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  1. Sunday, April 26, 2020

    Pomona’s Pectin Freezer Jam, My New Favorite

    I have been writing about freezer jam for years. My mom always made it and I have continued the tradition as an adult. I love freezer jam – you don’t have to cook the jam, you can store it in any container you have handy and just pop it in the freezer, and it’s the best tasting jam around (in my humble opinion, at least!). I have a major update to share regarding my annual freezer jam process. I’ve always used Sure-Jell pectin because that’s what my mom always used and it’s what I could find in any standard grocery store. This year, however, I ended up trying Pomona’s Universal Pectin and I am in love!

    Boxes of Pomona's Universal Pectin in front of a jar of jam

    Since I have been limiting myself to just one grocery store per week (thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown), Pomona’s was my only option because that was what was available. I was a little nervous about switching it up, but I will for sure use Pomona’s Pectin over Sure-Jell going forward, pandemic lockdown or not!

    SURE-JELL PECTIN: CONS 

    While I love the freezer jam I have always made with Sure-Jell, there have been a few drawbacks over the years.

    1. Potential of jam not jelling: Sometimes the jam simply doesn’t jell. You’ll follow all the directions precisely and for whatever reason the jam just never jells. So, every batch was stressful. And when it didn’t jell, it was just such a waste of time and fruit. I know for a fact I’m not the only one this happens to, based on years of comments here on the blog.
    2. Recipe misprint: One year Sure-Jell misprinted the freezer jam recipe in the pectin boxes. It is amazing how many years those bad recipes keep turning up for people, ruining batch after batch of jam.
    3. Sugar Content. The classic Sure-Jell freezer jam recipe uses SO MUCH SUGAR. I know, I know, Sure-Jell has a low-sugar pectin option and I’ll admit I never tried it. I’m sure it’s great. But I love the original so much, but it is a heck of a lot of sugar.
    4. Different Recipes for Different Fruits: The recipes for different types of fruit are all different, so you have to be super careful when reading the recipe to prepare your jam or it won’t jell.
    5. Finicky Recipe: The directions are very finicky in general – you have to follow them precisely or else, well, see #1 and #4 for why this is frustrating!  

    Spoonful of raspberry freezer jam made with Pomona's Universal Pectin

    POMONA’S UNIVERSAL PECTIN: PROS

    Enter Pomona’s Universal Pectin. The texture of the jam is a little different from Sure-Jell’s, but it is equally as delicious. I will now address each of the issues listed above as applied to Pomona’s:

    1. Happy Jelling! This pectin is super reliable. I have made many batches now and every time the jam starts jelling instantly. It’s magic. And completely un-stressful.
    2. No misprinted recipe legacy. Pomona’s, however, does not include the freezer jam recipe in the box. You can find it on their website, but it’s kind of buried. So, I will share the recipe below (and re-write it with my notes). 
    3. Sugar Content: Pomona’s freezer jam recipe uses WAY LESS SUGAR and is still delicious. And the jam jells no problem and isn’t so dependent on sugar content. Also, the recipe gives you a range of the amount of sugar to use, so you can adjust to your taste.
    4. The recipe for different types of fruit are all the same. Four cups of prepared fruit per 4 teaspoons of pectin! (Note, there are approximately 9 teaspoons of pectin in 1 box, so don’t dump the whole thing for one batch…make sure you measure.)
    5. Simple Recipe: The directions are simper and seem no fail to me. I would be stunned if this recipe didn’t jell. It’s worked like a charm every time for me!

    So, there you have it. I’m a Pomona’s convert! 

    Looking down into a jar of raspberry freezer jam made with Pomona's Universal Pectin

    FREEZER JAM RESOURCES

    • Click here for my Freezer Jam Fruit Buying Guide. This guide will tell you how many ounces of fruit to buy for different amounts of pectin and sugar. I included measurements for both Sure-Jell and Pomona’s Universal pectins. This guide is a lifesaver for me year after year and I updated it with a nice graphic this year! Note: the guide is only for strawberries and raspberries.
    • Click here for the Sure-Jell raspberry and strawberry freezer jam recipe. Sure-Jell is delicious and some of you may still want to go that route. 
    • Lastly, the Pomona’s Universal Pectin freezer jam recipe! This recipe can be used for many types of fruits, listed below! 

