Simple Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry freezer jamStrawberries are in season, and they are beautiful, sweet, and inexpensive right now.  When I was little, we used to have a strawberry patch in our backyard.  We’d pick a few quarts, then my parents would make jam, and we’d have strawberry shortcake for dinner. Well, now I buy my berries at Publix, but the tradition continues!

Freezer jam is SO easy.  If you’ve never made jam or jelly before, then start with freezer jam.  There’s no cooking, and I think the results taste WAY better than the cooked jams and jellies.  It’s also prettier–a bright red instead of a brown-red.  The trade-off is that you have to freeze the jam until you’re ready to open and use it, and then it needs to be stored in the refrigerator.  It will last up to a year in the freezer, though, so if you plan ahead and make enough, you’ll never be without!

Start by buying a package of fruit pectin and some jars.  I like the small jars for jam (about 1/2 c.) because they’re nice for gift-giving.  If I have extras, I just fill them with my Aunt Diane’s hot mustard recipe {here}.

I’ve seen two kind of fruit pectin in stores.  I’ve always used Sure-Jell in the past (it comes in a box like Jell-O), but this year I tried Ball’s version.  The package looked like this, and was right next to the canning jars and supplies at the store:

Ball fruit pectin

The jam recipe is on the back of the package.  If you use Sure-Jell, then there’s an insert inside with ALL kinds of jam recipes.  These tell you how much fresh fruit to buy and how much sugar you need.  Strawberry jam only requires strawberries, sugar, and pectin.  One pound of fresh strawberries will yield about 2 cups of crushed berries for jam, so buy accordingly.

I made a double batch of jam, so I started with four pounds of berries.  I washed them, hulled them, and cut them in half.  To mash them, you can use a food processor, blender (I used my Vitamix), or a potato masher.  I like my jam to have only small chunks of fruit, so I process the berries a bit longer.

Chopping strawberries for jam

 

Using the exact amounts of crushed berries and sugar is so important to having your jam jell.  If they say 2 cups of crushed berries, then don’t skimp.  Buy an extra pound of berries just in case and plan to have strawberry shortcake or fruit salad for dinner!

Strawberry jam

The Ball pectin required a little less sugar than the Sure-Jell recipe; however, it also didn’t thicken quite as much.  Sure-Jell requires you to boil water and add the pectin; Ball pectin just gets mixed in with the sugar and fruit.  My husband likes the Ball recipe better but I like the Sure-Jell recipe better (they also have a sugar-free version for diabetics), so we are a split-decision household.

Mix the pectin, sugar and fruit together according to your package instructions:

Strawberry jam

 

And then pour into the prepared jars (I wash mine in the dishwasher to sterilize them):

Strawberry jam in jars

 

The jars usually sit at room temperature on the counter for up to 24 hours while they set; then you pop them in the freezer or send them down the street to the neighbors.

Plan ahead and bake bread the same day you’re making jam–we had homemade sourdough bread with ours and it was slap-your-momma good!  We also had strawberry shortcake with the leftover puree, or at least, angel food cake with strawberries (I guess that’s not technically shortcake).  My kids were in heaven, and my husband accused me of thwarting his diet, yet again!

Strawberry shortcakeSpeaking of kids, freezer jam is a great recipe to make with them.  It’s hard to mess it up, there’s no huge pot of boiling water and hot fruit on the stove, and the results are pretty much immediate.

Later in the summer, I highly recommend peach jam–it is amazing–and I always make hot pepper jelly, too, although that uses the traditional cooking and water bath and is a bit more difficult.  This is a great place to start with Jam Making 101!

I dressed a few jars up with jute twine to send to the neighbors:

Strawberry jam with jute twineSo easy!  Now, go forth and whip up a batch!

Thanks for stopping by.

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Comments

  1. I see that you used the Ball brand pectin, which is great! Did you use their freezer jam pectin or the classic pectin. Sorry, I couldn’t tell by the photo. I was wondering about the runny jam thing :-)

    • Hey, Tanya–
      It was the freezer jam pectin. It was much thinner than the freezer jam I make with Sure-Jell pectin, but I still wouldn’t say it was runny. Does that make sense!

  2. Do you have any issues freezing in the glass Ball jars? Thanks!

    • Hi, Katie–
      I’ve never had any problems, and I’ve been eating freezer jam out of glass jars for (literally) my entire life. Christy

  3. When you freeze the jam, do you follow the whole canning/sealing process, or do you just freeze them? I’ve never tried this before, and just picked 7 lbs of berries!
    Thanks!

    • Melanie–
      There are directions inside the package of pectin (whether you use Ball or Sure-Jell), but no, you do not have to cook and seal freezer jam. However, you do have to keep the jam frozen until it’s time to use it, and then you have to store it in the fridge. I like the taste better than cooked jam, because it’s fresher, but obviously you sacrifice convenience and shelf life for the better taste. Good luck with your berries!!

  4. Sure Jell vs Ball recipes – you said you like one and your husband likes the other. Can you expand on the difference between the two?

    • Sure–the Ball recipe is thinner and not as sweet (because it uses significantly less sugar–that’s why my health-nut hubby likes it better). The Sure-Jell recipe “jells” more and is sweeter; it’s what I grew up eating, so it’s what I prefer. Both are delicious, though!

  5. Hi! I was wondering if you could tell me where you found the bread tin? I’ve been looking like one just like that for a long time, with no luck. Thanks so much!!

    • Wendy–
      I bought it at Tuesday Morning about five years ago, and still see them there and places like TJ Maxx sometimes. Every once in awhile you see the real deal (a vintage one) at a flea market or on Ebay. Good luck!

  6. I have the BALL Fruit Fresh Poduce Protector

    How much Sugar? I now think I have the wrong product but did make it earlier this year and want to make more from my frozen strawberries.

    Sugar amount please!

    • LV, I just use the recipe that’s on the package, so I don’t have it front of me right now. If you go to the store and buy a box of Ball Fruit Pectin or Sure-Jell Fruit Pectin, use the recipe they give you for strawberry freezer jam and use those exact amounts of fruit and sugar. What you bought does sound like the wrong thing. Good luck!

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