Just because strawberry jam is typically preserved by canning doesn't mean you have to do it that way. Freezer jam—a simple method that combines fresh berries with a pectin solution that's cooked separately and stirred in—is a popular option.
Because the berries never see heat, this jam retains a much fresher strawberry flavor. Mashing rather than puréeing the berries creates a jam with better texture; a purée can take on a gummy set.
This recipe calls for standard dry pectin. There are two major brands, Kraft Sure-Jell and Ball RealFruit. Both work equally well and are interchangeable. Although you might be tempted to scale back the sugar on this recipe, it does more than sweeten; it helps the pectin do its thing. For a lower-sugar jam, you'll need to use a pectin specifically designed for low-sugar recipes.
- 2 cups mashed fresh strawberries (from approximately 1 pound hulled strawberries)
- 4 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 (1.75-ounce) packet dry pectin
- 3/4 cup water
Gather the ingredients.
Rinse the berries, and pat dry. With a paring knife, remove the hulls. Quarter the berries, or chop coarsely.
Place the berries in a medium non-reactive container. Crush the berries with a potato masher until they are broken down, but still have some texture. Measure out 2 cups of the mashed berries; reserve any extra for another use.
Add the sugar to the mashed berries and stir to combine thoroughly. Let stand 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan, combine the dry pectin and water. Stir over medium-high heat until the pectin dissolves completely. (It might be lumpy at first.) Bring to a full boil for exactly 1 minute, and remove from heat. Allow to cool for 3 minutes.
Pour the pectin directly into the berry-sugar mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour the jam into clean half-pint canning jars or plastic containers, leaving 1/2" headspace. Seal the jars, and let stand for 24 hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or in the freezer for up to 1 year. Thawed jam can keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Theoretically, any fruit or vegetable can be turned into freezer jam if you stick to the right proportions of fruit to sugar to pectin to water.
Try using other berries, including raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, even cranberries (although the latter will be tart) with this recipe. These berries won't require coarse chopping because they are already small.
Another option would be to try experimenting with red or green tomatoes and bell peppers to put a delicious vegetable-flavored spin on freezer jam. Your options are limited only by your creativity.