Updated: Jun 7
I’ve been staring at the same paragraph for two days. Changing one sentence here, a word there, and it still doesn’t make sense.
I have a BAD COLD. My head just isn’t working.
I decided to give you a past post about freezing foods while their flavor is at their peak. It’s the perfect time of year and the best way to enjoy that great flavor during the rest of the year.
Next week, if I can stop sneezing long enough and get my brain to start working again, I’ll finish writing part two of the freezer series. Enjoy this post and thanks for your patients.
Enjoy the flavor of fresh foods when they’re no longer in season—here’s how
Sometime in January, I dove into my freezer to see what there was that I could add to dinner. I grabbed a bag of corn that I’d cooked when it was at its peak the previous August. When I served it with a little salt and butter, I was astonished at how tender and how incredibly sweet it was. It didn’t compare to any of the commercial corn I’ve purchased, either frozen or canned—they had nothing in common. The flavor of my frozen fresh corn was spectacular.
I’ve known and written about the importance of preserving fresh herbs. That intense aroma signals what makes our food taste so good, and it is well worth the amount of time it takes (very little) to preserve those herbs at their height of freshness.
That mouthful of corn that surprised my tastebuds was an important lesson. One that has me tasting everything I eat with a new question: how can I preserve this flavor to enjoy all year long?
The first thing to do is consider what foods are currently in season. Those are the foods you want to preserve.
Strawberries are at their peak right now. I really like strawberry preserve but I don’t like it when it is very sweet so preserving it myself allows me to determine the amount of sugar I put in. It also enables me to add other fruits, flavors, or spices that I may like.
I have never been a big fan of canning. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great way to preserve food, but it just isn’t my favorite way to do it. Instead, I like freezing foods so I look for easy ways to do that.
Making freezer jams is easy and works really well. One of the advantages is that you can make small quantities.
Freezer jams can be made with fruits that are fresh or pre-frozen. The advantage is that if you do not have time to make the jam when the fruit is at its peak, you can freeze your fruits in bulk and process them later.
Freezer Strawberry Jam
Prep time: 10 minutes;
Total time: 40 minutes
Quantity: about 3 containers
3 pints fresh strawberries (7 cups of whole strawberries or 5 ¼ cups of sliced strawberries).
1 ½ cups to 2 cups sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Optional: lemon zest from 1 lemon
Clean, core, and chop your strawberries. They do not need to be small as they will break up as they cook. If the strawberries are still large, you can break them up with either a potato masher or a fork.
Place the cut-up strawberries in a pot with 1 ½ cups sugar.
Add the lemon juice.
Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to medium, and continue to cook until the jam starts to thicken. Make sure to stir the mixture so the fruit does not stick to the bottom and burn. Cook about 10 to 15 minutes.
If you think the jam needs more sugar, add another ½ cup of sugar. Keep in mind that when the jam thickens and cools it will taste sweeter.
Continue to cook the jam at a slow boil, letting the moisture evaporate so the jam will thicken. I find that it needs to keep cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Let the jam cool.
When the jam is cold, spoon it into containers: glass, plastic, or freezer bags. Make certain they are very clean, just out of the dishwasher or rinsed in very hot water.
Fill your containers leaving about ½ inch of room at the top for them to expand in the freezer.
If you use freezer bags, remove as much of the air as possible, also leaving ½ inch from the top.
Label everything with what it contains and the date and freeze.
The jam will last up to a year frozen, or 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
This method works perfectly for other fruits, such as apricots, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, rhubarb, melon, peaches, plums, apples, and pears.
As the season progresses, I will keep experimenting with the best ways to process the fruits and vegetables that are at their peak and let you know what works best.
My goal is to find ways of preserving all the fresh foods and flavors that are abundant during the growing season so we can continue to enjoy them during those months when they are no longer available.
Le Kitchen Cookbook
Everything you need to know to be a good cook.
by Adeline M. Olmer
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