This post is part of the Canadian Food Experience Project which began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.
No preserve, no matter how innovative or delicious, can ever take the place of simple strawberry freezer jam in my heart. I love how you get the taste of the fresh strawberries along side the toothache inducing sweetness from the 7 cups of sugar that goes into one batch. It seems to glow from within the jar in its shiny red, sugary perfection. It is the only jam I will ever eat in a peanut butter and jam sandwich. It is the best jam on a slice of homemade bread because it does not compete with the bread. It compliments the bread with the simple flavours of fresh strawberries that were picked months ago, and sometimes years ago, held in a kind of stasis by the freezer and an abundance of sugar.
For as long as I can remember I would go strawberry picking in the summer with my dad. He would put me to work and we wouldn’t leave the field until he felt we had enough strawberries. We would haul them home and I would eat my weight in fresh strawberries while helping my mom make several batches of freezer jam. We would spend several hours in a type of assembly line. My dad would hull the strawberries, I would mash them and mix in the sugar. We always followed the recipe exactly. This is one of the few times where I still actually follow a recipe when I make the jam in my own house. Although it wasn’t required according to the recipe, my mom would sterilize the jars in the oven in a roasting pan. We would make upwards of 2 dozen jars of jam in some years so that it would last me through the whole year.
When I was a kid, I would go through about a jar of jam a week on either peanut butter and jam sandwiches, or because I had a huge repertoire of food I liked, peanut butter and jam on toast. Even when we moved into a house that had a huge plum tree in the front yard and my mom made plum jam from the buckets of plums from that tree, I never strayed from my devotion to strawberry jam. I loved the smell of the plum jam but my love for my jam was monogamous.
I now experiment with all kinds of different jams since I am completely addicted to canning but every once in a while, I will make a batch of this strawberry jam. I may have grown up and so has my palate, but now and then nothing will beat a peanut butter sandwich with this bright and sugary strawberry jam.
I’m not including a recipe with this post because I follow the freezer jam recipe included in the box with the pectin. I never stray from it despite the high volume of sugar.