Unlike traditional canned jam, these preserves do not require long days of preparation, exact cooking times (or any cooking at all sometimes), sterilizing jars and hours of your time.
All that’s needed is fresh ripe fruit, clean jars or containers that can go in the freezer, sugar and pectin to help the jam set. Since freezer jams use much less sugar and often are uncooked, they look and taste more like fresh ripe fruit than conventional jam. They’re versatile, too. Enjoy them on toast for breakfast, of course, but they’re also delicious spooned over yogurt or ice cream for dessert or stirred into a sauce for a roasted pork loin or chicken.
There are only a few things to keep in mind before starting in order to get the best-tasting results:
Since the fruit will not be cooked, make sure it is perfectly ripe—the jam is only going to be as good as the fruit used. Also make sure to use the right kind of pectin; otherwise the jam won’t set.
All fruit contains pectin, some more than others, and it is the combination of the fruit’s natural pectin and acid along with added sugar that causes jam to set after it has been cooked to a temperature of 220°F. Because freezer jams aren’t cooked and use less sugar, the fruit’s natural pectin needs to be boosted with commercial pectin, which is available in most supermarkets.
There are two main types of commercial pectin: regular pectin, which needs to be boiled with the sugar and water in order to set (jell) and “no cook” pectin that is designed specifically for uncooked freezer jams. Pectin is available in powder and liquid form.
Types of Pectin
Below are two of the well known brands of pectin. There are other brands depending on where you live. Be sure to use a pectin (the package will tell you) that is made for freezer jams.
SURE-JELL PREMIUM FRUIT PECTIN is a dry pectin product that can be used to make either cooked jams and jellies or quick-and-easy freezer jams and jellies.
SURE-JELL FOR LESS OR NO SUGAR NEEDED RECIPES is a dry fruit pectin that can be used to make recipes with at least 25% less sugar than other regular pectin recipes. Look for the pink box!
MCP® PREMIUM FRUIT PECTIN is a dry pectin product that can be used to make either cooked jams and jellies or quick-and-easy freezer jams and jellies. It is available on the West Coast.
CERTO® LIQUID FRUIT PECTIN was the first commercially produced pectin product and was introduced in 1912. Liquid pectin can be used to make either cooked jams and jellies or quick-and-easy freezer jams and jellies.
Ball® Brand RealFruit™ Instant Pectin is prepare in less than 30 minutes with no cooking required!
Ball® Brand RealFruit™ Low or No-Sugar Needed Flex Batch Pectin is great for lower-calorie jam. “It has been reformulated for improved flavor and performance. Be assured of a good set each time, as this formula provides more flexibility for sugar while maintaining a good gel,”according to the company.
While the great thing about these jams is the ability to control the amount of sugar, it’s important to remember that the less sugar you use, the less firm the jam will be. The directions on most boxes of pectin advise using the exact amount of sugar recommended or the jam will not set properly. This is simply a matter of taste; I prefer to have a jam that is a little runnier and a lot lower in sugar. The main thing to remember is to stir the pectin into the sugar thoroughly or it will clump together.
Whether you’re wondering how much pectin you’ll need, or which kinds of fruits will work best, this tool will assist you. Pectin Calculator: http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/reference/pectin.aspx
Hints for Success:
When making freezer jam with pectin, make sure that the ratios of sugar to fruit to pectin is what is recommended by the pectin manufacturer regardless of the pectin brand you use.
Since the jam is not sterilized by boiling, it must be frozen or refrigerated to keep from spoiling.
Cover the jam with clean, tight-fitting lids—never with paraffin. Leave a 1⁄2 inch of space at the top to allow for expansion during freezing and cover.
Using the paddle and your stand-type mixer to crush berries will incorporate air into your jam. The jam will be opaque and lighter in color, but quite attractive.
Once the pectin begins to set up thickening the jam, do not stir. Continuing to stir will break down the pectin and make for a syrupy jam.
Recipes Follow Using Freezer Jam Directions.
Variation 1 – No Cook- This version uses fresh berries and Ball Instant Pectin — there’s no cooking whatsoever.
Double Berry Freezer Jam
Makes: 2 cups
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons instant pectin
- 1 ¼ cups fresh blueberries
- 1 ¼ cups fresh raspberries
In a small bowl, stir together sugar and pectin, set aside. In a large bowl, mash fruit with a potato masher until crushed. Add sugar mixture to fruit and stir for 3 minutes. Ladle into containers and set aside for 30 minutes to set. Cover and store in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Varination 2 – Quick Cooked- Low or no-sugar needed pectin allows you to use considerably less sugar than traditional cooked jam recipes. This version does require some cooking and works best with sturdier fruit like peaches, pears and plums.
Peach, Plum & Fig Freezer Jam
Peel the peaches but leave the skins on the plums to give this jam a tangy-tart edge.
Makes: 3 cups
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons no-sugar needed pectin
- 2 cups peeled and chopped peaches
- 1 ½ cups chopped plums
- ½ cup chopped fresh figs
- Juice of one lemon
In a small bowl, stir together sugar and pectin, set aside. In a medium saucepan combine fruit and lemon juice, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in sugar and pectin mixture and bring to a hard boil. Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat. Ladle jam into containers, cover and set aside to set for 2 hours to set. Transfer to freezer and store for up to one year.
Variation 3 – Using a sugar alternative.
Strawberry Freezer Jam with Truvía ® Natural Sweetener
This jam has 88% fewer calories and 89% less sugar** than the full-sugar version.
