No, you're not going crazy, it's not December! It's springtime in the Central California Valley, when our local farm stands are open again and getting fresh-picked produce is just minutes away! Picked-for-shipping fruits and vegetables just can't compare to the taste of getting the produce right out of the farmers' fields!
The first crops that begin to show up around here are strawberries and asparagus. I picked up both last weekend. The asparagus was part of our Easter dinner.
The strawberries became part of my family's favorite spring dessert, strawberry shortcake (this time served over cream cheese pound cake).
I had three baskets of berries left and I needed to do something with them before they spoiled on me (I think it's a sin for farm-fresh produce to go to waste!) After working all day I was either tired or lazy (I prefer to think I was tired!) so wasn't real thrilled about getting out my canning jars and related paraphernalia to make jam. I then turned to another kind of jam making; freezer jam. It is less work. There is no need to sterilize jars and lids, no standing over a hot stove and stirring, no waiting to see if the jars sealed properly. With freezer jam you literally chop, add sugar, stir, add a pectin/water mixture, stir some more and put into containers. It is so easy! For people who are intimidated of the jam or jelly making process this is a quick and easy indoctrination into making your own preserves.
It makes for a softer jam than cooked jam. We like this jam with ebelskivers, waffles, pancakes. This is the jam I serve with my scones for my Christmas tea.
The complete recipe can be found in a package of Sure-Jell, which is a fruit pectin product or here.
To start, you crush the strawberries. You can do this in a food processor, pulsing until you get a fine chop. You don't want a puree, you want to see bits of fruit. If you don't have a food processor you can slice the berries and, using a potato masher, mash the fruit to the desired consistency.
Put 2 cups of the crushed strawberries into a large bowl and combine with four cups sugar. Mix well, and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, mix the Sure-Jell with 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir continuously for one minute. Remove from heat and add to the strawberry-sugar mixture. Stir three to four minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy.
Pour into prepared containers, leaving about 1/2-inch space at top for expansion during freezing; cover.
Let stand 24 hours until set. Store in freezer for up to one year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.
It doesn't get much easier than this and it's so very delicious!