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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Note: I now use Pomona’s Universal Pectin, click here for reasons why and the recipe for freezer jam using Pomona’s. Also, click here for a Freezer Jam ingredients buying guide for both Sure-Jell and Pomona’s.

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!

Click here for a follow-up post on how many strawberries and raspberries to buy to make jam.


  1. 1

    We used to make blackberry freezer jam when I was kid. Blackberries grew wild by us. It was so nice. I miss those days! I will have to buy berries this summer and make this!

  2. 2

    I love making homemade jam. I don’t have a large freezer so I make quite a bit of the cooked stuff as well; for me, I’ve found that some fruits do better with cooking (like peaches and apricots) but I love raspberries for freezer jam. Just remember to buy the right kind of pectin made just for freezer jam.

  3. 3
    Jane Maynard

    I’m always so grateful for all of your comments…I learn so much from you! thanks for the tips and comments!

    foxyj…the pectin I’ve bought was always for freezer OR cooked, so I’m glad you mentioned that so I pay attention from now on, to make sure the pectin I get can be used for freezer.

    seriously, raspberry freezer jam is the BEST. I wish raspberries weren’t so hard to come by out here in california!

  4. I was spoiled as a child, too, because my Grandma made homemade jam and jellies of every kind when I was growing up. She always liked to use up all the bits of leftover fruit, so sometimes she had some combinations that were a little interesting, like Pineapple Peach Apricot, or my favorite, Strawberry Rhubarb. When all of her grandkids were in college, she would let us each take 4 jars of jam back to school with us. Man, did that open up a catfight!

    I just started learning how to make jam, and it’s really brought me closer to my Grandma. Thanks for the post!

  5. 5
    Jane Maynard

    that’s so sweet, rita…my grandma makes jam too…in fact, when my sister took a 12 hour train ride to visit me, she made her carry two big containers of jam for me. my sister hated it, but I was SO HAPPY. I love it when foods remind you of certain people…makes them that much more enjoyable.

  6. 6

    I just made jam about 2 months ago, and actually stored it in the same containers as you! We just finished the last batch, so your post has inspired me to get to the store to make more! And I am like you – BRING ON THE SUGAR!!

  7. oh… looks amazing! i’m sooo trying out freezer jam this year. thanks 🙂

  8. 8

    Oh, I’m SOOO happy you posted this, I was just talking to a lady in our Henry’s farmers market about making jam, and I haven’t ventured it, but she swore that homemade is the best and super easy, so this post couldn’t have come at a better time, especially because the raspberries/blueberries/blackberries and strawberries were all on sale($.88 per container!!!),so I stocked up, and already washed everything and divided it up for freezer storage, so now I need to go buy some pectin! Thanks again!

  9. This is the best jam! I can’t eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with out it!

  10. 10
    Kim M

    I just made strawberry jam this year–and we’ve almost finished it off already!!! There is a type of pectin that is specifically for freezer jam, and it calls for less sugar (and you don’t have to cook it, unless I’m totally forgetting that part, but it really was only a few weeks ago). The jam has been plenty sweet enough and makes me feel healthier eating it.

    And Kelsey, I just got so jealous about the Henry’s fruit prices–that is one of the places I’ve missed the most since moving from San Diego–you just can’t beat their prices.

  11. I made freezer jam for the first time 2 weeks ago…I’m amazed at how FRESH it tastes! I just feel a tad guilty knowing I dumped 4 cups of sugar into the mixture to make it! Nothing compares though! I made Strawberry and then when I didn’t have enough for a full 2nd batch of strawberry, I made strawberry-blueberry…with the “less sugar” version of pectin…it just wasn’t the same!

  12. I love making freezer jam! I bought 40 baskets of strawberries for $10 at Haymarket years ago and made batch after batch of freezer jam!

  13. 13

    This is a great alternative to cooking jam. Thanks for sharing!

  14. 14

    Funny…that’s what I’ve been doing this week. I bought the same containers too. Somehow I always lose the containers through the year. A big YES to the boil-for-a-minute pectin over the gel. Much better. My kids would rather die than eat store jam. Very spoiled. We picked about 30 pounds of berries, which is a feat considering all the RAIN we’ve had!

  15. 15

    Oh, I make half the of berries into jam and then freeze the other half for smoothies. Did you remind people to make sure when they take the metal trays out of the freezer to use hot pads or something? One of my kids didn’t believe me and used his bare hands to get the trays from our big freezer…BURNED! Clearly Mom is ALWAYS right!