38 servings (1 Tbsp per serving)
5 Calories Per Serving
- 2 cups crushed strawberries
- 2⁄3 cup Truvía® natural sweetener
- 1⁄2 packet (25g) pectin for no-sugar-needed recipes
- 1⁄2 cup water
Wash and rinse freezer proof containers with tight-fitting lids.
Wash and hull strawberries. Crush 1 cup of berries at a time using a potato masher, leaving some bits of fruit. (Do not purée)
Measure 2 cups of crushed fruit and place in large bowl.
Blend together Truvía® natural sweetener and pectin until thoroughly mixed in a large saucepan.
Stir in water and bring Truvía® natural sweetener, pectin and water mixture to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Add fruit into hot pectin mixture and stir for 1 minute until thoroughly mixed.
Pour jam into prepared containers, leaving 1⁄2 inch of space at the top to allow for expansion during freezing and cover. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours until set.
Store jam in the freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw each jar in the refrigerator before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Homemade Cherry Freezer Jam
Recipe makes five ½ cup containers of jam.
- 3 cups washed and pitted cherries
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons low sugar pectin
Place berries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a lid. Simmer over a low heat until berries are easily mashed and syrup develops. Mash fruit to your desired consistency. Use a blender if you want it smooth. Stir in pectin. Pour into storage containers. Cool before placing in the refrigerator or freezer.
This method can be used with most types of fruit, especially berries. Use your homemade freezer jam to top toast, stir into yogurt or add to a smoothie.
Store homemade jam in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for one year.
Peach Freezer Jam
If you want to use glass canning jars, be sure to choose wide-mouth dual-purpose jars made for freezing and canning. These jars have been tempered to withstand temperature extremes.
Six 8-ounce jars
- 2 pounds ripe peaches, pitted and quartered (5-6 peaches)
- 3/4 cups unsweetened white grape or apple juice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1.75-ounce package “no sugar needed” fruit pectin
- 1 to 3 cups sugar depending on how sweet you want the jam
Chop peaches in a food processor. Measure out 3 cups. (Reserve the rest for another use, such as a smoothie.)
Place white grape (or apple) juice, lemon zest and juice in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin; continue stirring until completely dissolved. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be “stirred down”), stirring frequently. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Immediately stir in the chopped peaches. Stir vigorously for 1 minute. Stir in sugar amount to taste, until dissolved. (I use only one cup, but the jam is a little loose.)
Divide the jam among six 8-ounce jars, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between the top of the jam and the top of the jar (this space allows the jam to expand as it freezes). Cover with lids and let the jam stand at room temperature until set, about 24 hours. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 1 year. Defrost frozen jam in the refrigerator.
Variations: This recipe can be adapted to make other fruit jams. Substitute 3 cups chopped or crushed fruit of your choice for the peaches and follow Steps 2 through 4. Cranberry-raspberry juice can be used instead of apple or white grape juice. Omit lemon zest and lemon juice if desired. Here’s the amount of fruit you’ll need to start with to get 3 cups chopped or crushed:
- Blueberries: about 2 pounds or 2 1/2 pints; remove any stems, crush with a potato masher
- Cherries, sweet or sour: about 2 1/4 pounds; remove stems and pits, finely chop
- Raspberries: about 2 pounds or five 6-ounce containers; crush with a potato masher
- Strawberries: about 3 pounds; hull and crush with a potato masher
Strawberry Freezer Jam With Liquid Pectin
- 2 cups crushed or finely chopped ripe strawberries (approximately 1 quart whole, washed and stemmed)
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 3-ounce pouch liquid fruit pectin
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Place the prepared strawberries into a large bowl. Measure the sugar into a separate bowl. Add the sugar to the strawberries and thoroughly mix; set aside for 10 minutes.
Stir the liquid fruit pectin and lemon juice in a small bowl. (Do not heat the pectin.) Stir the pectin mixture into fruit mixture. Continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is no longer grainy, about 3 minutes.
Pour into clean containers. Leave 1/2 inch of space to allow for expansion during freezing. Cover and let stand at room temperature until set (but not longer than 24 hours). For immediate use, store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Freeze remaining containers for up to 1 year.
To use, thaw and store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
- Note: You want bits of fruit in the jam, so if you’re using a food processor, use the pulse or on-off switch so you don’t end up with a puree. You can also use a potato masher, crushing only 1 cup of berries at a time.
- Note: Use rigid plastic or glass containers, with lids that seal tightly. Consider 1- or 2-cup sizes, so the contents are consumed within 3 weeks of thawing.
Orange Blueberry Freezer Jam
- 2-1/2 cups sugar
- 1 medium orange
- 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, crushed
- 1 pouch (3 ounces) liquid fruit pectin
Rinse four clean 1-cup freezer proof containers with lids with boiling water. Dry thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 250°F. Place sugar in a shallow baking dish; bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely grate 1 tablespoon peel from the orange.
Peel and chop the orange.
In a large bowl, combine blueberries, warm sugar, grated peel and chopped orange; let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pectin; stir constantly for 3 minutes to evenly distribute pectin.
Immediately fill all containers to within 1/2 in. of tops. Wipe off the top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature until set, but not longer than 24 hours.
Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 12 months. Thaw frozen jam in refrigerator before serving.
Yield: 4 cups.
- Simple Freezer Jam (moderndayforager.com)
- Freezer Jam, A Place to Start (modernhomesteaders.net)
- Prepare fruit now for jam later (gazettetimes.com)
- freezer jam: new addiction (stampingirlblog.wordpress.com)
- Easy-to-Make Freezer Jam (thelocaldish.com)