How to Make No-Cook Freezer Jam – The Pioneer Woman
Growing up on a farm, with parents who always tended a large garden, I was exposed to a fair amount of fresh produce preservation. Under the stairs in our basement was a proof of the many hours Mom spent canning in the kitchen.
Mom’s reward included jars of beans, peaches, pears, cherries, apple sauce, spiced apple rings, apples for cakes, pickled beets, cucumber pickles of many different types, watermelon pickles, tomatoes, tomato sauce, sweet seasoning, a variety of sauces, sauerkraut, various fruit jams and jellies, plus my great-grandmother’s recipe for orange-sliced rhubarb jam. (Oops!) Oh, I can taste that pretty jam just thinking about it!
As if that wasn’t enough, in the big freezer, we had bags of frozen sweet corn kernels and raspberries, still sweet from last summer’s sun.
Preserving that amount of produce each summer took quite some time. But when winter came, it was a pleasure to be able to run to the basement for a jar and open the lid. That product wasn’t ripped fresh from the garden, but it was 100 times better than anything we could have bought in a can or jar at the store.
While I wish I had the time and energy to preserve the same goodness I remember from the farm, I just don’t. Instead, I focus on one or two canning projects each summer, and I make a few batches of freezer jam. I can’t resist preserving some of that beautiful summer fruit.
In this post, I’m here to talk about uncooked freezer jam. If you’ve never made freezer jam before, I hope you’ll be convinced to try it. It’s too easy. And imagine how wonderful a fresh berry jam would taste in the dead of winter, spread on toast or swirled in yogurt! My family especially likes to add a tablespoon of jam to a steaming hot waffle, along with some freshly whipped and sweetened cream.
I was very happy with our strawberry garden this year. This was the third season since we added strawberry plants to our garden, but only the first year we had any kind of sizable harvest. For the first time at I-can’t-remember-how-long, I didn’t feel the need to visit a local u-pick for fresh strawberries. We had enough sweet red berries from our own garden. I was dizzy!
Freezer jam is so easy to make that I can literally deliver the recipe to our daughters to make on their own. I’m usually in the kitchen, working alongside them, but they don’t really need me there.
I’m going to share how to make two of my family’s favorite freezing jams: Strawberry Freezing Jam and Red Raspberry Freezing Jam. (Another one we can’t resist making every summer is raspberry and blackberry freezer jam.)
To start the strawberry recipe, fresh berries are crushed in a large bowl. I like to use a potato crusher or a rigid pastry blender, crushing the berries until they are in small pieces. Our daughters often take turns, as none of them want to miss out on the fun. Then sugar is added to the fruit and left to stand for 10 minutes.
Then a box of pectin is added to some water and heated quickly on the stove. The pectin mixture is added to the strawberries and the thickening of the jam begins.
Jam is poured into jars. The project is less complicated if you have a canning funnel to place over the edges of the jar, but this equipment is definitely not a necessity. See that metal funnel in the photo above? That was once my grandmother’s. I wonder how many jars of jam he made in his life.
Freezer jam generally has a looser consistency than jam made in the traditional way. With freezer jam, the fruit is not cooked, which gives it a brighter and fresher color and flavor of summer. Traditional jams are made by cooking the fruit, placing the jam in hot jars, and then boiling the jars in a large pot of hot water, a much longer process that heats the kitchen very quickly.
This easy-to-make freezer version also requires a different storage medium, hence the name “freezer jam.” It is not stable like traditional jam, so it cannot be stored in the pantry. It should be refrigerated (up to 3 weeks) or frozen (up to 1 year).
some people don’t like to store their freezer jam in traditional glass canning jars, for fear that the glass will break in the freezer. But I’ve never had any problems with that, and I really prefer glass over plastic. If you prefer to use plastic, there are some great options, like the one shown above with raspberry freezer jam. Just look for these freezer-safe plastic containers in the canning supplies section of your own store.
If you want to make freezer jam with fruits other than the recipes I’ve listed here for strawberry, raspberry, and raspberry blackberry, be sure to check the instructions inside the pectin boxes. With each different fruit, the preparation and amounts may vary, as well as the amount of sugar.
And here are some helpful tips to make sure your freezer jam goes perfectly!
Useful tips for a great freezer jam:
- Always wash the jars thoroughly with hot water and soap before using them. Then dry them.
- Use perfectly ripe firm fruit for the best flavor and fruit set. The lower fruit will produce lower jam.
- Measure the ingredients exactly. Altering recipes or ingredients could cause jam to not set properly.
- Yes, these recipes require a lot of sugar, but they do not alter the amount. If you want to use less sugar, look for SURE-JELL to use in recipes with less or no sugar in the pink box.
- The finished product won’t be as firm as a traditionally processed jam, so don’t be alarmed. It adopts the spreadable consistency of this easy-to-make jam.
- Because this jam is not cooked, it should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. It will be good for up to three weeks in the refrigerator, so store your jam in smaller containers that will sell out faster; I prefer to use 1 pint or 1/2 pint jars. Keep one jar in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer for later. When you are ready to use the frozen jam, simply place it in the refrigerator to thaw.