  16. 16

    Hey Jane! We picked our own berries again this year and wound up making 10 batches (yes, 10!!) of cooked strawberry jam! My kids LOVE the homemade stuff vs. store bought, and all my friends and family request a jar come June. I’ve never tried the freezer jam, but maybe next year I will..considering it’s a bit less involved than what I just endured. It’s all worth it!

  17. 17

    ditto to your praises of freezer jam, jane.

  18. 18
    Phyllis Wallin

    The instructions inside the pectin box is the ‘secret family recipe’……

  19. 19

    oh jane, i got so nostalgic for your mom’s jam. remember that ridiculous time we went to go pick raspberries and the guy had closed for the season but gave them to us anyway?!?
    good times!

  20. 20
    Jane Maynard

    I do remember, stacy…and I knew that you would comment on this post!!!! 🙂

  21. 21
    Elizabeth Fager

    Nice to know about not food processing strawberries for freezer jam too much, but I got the info. too late. I just made 40 pints and it didn’t gel, is there anything I can do to salvage it, I don’t want to cook it because it takes away the fresh taste.

  22. 22
    Jane Maynard

    oh elizabeth – what a bummer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m not sure if there’s any way to salvage it…I’ll email my friend now who is a pastry chef and jam-maker extraordinaire…will let you know what I find out!

  23. 23
    Elizabeth Fager

    Thanks, I am going to take it out of the jars and add more liquid pectin to it, it can’t be any worse than it is now. It does however, make a wonderful sauce for icecream, waffles etc.

  24. 24
    Jane Maynard

    that’s right, you MEANT to make 40 pints of strawberry syrup – yum! 🙂 I’ll post a comment as soon as I hear from my friend…but let me know if adding pectin works, too.

  25. 25

    Hi all,

    I’m new to this blog, But I love all the tips and enthusiasm. It’s so inspiring. I may have an answer, or at least a possible solution to the not quite jelled jam. I also don’t care for the taste of cooked strawberries, however I do “cooked” jarred jam every year without pectin. Cooking your jam further will thicken it not so much by furthering the reaction of the pectin (in fact pectin can begin to break down,) but rather by evaporation. If you spread your jam out in large baking dishes and leave it in the oven at 150 – 175 degrees, overnight (about 10 hours)you can achieve the same evaporation and jelling without the cooked taste.

    Also, If you want to do a cooked version, You can macerate the berries overnight, then drain them and just cook the juice. When it’s jelled, add the strawberries back in, and proceed with canning. This is a good way to get preserves, which is jam with whole fruit.

    Hope that helps. Happy jamming!


  26. 26
    Elizabeth Fager

    Thanks much for the tips

  27. 27

    Ok, this is much easier looking than I anticipated! It looks so pretty in those tupperware containers too! I would love to have those sitting in my freezer. I’ve got to get on this!

  28. 28

    Was wondering what size ziploc containers you use for your freezer jam?? I can only find 5oz & 2 cup.
    Thanks, Laurel

    • Jane Maynard

      I use the 2-cup containers, and I like the ones that I use because they have the screw tops, which stay on really well and seem to seal better for storing in the freezer! 🙂

  29. 29

    Thank-you so much, that helps me alot! Your strawberry jam looks beautiful!!

  30. 30

    I’m enjoying your comments about freezer jam. I have a recipe I’d like to make, but it’s for regular canning, which I really don’t want to do. Would the following work for freezing?

    4 to 5 large Golden Delicious apples,
    peeled and sliced (about 2 pounds)
    1 cup water
    5 cups sugar
    1/2 teaspoon butter
    1 pouch (3 ounces) liquid fruit pectin
    1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground mace, optional

    • Hi Maurine!

      I am completely unversed in traditional canning and how those recipes would covert to freezing. I honestly do not know how it would do with freezing! 🙂 My guess is it would probably be okay, but I am not entirely sure if it would need to be canned to set and all of that. (For freezer jam you do let the container sit covered on the counter for 24 hours before freezing.)

      My friend Aimee has a blog and she does TONS of canning, maybe you could go dig up her email and see if she has any info for you. Or maybe just do a little googling.

      Sorry I don’t have a better answer! I feel like most foods do well freezing, so it might be worth a try! 🙂

  31. 31

    I just tried making this wonderful jam with blackberries, and it came out runny! 🙁 I don’t know if I can salvage what I’ve already made, but do you have any tips for my next batch? I used the jar of Ball pectin and measured out the equivalent tablespoons to what is in a box, then followed your directions for stirring it and then mixing it with the berries/sugar mixture. I am going to try again on another batch, but I don’t want the same thing to happen again or I’m going to have a lot of ice cream topping!

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