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Chef Andy: It’s strawberry season – Get your jam on

By Andy Mueller

Chef Andy Mueller

Some of my fondest memories as a child were spent picking wild strawberries on my cousin’s farm in Waldo, Wisconsin.

A half dozen adults and more than a dozen kids would arm themselves with baskets and hit the fields.

We would have friendly competitions to see who could fill their baskets the fastest, but I would never win.

I always wanted to, but for every two or three berries I’d put in the basket, I would eat one or two.

My basket was never full, but my belly was, and it made me happier than a victory.

With strawberry season upon us, it’s time to take advantage of all the roadside stands representing different farms in the area, as well as the farmer’s markets throughout the region.

From strawberry pie and jam to fruit salads, or even just a big bowl of perfectly ripe strawberries for people to nosh on at a cookout.

I have to give the nod to this recipe for refrigerator strawberry jam.

Refrigerator jam is different because it is not preserved, so it only lasts for two weeks in the refrigerator, but let’s face it, any type of homemade strawberry jam has no chance of spending even a week in the fridge, much less two.

I don’t just put it on toast or a buttery biscuit (pictured), I heat it up a bit and put it on French toast and pancakes instead of maple syrup – it’s a game changer.

This recipe couldn’t be easier as it requires only three ingredients: strawberries, sugar and lemon juice.

The ingredients are simmered for about 20 minutes to make sure the liquid reduces to a jammy consistency.

Every time I hear the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles, I think of those days on the Murphy Farm, and it brings a smile to my face, a face that used to be stained crimson more often than not this time of year, long ago.

Try this recipe and take advantage of one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts.


Refrigerator Strawberry Jam
Add to a saucepan over medium heat:

• 1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, stems removed, quartered
• 3/4 cup sugar
• Juice of 1 small lemon

Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and is noticeably thicker.

It will continue to thicken as it cools, so don’t reduce it all the way to a jam consistency on the stove.

Let cool to room temp, transfer to glass jars with lids and place in the fridge to cool completely. This recipe does freeze well.

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