How to Make Strawberry Freezer Jam
by Kerry Smith
If you can make macaroni and cheese from a box, you can make freezer jam. I'm serious! It's so easy. There's no cooking involved. In fact, it's even easier than making the beloved Mac & Cheese kid classic. Right now strawberries are readily available or ready for picking in many parts of the country. Even when it’s not strawberry season, you can still make the jam with store-bought fresh or frozen strawberries.
If you've never made freezer jam, this is your season! It is the best! A few years ago, I didn't make any, and my husband and sons were so sad. I quickly redeemed myself, and in just an hour and a half, I made 3 quarts. This project is great to do with kids, and they can be involved with the whole process if you’d like. You can do a bigger batch like I did, or you can quickly do a small batch in about 30 minutes.
De-Stem, Cut, and Crush the Fruit
Start by de-stemming the strawberries (already de-stemmed if frozen) and cut them into quarters. (Kids can use a plastic knife.) When you have about 4 cups, crush them. For me, this is a manageable amount; if you want to crush more berries at a time, go for it! I use a handheld potato masher so I can get the best consistency for my jam—not too thick, not too runny. I've used my food processor before, but I processed the berries too much, and after the jam set it was too runny. If you use a food processor, make sure you pulse the berries and leave chunks. You want to crush the berries just enough to leave the jam with a nice, thick consistency. A handheld immersion blender might also do the trick if you want better control of the jam’s consistency.
Add Pectin and Sugar
When you have 4 cups of crushed fruit, you’re ready to add the pectin and sugar. I recommend using a simple no-cook freezer jam fruit pectin such as the Ball brand. They sell a 4.7 oz. container ($4.95 through Amazon) that allows you to do 1-10 batches and includes a scalable recipe on the bottle. I have also used Ball’s single-batch packets (1.59 ozs; about $2.50 at Walmart and local grocery stores) because I didn’t plan ahead and order the flex-batch product; this year, it’s already in my online cart. You'll need one single-batch packet for 4 cups of crushed fruit, and the package recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, which is much too sweet for my taste. I used approximately half a cup. You can adjust the sugar or use a sugar substitute if you'd like. Stir the crushed fruit, sugar, and pectin for about three minutes.
Store and Freeze (or Eat!)
Pour the jam into plastic containers. I usually use some specifically made for freezer storage, but if I know the jam will be consumed fairly quickly, I just use recycled containers or whatever I have on hand. Decide ahead of time which containers you'll need. Don't fill them completely full because the jam will expand slightly as it freezes. Seal the lids, write the contents and date on the lid with permanent marker, and store the containers in the freezer. The jam will keep really well for up to a year, but put one batch directly into the refrigerator so you can enjoy it right away.
Best of all, you can enjoy a fresh, yummy taste of summer anytime--even when there's snow, snow, snow! I give freezer jam as Christmas gifts to my neighbors. It's perfect because if they're not home, their cold front porch is an ideal storage spot for my jam until they return. The only problem is that all your jam might get eaten before the holiday season. Oh well! You'll just have to make some more.
© 2016 KidsOutAndAbout.com
Kerry Smith is married to Cole, and they have two sons. Their family blogs at GoBeyondAutism.com, and they can’t imagine life without homemade strawberry freezer jam and hot, fresh rolls. Truly divine!