Making freezer jam

I decided to make freezer jam a couple weeks ago, and we are enjoying the fruits of my labor!   However, I did learn a few lessons myself from this experiment.   Here is my jam-making saga. 

 The first step was finding pectin.  Nowhere to be found at my fave HEB or Walmart.  I finally asked the lady at the checkout, who called someone else, who told me it was in the School Supplies aisle.  Really?  Since it was fast approaching naptime, I grabbed a couple boxes without reading labels (first mistake).   My reasoning for making freezer jam is first of all the wonderful flavor, and second, to avoid preservatives and minimize sugar.  I found that the Ball pectin was pure pectin, and required more labor and cleanup; the Certo had more preservatives but was easy to mix-in and didn’t require a separate pot for boiling. 

pectin and gelatin

 

The next step was reading the directions inside the box, and to my surprise, the freezer jam called for twice as much sugar as fruit!  Now, there were many dire warnings about how I would ruin the texture if I didn’t follow the recipe exactly…but I decided to test that theory for myself. 

After mashing the strawberries as directed, I tried a 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar and a 2:1 ratio.  Still a lot of nutrient-devoid calories, but  a little improvement.  I did add the lemon juice according to the recipe for strawberry jam, and just added peaches to my strawberry peach. 

prepping the berries and lemons

 

Next step was stirring for a few minutes.  I employed my two-year-old sous chef for one pot while I did another, and we had great fun stirring for the 3 minutes!  I think he especially enjoyed it, as I caught him stopping to lick the spoon a couple of times.  Guess we won’t be sharing those jars of jam with anyone outside of the family! 

mashing the berries with a potato masher. Smoother is better!
Finally I let them set.  The two pectins had different directions – one said to let it set on the counter for 24 hours, the other said to put it in the fridge after a couple of hours.  I felt more comfortable putting them in the fridge to avoid spoilage, so that’s what I did. 
How did they turn out?  They taste great!  I did need to add a little plain gelatin to thicken them up to my liking – especially the ones with less sugar.  I just mix about a teaspoon of gelatin per cup of jam right after opening a jar.  Last year I tried the low-sugar version and that did give a good texture but had more preservatives; I’m still on the lookout for great freezer jam recipes that call for even less sugar.  I have heard that the no-preservative and low-sugar freezer jams can spoil quickly in the fridge, but we haven’t had any problems at the rate we eat it.  Life doesn’t get much better than strawberry jam on homemade bread. 
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