Strawberry Fields

Every summer starting in mid June, tiny sweet strawberries begin to arrive at the farmers markets. While buying hand picked straweberries is easier, I love to pick my own. There are many strawberry farms in Ontario, I usually go to one of the following:

Andrews' Scenic Acres - Milton, ON
Downey's Farm - Brampton, ON
Orchalaw Farms -Brampton, ON

But if you want a complete list of farms for all fruit or vegetables in season you can always check out

After many years of strawberry picking I've come up with some tips on a successful strawberry picking outing:

- Wear a hat!
- Bring a bottle of water (it is important to re-hydrate and useful for washing your fruit if you want to sample the fruit while picking)
- Do not wear white (I have lost far to many white shirts while strawberry picking)
- Bring family and friends!

Now once you have picked baskets of strawberries, what now? While I love to make things from scratch one of the few things I cannot bring myself to do is canning. The idea of going out and purchasing a canning rack, jar lifter and magnetic lid lifter does not appeal to me, besides where would I put this in my tiny kitchen?

But luckily for those of us who don't have a ton of time on our hand and aren't quite ready to becoming expert canners but do want homemade jam, there is something called freezer jam pectin. It is easy and you don't need any fancy canning equipment!

Basic Freezer Strawberry Jam

4 cups of crushed strawberries
1 - 45 gram pouch of Freezer Jam (Bernardin or another brand)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1. Combine crushed strawberries with suggar and pectin and stir until well combined
2. Ladle into clean and dry mason jars. Make sure you leave about 1 inch at the top as it will expand when you freeze it!
3. Let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes and then put it in the freezer or refridgerator. It will keep in your fridge for 2 months or the freezer for 1 year.

Now, I like to experiment with my jam so I made 3 variations:

Strawberry Maple Syrup Jam - reduce sugar aby 1/2 cup, cook 1/2 cup of maple syrup on stove until it reduces to a thicker syrup - about 1/4 cup and mix with rest of ingredients.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam - take 2 rhubarb stalks, cut into small chunks (same size as crushed strawberries); cook rhubarb in a sugar water solution 1/2 cup sugar - 2 cups of water, for 2-3 minutes, until softened; drain and let cool and add to crushed strawberries; reduce strawberries in batch to 3 1/2 cups

Strawberry Raspberry Jam - wash and gently mash 1 cup of raspberries; reduce strawberries in batch to 3 cups.

Bon Appétit