This past Saturday, we canned 4 batches of strawberry jam, and 2 batches of triple berry jam, which equated to around 48 half-pints of canned jam. We play for quantity when it comes to canning, with twelve hour canning marathons being the norm. No matter how many times we say that we won’t go overboard “next time,” we always do.
So since we were already committed to the jam trenches for the next 12 hours, we decided to do 2 batches of strawberry freezer jam also–just for grins. Now I freeze a lot of things, but I have never once made freezer jam. I have no idea why…I guess sometimes I’m just a little late to the party.
You know what I discovered? Making freezer jam is super easy! Who knew?! While I still prefer the taste of cooked jam, for making a small amounts in a hurry, freezer jam is the way to go.
I’ll post our cooked jam canning methods at a later date–likely after canning cherries, and cherry jam. If you are nervous about canning, then I hope to provide enough information to take a little of the anxiety out of the process.
Until then, why not give freezer jam a try? You won’t believe how simple the process is for this no-cook jam.
First, you’ll need something to put the jam in. We bought these plastic freezer jam jars because they were cute. You can use any clean plastic container with a tight fitting lid.
Adding pectin to the sugar in jam helps the jam to “set” quickly when cooked. Freezer jam requires the use instant pectin for the jam to firm up without cooking. Of course, sugar is also necessary.
Naturally, you’ll need a whole mess o’ strawberries. In season fruit picked at the peak of ripeness makes for the best tasting jam. If you able to grow or pick your own fruit, buy the best quality berries from a local farmer’s market–that’s what we did.
Rinse the strawberries well to remove any dirt, then cut the leafy green tops (called the hull) off. To streamline the process, I fill up a clean sink with cold water, then dump all of the berries in the water so that they soak off any dirt while I am hulling them. Farm strawberries are significantly smaller than the big-agriculture grown strawberries usually found in the grocery store. They also have a more intense flavor. With that in mind, 1 quart of farm strawberries should equate to about 1 1/2 cups of crushed berries.
Once the strawberries have been cleaned and hulled, you can crush them one of two ways: in a large bowl with a potato masher, or by lightly pulsing in a food processor. I prefer the food processor method because I like bigger chunks of berries in the jam, and the berries turn out less watery than with the potato masher method. Too much liquid will keep the jam from properly setting up.
Place the berries in a food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times, until berries are chopped, but not pureed. Continue this process until you have 4 cups of chopped berries. Pour the chopped/crushed berries into a large bowl, and set them aside. If by the time you are done, the berries are floating in a sea of juice, drain some of the juice.
Measure the sugar and instant pectin into a small bowl. Stir the instant pectin into the sugar with a fork until well blended.
Pour the sugar mixture onto the crushed strawberries.
Stir the sugar mixture into the strawberries until well blended. Continue to stir the berry mixture for a full 3 minutes.
Ladle the jam into plastic jars, leaving between 1/2 to 3/4 inch head space to allow the jam to expand during freezing. A handy-dandy canning funnel helps to keep the jam from slopping all over the sides of the jar. Cap the jars, and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while the jam thickens.
Please note that Freezer Jam will have a softer set than cooked-jam.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Easy Strawberry Freezer Jam
(Recipe from the Bar Freezer Jars package label)
Yields 5 (8 oz.) Half Pint Jars
Prep Time: 40 minutes, Cook Time: 0 minutes, Total Time: 40 minutes
4 C. crushed strawberries
1 ½ C. granulated sugar
5 Tbs. Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin
In a small bowl, stir together sugar and Instant Pectin with a fork until well combined; set aside.
Rinse the strawberries well, and remove the leafy green hulls. Crush the strawberries in a large bowl with a potato masher, or pulse 5-6 times in the bowl of a food processor until you can measure 4 cups of crushed fruit. Place the crushed strawberries in a large bowl and pour the sugar mixture over top.
Stir the sugar mixture until blended into the strawberries, then continue to stir for 3 minutes.
Ladle the jam into clean freezer jars, leaving ¾ inch head space for jam expansion during the freezing process. Secure the lids onto the jars, and let jam stand for 30 minutes at room temperature, or until thickened. Please note that Freezer Jam will have a softer set than traditional cooked-jam.
Serve immediately, refrigerate for up to three weeks, or freeze for up to 3 months.
More freezer jam recipes can be found by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.