My mom always made homemade jam growing up. I probably didn’t even taste store-bought jam until I was a teenager – we were spoiled! She most commonly made strawberry and raspberry freezer jam. Raspberry freezer jam still makes me weak in the knees!
For those of you who have not ventured into the world of jam making…there are two kinds. Cooked and freezer. Cooked jam involves, well, cooking…it also involves canning as the method of storage, which isn’t hard, I’ve been told. But come on, if there’s an easier way to do it, I’m there. Enter freezer jam. Less cooking involved and you can store the jam in whatever clean containers you have on hand – no sterilizing necessary. I also like the fresher taste of freezer jam better than cooked.
Making freezer jam is simple. Buy your fruit of choice, a box of pectin (powdered seems to work better than the gel verion), lots of sugar and you’re ready to go!
When you mash your berries, do it by hand. I use my handy-dandy pastry blender and it does an excellent job (better than my potato masher). You can use a food processor, but you have to be careful not to blend too much or your jam might not gel. That said, I once unwittingly pulverized the berries and my jam still gelled…but I think I was just lucky, so don’t risk it!
There is a no-sugar recipe, but as I you can see I didn’t use that one. Bring on the sugar!
I always just follow the instructions inside the pectin box – no secret family recipes. And the jam comes out great.
Although, make sure you actually READ the instructions. Remember the strawberry emergency I referenced in this week’s menu post? Yeah, I didn’t realize until my pectin was cooking on the stove that I did not have enough fruit, a result of mis-reading the instructions. DUH. I pulled the pectin off of the burner, divided it in half, made the first half of the jam while Nate ran to the store to get more berries. My pectin waiting in the wings started to gel – aaaahhhh!!!! I furiously chopped and mashed berries, got the pectin back on the heat and despite a somewhat strange texture, my jam still gelled – woo-hoo! See, I’ve made some serious blunders in my jam-making days, but it always comes out. If I can do it, you can too!
Once you’ve followed the instructions and your jam is ready, you simply put it into clean containers – you can use jars, plastic, whatever. Let jam sit on the counter for 24 hours, then pop in the freezer!
If you are looking to impress people, whip up some freezer jam. It’s really easy, and everyone will think you’re amazing for making your own jam. Plus, you’ll have the most delicious jam on the planet sitting in your freezer. Enjoy!