    Boxes of Pomona's Universal Pectin in front of a jar of raspberry freezer jam

    Freezer Jam with Pomona's Universal Pectin
     
    This recipe is for raw freezer jam using Pomona's Universal Pectin. "Raw" simply means you do not cook the jam. The jam can be stored in any air-tight container, in the fridge for 1 week and up to 1 year in the freezer. (Note: I'm certain we've kept it in the fridge longer than 1 week without it going bad, but do what you feel safe with!) Recipe suitable for the following fruits: Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Sour Cherry, Sweet Cherry, Pear, Kiwi, Blackberry, Plum, Peach, Apricot, Nectarine This recipe is from Pomona's Pectin website, but I have re-written it for ease and specifically for raw freezer jam, and have added notes as well.
    Author:
    Serves: 4-6 cups
    Ingredients
    • 4 cups mashed fruit (see step 3 below for preparation details)
    • ½ cup to 1 cup honey OR ¾ to 2 cups sugar (I use sugar)
    • ¾ cup boiling water
    • 3 teaspoons pectin
    • 4 teaspoons calcium water (plus more if needed, see step 1 below for how to prepare)
    Instructions
    1. Prepare calcium water: Combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (included in the box) with ½ cup water in a small clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Set aside. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use if needed.
    2. Wash and rinse freezer containers. Set aside.
    3. If using Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Sour Cherry, Sweet Cherry, Pear, Kiwi, Blackberry, Plum: Remove hulls/stems/pits/skins as applicable, mash or grind, then measure to 4 cups. Make sure fruit is at room temperature when making the jam. If using Peach, Apricot or Nectarine: Pit/Chop/Mash OR peel/pit/mash fruit - bring to boil in a pan, boil for 2 minutes while stirring then let cool in a bowl, then measure to four cups.
    4. Measure fruit into large bowl. Add chosen sweetener (honey or sugar) to fruit and mix well.
    5. Bring ¾ cup water to a boil. Carefully pour into a food processor or blender. Add 4 teaspoons pectin. Vent lid and blend 1-2 minutes, until all powder is dissolved. (Jane note: I brought the water to a boil, then removed the pan from the heat, added the pectin, and whisked vigorously for 2 minutes and this worked, too.)
    6. Add hot liquid pectin to fruit mixture and stir to mix well.
    7. Add 4 teaspoons calcium water from jar, mix well into fruit mixture. Jell should appear at this point. If not, stir in 1 teaspoon calcium water at a time until jam is jelled.
    8. Fill containers, leaving ½" space at top of container. Store in freezer immediately for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after thawing.

     


  2. Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Freezer Jam Fruit Buying Guide

    This post was updated on 4/26/20 to include a visual freezer jam fruit buying guide, including information for Pomona’s Universal Pectin as well as Sure-Jell pectin. Original post was written 6/16/11.

    My jam is all made and stored in the freezer, ready and waiting to make our year a happy jam year indeed! We ended up with 28 cups (14 containers) of raspberry freezer jam and 48 cups (24 containers) of strawberry freezer jam. I bought WAY more berries than I realized, but I must admit that I’m happy to have such a large supply!

    Every year when I go to buy my berries and pectin, I end up standing in the store feeling frustrated. I can never figure out how many boxes of pectin I should buy for the amount of berries I have. Generally the containers the berries come in are measured in ounces, but the pectin recipe tells you how many pints of berries to buy. And it’s surprisingly annoying to figure out how those match up. AND…I’ve found that the amount of pints that the pectin box recipe suggests doesn’t necessarily yield the amount of crushed berries that they tell you it will.

    SOOOOOOOO…this year I kept track! And I crushed so many berries that I feel like this is pretty fool proof. This post will be helpful if you plan to make strawberry or raspberry freezer jam. And it will be very helpful for me next year when I go to make more jam. I’ll actually have all the amounts written down. No more frustrating google searches on my iPhone and hasty calculations on the back of a receipt while my girls tear the store apart, only to end up being wrong! This post will forever keep me on track. Yippee!

    Freezer Jam Fruit Buying Guide: Chart showing how much pectin, raspberries or strawberries and sugar to buy for making freezer jam with either Sure-Jell or Pomona's Universal pectins

    Here is the above chart broken down into text form:

    Sure-Jell Pectin Freezer Jam Buying Guide

    • 3 boxes Sure-Jell pectin for 64 ounces strawberries and 12 cups of sugar. Yield: 15 cups jam (64 ounces also labeld as 4 pounds crushes to 6 cups with a few berries left over)
    • 1 box Sure-Jell pectin for 24 ounces raspberries and 5 1/4 cups sugar. Yield: 7 cups jam

    Pomona’s Universal Pectin Freezer Jam Buying Guide

    There are approximately 9 teaspoons of pectin in one box, so you should be able to do two batches of jam with one box of Pomona’s pectin, based on the measurements below:

    • 4 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin for 44 ounces strawberries and 3/4 – 2 cups of sugar. Yield: 4-6 cups jam
    • 4 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin pectin for 32 ounces raspberries and 3/4 – 2 cups sugar. Yield: 7 cups jam

    This year I used sixteen 6-ounce containers of raspberries (4 boxes of pectin and 21 cups of sugar) and three 64-ounce containers of strawberries (9 boxes of pectin and 36 cups of sugar) to end up with the amounts of jam I outlined in the first paragraph of this post.

    PLEASE NOTE: If you are using SURE-JELL pectin, a couple years ago some of the boxes got bad directions. Click here to make sure that your directions in the box are the correct ones!

    Someone asked in the last freezer jam post about the Ziploc containers I use. Growing up my grandma and mom used all kinds of containers – jars, random tupperware, even Ziploc bags! For freezer jam, as long as it’s clean and can close, you’re good to go! I personally use the small (2-cup) round Ziploc containers that have a screw-top lid. We always eat our jam within a year and we’ve never had ice crystals or freezer burn. Then I save the containers for next year – they stack nicely so they don’t take up too much space while waiting for the next batch of jam. (One quick tip – often there is a $1 coupon inside the Ziploc containers for the pectin I use. I never discover the coupons until the jam is already made and am kicking myself for not saving $13! Just keep that in mind if you buy these containers for jam.)

    I hope all of this is helpful for at least some of you. Even if it isn’t, I have to admit it will be for me. I know, so selfish.