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You - yes you, can make strawberry jam!

My Nana was, well...not much of a cook. From the time I was 13, until I was 20, our family lived in Latin America. Once a year, we would make the 3000+ mile journey to Nana's house in Hamilton, Montana. (That trip is another story). Mama did most of the cooking those few weeks we were visiting, but Nana did know her way around baking bread and making jam. At the end of every meal, breakfast or dinner, she would cut up loaf after loaf of lovely homemade bread and we would slather it with freezer jam--strawberry, raspberry, apricot and peach. There is just nothing in the world like the fresh fruit flavor of freezer jam. When i Moved to Montana, I promised myself I would learn to make it. Over the years I have (through much trial and error) figured out how to come up with lovely jars of sweet summer fruit.

This is not so much a recipe as my pointers and helpful hints.

First off, buy Sure-Jell pectin in the box. You can try other stuff, but in the end, you will find this is what will give you the best result. READ THE DIRECTIONS! FIRST! Do not skimp on fruit or sugar. You are just asking for it to not come out right.

I like to make a double recipe, just because, if you are going to make a mess, be serious about it. 2 lbs of fresh strawberries will make 2 batches of jam. Hull the berries and cut into small pieces. Mash a little or a lot...your choice.

Dump 2 cups of berries into a large bowl. Here is my first secret...add the juice from half a lime to each batch of mashed berries. This really helps set the jam. (Keep in mind that freezer jam is is not thick like cooked store-bought jam).

Add ALL the sugar the recipe calls for. It looks grossly sweet...but this is jam, not dinner. Here is my second need to let sit for at least 3 hours, stirring it every 15 minutes or so. It takes a long time for the sugar to incorporate.

Every time you stir it, you will see that the sugar has settled and you have to bring it up from the bottom. At first the mixture is very pink. But as you stir and get the sugar to dissolve, it becomes more of a strawberry color.

Have your jam jars washed and ready to go. When the sugar is "mostly" dissolved, follow the directions for boiling the pectin. Use a timer - don't try to "guesstimate". Pour the boiled mixture into the berries and again, use a timer to stir 3 minutes.

Pour immediately into your jars. You will see that the bits of strawberry are all through the jam - not just sitting on top. Put clean lids on your jars and let it sit on the counter for a day. Freeze and enjoy!

Congratulations! You made jam!

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