Sweet and natural perfection.
What am I talking about? Fresh homemade strawberry jam, made the day after the berries were picked. Is there anything better? Mmmmmmmm..........
All you need are strawberries, sugar, pectin, jars, lids, and ... the things you screw onto the top of the jar that keeps the lid on. Bands? Anyway...the recipe for the jam is in the pectin box, so I won't write that here, but here are some tips from my experience:
Fresh picked-when-they're-ripe strawberries are the best, but remember that you really do need to make the jam immediately. (Or the pie, or the ice cream topping--whatever goodness you have in mind.) The strawberries you usually see at the grocery store were picked green and put out when they are nearly ripe--they last longer than strawberries that are allowed to ripen on the plant. (You can put whole, unwashed berries in the refrigerator, and they last longer.) The strawberries we jammed the first day were a lot happier with life than those that had to wait until the second day.
Don't buy three flats of strawberries all at once, as amazing as that may sound at the time. That was too much jamming to do so quickly, before the fully ripe and wonderful berries turned into, well, you know--less than wonderful berries. (Although I admit I will not be complaining as I'm eating the jam all year long...)
The recipe in the pectin box probably says you have to process the jam, that is, boil it in a canner for a while. But you don't. Follow the directions up until the jars are full and the lids are screwed on, then just flip the jars upside down, let them sit for five minutes, them flip them back over. You should soon hear little pops that let you know the jars sealed. (You can check to make sure the button on the lid is down if you don't hear all the pops.) Any that for some reason didn't seal can just go in your refrigerator, but we didn't have that problem. If you're worried, go ahead and follow the directions in the box; that will of course work, too. But my mother-in-law has never had a problem with this method. (This is my first jam-making experience, but she's done it a lot.)