In the spring, a young woman’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of … fruit. Fresh, sweet fruit that seems to be overwhelming the farmer’s markets. And, since lately I’ve been eating more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than any respectable foodie would ever admit too ( I blame too many hours at the office) my thoughts also turned to jam, more specifically, strawberry freezer jam.Freezer jam is quick, easy and gives you an amazing fresh fruit flavor. The advantage over standard jam or jelly? Freezer jam is never cooked so you retain the fruit’s sweet freshness. The disadvantage? I can’t think of a single one.
Freezer jam, as it’s name implies, is stored in the freezer so make sure the plastic containers you are using can be frozen. Some plastics — like the popular disposal variety — will break, crack or chip when frozen. Ball makes a great plastic freezer jar. I haven’t tried these Klip-It containers — which are available at kitchen and storage container shops — but they also indicate that they are freezer appropriate.
Although you won’t be hot packing or processing the jam you will still need to sterilize your containers. I simply wash them in the dishwasher (upper rack for plastic) and leave them in the hot, closed dishwasher until I’m ready to fill them with jam.
This is my mother’s recipe for strawberry freezer jam or preserves as she would say. I love it slathered on thick slices of her homemade bread or on pancakes instead of syrup.
Freezer Fruit Preserves
1 pint strawberries or berries
2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons fruit pectin
6 Tablespoons water
3 – 1/2 pint containers appropriate for freezing
Wash berries, if using strawberries hull and slice in half. Place berries in a nonreactive bowl and coarsely mash them — I like to use an old fashioned potato masher for this job. Leave some berries whole or in large chunks. You should have 1 1/2 cups of mashed fruit from 1 pint of berries.
Add all the sugar to the berries and stir until it is absorbed, the consistency should be thick and soupy. Set berries aside for 10 to 15 minutes allowing the sugar to be dissolved and absorbed. After 15 minutes the mixture should not appear or taste granular.
Place small saucepan over high heat, add pectin and water. Stir until pectin is dissolved. Stirring nonstop, bring mixture to a rolling boil. Let boil hard for 1 minute. Remove pectin from heat and pour into berry mixture. Stir vigorously for 3 minutes to fully incorporate pectin into fruit.
Using a sterilized ladle, transfer the fruit mixture to 1/2 pint containers leaving 1/2 inch at the top of each container. Place lids on containers and seal. The preserves will expand when frozen so do not fill them to the top.
Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours*, then freeze for at least 24 hours before using.
*Ball recommends placing the jam in the refrigerator for the first 24 hours.
Freezer Jam Tips:
Jam will keep in the freezer for 1 year. It will keep 4-6 weeks in the refrigerator.
Run the dishwasher and sterilize your containers first. Don’t start the dishwasher when you start the jam; the jam will be done before your dishwasher cycle is complete.
Pectin can be found in hardware stores and grocery stores in their canning sections. Like all canning supplies its easier to find in the spring and summer. It comes in either a small, square box (similar to a pudding box) or in small pouches.