For many years, Deb S., a member of our Test Kitchen staff has been teaching community food preservation classes for the University of Minnesota’s Extension Services program. She has so much knowledge about canning and preserving that we asked her to share some of it with you. Thanks, Deb!
I love summer. I love the long, warm days and the fresh fruit that is abundantly available. I grew up on a farm, and we had a wealth of fruit in our backyard—strawberries, raspberries, cherries and an apple orchard. One of my fondest memories is of making jam with my mom. We would go out in the early morning hours and pick the fruit and then make jam. She often made fresh bread to go with the jam. What a treat!
There are two types of jam—cooked jam and freezer jam. Cooked jam must be processed in a canner and, once processed, may be stored in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year. Freezer jam may be stored in the refrigerator for three to four weeks or in the freezer for up to a year.
Making homemade jam isn’t difficult if you follow some basic guidelines. And making freezer jam like this Strawberry Freezer Jam is an easy way to try your hand at jam making. Are you ready?
When making freezer jam you should use ripe fruit, fresh ingredients, and, of course, a tested recipe from a reliable resource. You don’t want to waste expensive ingredients -- and your time -- if the jam doesn’t turn out.
You will need to purchase pectin which thickens the fruit to make the jam. There are two types—powdered and liquid. The two types are not interchangeable in a recipe. Always use a recipe developed for the type of pectin that you are using.
The great part about making freezer jam is that you don’t need any special equipment. You will need the following to make freezer jam:
- Large bowl to crush the fruit in
- Potato masher to crush the fruit
- Canning funnel – a ladle works well too
- Clean, freezer-grade, plastic containers or canning jars, lids and rings
Follow these steps for making freezer jam:
1. Wash containers or canning jars, lids and rings in hot, soapy water.
2. Prepare fruit before you begin. Choose firm, ripe fruit that is free of bruises or mold. Fruit that is overripe may cause the jam to have an “off” flavor or mold. Wash the fruit thoroughly, but don’t soak the fruit in water because the fruit will absorb more moisture and the jam will be soft.
3. Place the prepared fruit in a large bowl and crush with a potato masher.
4. After you’ve mashed the fruit, measure it and all other ingredients in advance. It may be tempting to reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe, but the correct amount of sugar is needed so the jam sets up properly.
5. Add other ingredients. At this point you should follow the directions in your recipe carefully because the method may vary depending on the recipe and the type of pectin used.
6. Pour the prepared jam into clean containers to 1/2-inch from the top.
7. Wipe the top edge of the container clean. Cover with a tight-fitting lid if using plastic containers or lids and rings if using canning jars.
8. Let stand at room temperature for the amount of time specified in the recipe.
Freezer jam may be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks or up to a year in the freezer. To use frozen jam, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. If it has separated, stir to blend it together.
Now you have homemade jam to share with family and friends!
Written by Deb S., a senior specialist in the Land O’Lakes Consumer Affairs Department