3 Easy No-Cook Freezer Jam Recipes

Homemade preserves with half the sugar and none of the fuss? Here's how.

August 29, 2017
freezer jam
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Growing up on my grandparents' farm, I learned at an early age that preserving summer's bounty was a way of life—a time-consuming way of life. We would spend days picking, cleaning, and chopping fruit. Next came hours over a hot stove making jam and sterilizing jars. But all that work was worth it, when long after we had forgotten the flavor of a fresh peach, strawberry, or fig, we opened one of those jewel-colored jars and vividly recalled the taste of summer.

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Since then, I have discovered another, easier way to get that sunny flavor in the middle of winter: freezer jams. 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 time.

All that's needed is fresh ripe fruit, clean jars, 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. 

(Want another easy method to make jam? Try this no-cook berry jam that gets its texture from chia seeds.)

There are only a few things to keep in mind before starting in order to get the best-tasting results. First, 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 220 degrees. 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 or on Amazon.com.

 

Related: 5 Worst Sweeteners You Should Avoid, And 5 Safe Alternatives To Try

There are two main types of commercial pectin: regular pectin, which needs to be boiled with the sugar and water in order to set, and "no cook" pectin that is designed specifically for uncooked freezer jams. 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.

Here are a few luscious freezer jams I made last summer. 

Blackberry-Lavender Freezer Jam

Makes about 5 (8-ounce) jars

6 cups blackberries
Juice of 1 lemon
(about 3–4 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons minced dried
lavender flowers
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons real-fruit instant
pectin
 
1. In a large bowl, combine blackberries, lemon juice, lavender, and salt, and stir to mix. Mash with a potato masher just until the blackberries start to release juice but are still in chunks.

2. In a separate bowl, stir sugar and instant pectin until well blended. Add to blackberry mixture and stir for 3 minutes until sugar dissolves.

3. Pour into clean jars or freezer containers, leaving 3/4 inch of space at top to allow jam to expand in freezer. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours until set. Store refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or in freezer up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator when ready to use.

 

4. Variations: Try different combinations, like Peach Vanilla or Plum Pepper.

Related: 3 Super Simple Ways To Preserve All Those Summer Tomatoes

Balsamic-Strawberry Freezer Jam

Makes about 6 (8-ounce) jars

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
6 cups strawberries, halved
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons real fruit instant pectin

1. Place vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Cook over medium-high heat to reduce by half to about 1/4 cup. Set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine vinegar, strawberries, and sea salt. Mash with a potato masher just until strawberries start to release juice but are still in large chunks. In a separate bowl, stir sugar and pectin until well blended. Add to strawberry mixture and stir for 3 minutes until sugar dissolves.

3. Pour into clean jars or freezer containers, leaving 3/4 inch of space at top to allow jam to expand in freezer. Store refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or in freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator when ready to use.

Related: 3 Genius Ways To Use Up Those Summer Berries

Fig-Apple Freezer Jam

Apples are naturally high in pectin, so this recipe doesn’t require any additional pectin to help it set.

Makes about 5 (8-ounce) jars

2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup apple juice
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons minced rosemary
4 cups quartered figs (about 2 pints)
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. In a saucepan, combine apples, sugar, apple juice, lemon juice, and rosemary, and stir. Bring to a low boil over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft, about 10 minutes.

2. Place figs in a large mixing bowl and add salt. Add apple mixture to fig mixture and stir to combine. Mash with a potato masher just until figs and apples start to break into pieces, but are still in chunks.

3. Pour into clean jars or freezer containers, leaving 3/4 inch of space at top to allow jam to expand in freezer. Store refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or in freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator when ready to use.

Related: How To Preserve Summer Fruit The Old Fashioned Way

All three recipes were simple, delicious, and unlike anything I could ever get at the store. Unfortunately, I ran out a few months ago, but it's almost time to make a few more batches. I can't wait.

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