When my grandmother got wind of our family strawberry picking adventure, she dug up her jam recipe and mailed it to us. My grandmother's jam is not just any jam. For starters, she freezes it (which means less hassle and a quicker cooking time) but also...it is gorgeous. Most importantly, though, are the memories attached to the taste of this jam. Every summer of my childhood we all trooped out to my grandparent's lake cabin with no agenda any bigger than fishing and swimming in the lake. We always wore ourselves out completely without touching anything that included a battery carriage. And, we ate my grandma's good food. How she had enough food to feed me and my siblings and all of our cousins is beyond me.
Her jam was always a staple. It tastes to me like the feeling of waking up with all the energy and enthusiasm of childhood, looking forward to getting back into my bathing suit and scouring the shore for more rocks or beating my cousin to the inner tube. It tastes like the sound of my mom laughing so hard she let out a snort or the quiet, breathy whisper she used when exchanging juicy gossip with my aunt.
When the recipe arrived, I knew that I wanted jam-making to be a family event and I casually mentioned it over dinner one night. My oldest got very excited and kept asking to make jam, MAKE JAM. So, finally we did. He was adorable and is truly a great cooking companion...crushing the strawberries as if his life depended on it and narrating his every move to me the whole time. Needless to say, sharing this with my own child was really special. The passing on of food traditions is one of those things that feels very grounding to me. I feel I'm truly passing on all the beautiful and complicated moments that make up a family history...and sealing them in a jar.
So, here is it grandma renie's freezer jam: (quick note, grandma swears by Certo but next I'm going to search out an alternative pectin just for refining the taste a little. I know, I know, I can't help it.).
-5 cups crushed strawberries
-6 cups sugar
-1 teaspoon butter
-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Bring to a boil and cook for 7 minutes. Keep stirring.
Add envelope of Certo and boil for one more minute.
Then: Grandma's tip--take it off the heat and let it set for a while so you can stir it and avoid the fruit all falling to the bottom. Fill your jars and when they are completely cool, set them in the freezer.
4 months ago