Strawberry Freezer Jelly
jehanna helped by answering a lot of my questions. She's got tons more experience than I do making jellies, since the only one I've ever made before was Hillbilly Housewife's Grape Jelly, which is a really easy recipe, but has a lot of sugar, most jelly recipes call for a ton of sugar with the pectin.
So my criteria was a small batch, ingredients I could get year round inexpensively, not so much sugar, and nicely gelled. After talking to jehanna, I realized a freezer jam, since it doesn't need to be shelf stable, also doesn't need pectin as the gelling agent. So I used Knox gelatin. Agar would work as well if you are a vegan, but I couldn't find my agar, and I always have gelatin on hand because I'd rather my children have fruit juice than Jell-O. Gelatin also has the advantage it COSTS a lot less than pectin.
You will need:
a stick blender*
a small bowl
an empty jar. I used an empty spaghetti sauce jar**
Spoon to stir with. I used one of my wooden spoons.
1 16oz bag of frozen strawberries (yep. Frozen, always in season, not very expensive. I used the store brand)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water
2 envelopes of gelatin. One if you like a soft set.
Put the strawberries in the pan, and sprinkle the sugar over them, then leave it alone while the strawberries thaw. I just did something else for a couple hours.
After the strawberries are thawed, blend them to mush with the stick blender, and put them on medium heat on your stove top. Dissolve packets of gelatin in cold water.
Bring the strawberries up to a nice simmer, stirring constantly so they don't burn. When they are bubbly, turn off the heat, and stir in the water/gelatin mix. If you want to hit it again with your stick blender to make sure it's well blended, you can. Pour mixture into empty jar and cap. Let it set until room temperature then chill. After a few hours, it's set. Give it a good stir, and serve. Keep refrigerated.
Because this is low sugar, it's not as sweet as commercial jellies, it's a bit tart, and tastes like strawberries, more a fruit spread than jelly as you are used to from the supermarket. I had Mike and E try it, and they both prefer it to store bought, and love the idea of a jelly that's so easy that it's just not going to be an issue for me to make it regularly. Since it's gelatin set, the same technique should work for a lot of fruits or berries.
*Which is one of those handheld blender things, you don't *really* need one, but I like them. You could blend your strawberries in a regular blender or mush them with a spoon.
**I do use convenience foods sometimes, and a good spaghetti sauce makes a quick meal on nights E doesn't want what the rest of us are having which happens about once a week. Spaghetti sauce over ramen noodles with pepperoni chopped up in it and a bit of cheese makes her happy when we are having prawns or something.