoy it so much. continue to do so!


wonderful precious memories...wow...I'm sure your children will remember with that freezer already packed with jam.... I just made jam once in my life...but planning on doing it more often! Especially now I learned jam can be freezed too! what a good idea!! lovely pictures too!


I have been debating taking Jack strawberry picking, and I just want to say it is such a relief to hear someone else say that it would have only been frustrating. I think I give myself permission to give up on that. LOL


What a great story.
I am surprised you use glass jars in the freezer. I never would have thought you could.


Man...I can almost smell that jam from here.

Okay, got a question for you, Miss Jam Expert! I have been wanting to make jam for my diabetic boy, using xylitol instead of sugar, but having never really made jam before, except once or twice when I was a kid, I have no idea if it will really work that way....what's your opinion??


yup, it's about that time. we made a ton last year, and still have a few small jars left. there is nothing better than fresh bread, good butter, and strawberry freezer jam!


We picked strawberries for jam yesterday! 19 1/2 pounds, to be exact. I've only made jam the traditional way, so I'm quite excited to make freezer jam this time.


i am SO making jam.
i love this story.


i am SO making jam.
i love this story.

sk valentine

How fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

Lisa Clarke

Such a sweet memory! Thank you for the recipe link. I tend to make my jam in the bread machine, but I think I might like to try a method that will yield a bigger batch. I love the idea of having a freezer full of jam at the ready.


Curse my small freezer - I had to make mine the long winded way. But it still tastes good.


i love how tradition weaves its way through berries and jam!

we just finished our last jar of strawberry jam from last season... can't wait until the berries ripen here.


My grandma made strawberry freezer jam too. I remember going out to pick a few times with her. Hot, sweaty, boring work for me as a kid, but I look back fondly now. I'm envious that you take the time to do it now.

Mama Urchin

I love homemade jam. Store bought just never compares.

Jamie Welsh Watson

My girlfriend sent me this post. Wow, thank you! We are both off to our Farmer's Market tonight in San Carlos, CA and I am going to try this recipe. You put smiles on our faces this morning, and looks like a bunch of others' too! (-:


Thanks for posting the recipe. I've been wanting to try to make my own jam with strawberries and you've totally motivated me. It's the Farmer's Market night out here so I'll be buying some fresh berries!


Erin, I love this post and I just had to go and get a tissue. i grew up with my mom making jam too. I would always pick the wild berries we had in our yard. I still love the do it. I still make jam a lot, but I have never made freezer jam. I think I will have to try it! Thanks for the link, and the story!


Yum! It's so darn cold out here the strawberries aren't ready for picking yet. How ridiculous is that?


What a wonderful story!! What the heck is freezer jam, though?


My husband grew up with homemade strawberry freezer jam as well, and even after we were married his mom would bring an old margarine tub of it to us when she visited. We have been making all our own jam for a few years now, and I agree, it is so very easy. Last year we added raspberry for the first time, and maybe this year we will have enough raspberries to make it with our own berries.

Just (minutes ago) got a flat of strawberries for this season's first round of jam making! Yum!

Anyone know how to make freezer jam without buying the little packets of Sure-Jell? Can you buy pectin bulk?


Strawberry picking opens up this weekend (in Boston). Would you be willing to share the recipe? Sounds yum!

amy h

Good story! I wish we had a separate freezer now. Mine is full of baby food cubes.


Oh my gosh, Erin, I almost forgot to make freezer jam this year! My kids WILL remember me for strawberry freezer jam and they'll be sorely disappointed if I don't make it----thank you for sharing your stories AND reminding me!


Your girls are very lucky!


that jam would go so well with the fresh bread I baked today. :) such a sweet story, erin.


What a lovely post. Obviously, it struck a cord with many of your readers.


what a sweet post. I can smell it. One of these days I will jam!


lovely post as always!!! and such inspiration...strawberries are done where I am, but going to do peach jam next....questions....anything special about putting glass jars in the freezer?? I hate using plastic, but i guess like others I did not think you could put glass jars in the freezer....tips would be appreciated!!


Thanks for posting this- my grandparents always had freezer jam too, and I've been meaning to make some. This week!!


awesome jam story.
I wonder what MY kids will remember??


yum, I should start doing this...and then my (future) kids can learn it too, and their kids etc.

Now I'm off to make scones...yum


Your jam looks yummy! Only two more weeks before strawberries are ready here and I'll be making jam! If you jam tastes as good as it looks, I'm sure it will be a very fond memory of your kids'.


So delicious!


Oh, this looks wonderful! And tasty. I'm in love with both jam and strawberries. A match made in heaven. :)


My husband's great aunt made jam for us each year and we had it for a year after she died, but now we're all out. I'm so pleased to know that it's easy to make. YIPPEE!


i grew up on freezer jam too!

actually, i don't know if it was jam exactly. it was some type of strawberry syrup-y concoction stuff that was stored in the freezer but used for strawberry shortcake (with those sponge shortcakes and cool whip, of course - it was the 80s after all).


What wonderful memories... the jam looks delicious!


I love this so much, Erin. I grew up on pear and plum preserves myself.
I'm going to have to see if I can't get my hands on some now :-)


These are the memories I want to give to my children too. This is the year I want to get into pickling and jam-making, so a lovely post.

The boys and I went for our first strawberry picking of the season this week too. Good stuff.

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