No-cook Freezer Jams

Ripe, juicy fruit and berries are at their summertime best in my farmer’s market, so I loaded up on bargain blueberries, strawberries and nectarines and headed home to make homemade jam. Granted I have never made jam, but I remember my great aunt Vita cooking jam in a big pot (half her size) and then canning it in jars in a large enameled canner. I wasn’t going to can the jam; I was going to make quick no-cook freezer jam. I’m a chef; what could be simpler?

All’s well that ends well, but the beginning wasn’t simple. I knew that to “set” or gel and become jam, fruit needs extra pectin (a natural complex carbohydrate found in the cell walls of plants, particularly fruit). And I know that Aunt Vita didn’t have today’s powdered pectin, so she cooked the fruit to death to thicken it by a combination of reduction and whatever natural pectin was in the fruit.

So I picked up a couple boxes of a well-known brand of regular powdered fruit pectin, but when I read the direction for no-cook freezer jam (not to mention for the cooked jam) I was stunned by the amount of sugar required: almost twice the amount of sugar as fruit. Yikes! Might as well hand my family a bowl of sugar; why bother to cook?

Then I did a little research. There are several brands of powdered pectin formulated for reduced or even no sugar jams; I tested two:

  • ŸSure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes, 1.75 oz.
  • ŸPomona’s Universal Fruit Pectin, 1 oz.

jam-making supplies and ingredients

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Sure Jell: On the plus side it is widely available at almost all supermarkets; it is simple to use. On the minus side: one package makes only one batch of jam; you can’t make freezer jam with sugar substitute.

Pomona’s: On the plus side, one package makes two to four batches of jam; the freezer jam requires significantly less sugar than Sure Jell. On the minus side: it is not widely available (sold at Whole Foods, Williams Sonoma and on line); it is slightly more difficult to use; you can’t make freezer jam with sugar substitute.

My first batch of jams—strawberry, nectarine and blueberry—not only look lovely, they taste fresh and delicious.

finished, ready to serve 2

And instead of buying costly, breakable glass jars, why don’t you do as I did: purchase 1-cup freezer-safe plastic containers with lids. Just be sure to wash them in hot soapy water, rinse them well and let them drain before using.

jam-making supplies and ingredients 2

No-Cook Freezer Strawberry Jam Using Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes

Yield: Makes 6 (8-ounce) containers plus enough for a test batch.

No-Cook Freezer Strawberry Jam Using Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes

Ingredients

  • 4 pints (2 quarts) strawberries, washed, hulled, halved (makes 4 cups crushed)
  • 1 box Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Using a large capacity food processor, pulse to chop strawberries in small pieces; do not puree smoothly. Transfer strawberries to a separate container. Reserve.
  2. In a 3 ½-quart pot place entire contents of Sure Jell pectin envelope and sugar. Whisk to combine. Add water and salt. Whisk well.
  3. Over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Turn off heat.
  4. Add reserved strawberries and stir very well to mix.
  5. Ladle mixture into 6 (8-ounce) containers and any remaining mixture into a test container.
  6. Cover, label and date. Let rest 24 hours to set.
  7. Taste test batch for consistency. If set, transfer containers to freezer. If jam has not set, empty entire batch back into pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle into clean containers, cover, cool and freeze for up to 1 year.
  8. To use: defrost 1 container in the refrigerator. Stir from bottom before using. Use within 3 weeks.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/no-cook-freezer-jams/

This tastes almost like fresh strawberries and makes enough for a test batch. The test batch lets you know if the jam has gelled enough. If it hasn’t? Just put the whole batch back into the pan, bring it to a boil, and cook it, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes.

chopped strawberries in pyrex plus the pan with sure jell and sugar mixed

Cool it and put it back into the freshly washed containers.

cooked combined sure jell pectin (cooked) and the strawberries (uncooked) being ladled into the ziploc containers

Next is No-Cook Nectarine or Peach Freezer Jam.  Begin by washing the nectarines or peaches and chop with a food processor.

necterines being washed

Bring Sure Jell pectin envelope, sugar, water and salt to a boil.

measured and sure jell cooking in a pan

Add reserved fruit and stir very well to mix.

nectarines added to sure jell in pan

This nectarine or peach jam makes a wonderful topping for GF toast, biscuits and cornbread. You can find recipes for all these GF treats in Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen. I also use this to top ice cream and GF puddings.

No-Cook Nectarine or Peach Freezer Jam Using Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes

Yield: Makes 6 (8-ounce) containers plus a test batch

No-Cook Nectarine or Peach Freezer Jam Using Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds nectarines or peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped (makes 4 cups crushed fruit)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 box Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. After peeling, if fruit cannot be easily halved and separated from pit, then slice fruit away from pit and chop coarsely.
  2. Using a large capacity food processor, pulse to chop fruit in small pieces; do not puree smoothly. Transfer fruit to a separate container; add lemon juice and mix. Reserve.
  3. In a 3 ½- quart pot place entire contents of Sure Jell pectin envelope and sugar. Whisk to combine. Add water and salt. Whisk well.
  4. Over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Turn off heat.
  5. Add reserved fruit and stir very well to mix.
  6. Ladle mixture into 6 (8-ounce) containers and any remaining mixture into a test container.
  7. Cover, label and date. Let rest 24 hours to set.
  8. Taste test batch for consistency. If set, transfer containers to freezer. If jam has not set, empty entire batch back into pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle into clean containers, cover, cool and freeze for up to 1 year.
  9. To use: defrost 1 container in the refrigerator. Stir from bottom before using. Use within 3 weeks.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/no-cook-freezer-jams/

Last but not least is No-Cook Freezer Blueberry Jam.  Much like the other two, this recipe calls for sugar and lemon juice to be added to chopped blueberries.  The one difference you will find is the addition of calcium water (see below for further instructions).

sugar added

No-Cook Freezer Blueberry Jam Using Pomona’s Universal Pectin

Yield: Makes 6 (8-ounce) containers, plus a very small test batch

No-Cook Freezer Blueberry Jam Using Pomona’s Universal Pectin

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (2 quarts) washed, stemmed blueberries (makes 4 cups crushed)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups sugar, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 3 teaspoons pectin powder
  • 6 teaspoons calcium water, or more as needed

Instructions

  1. Make calcium water: In a small container with a tight-fitting lid, add contents of powdered calcium envelope to ½ cup of water. Stir to mix well. Reserve
  2. Using a large capacity food processor, pulse to chop blueberries in small pieces; do not puree smoothly. Transfer blueberries to a separate container, add sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Stir well to mix. Reserve.
  3. In a food processor, place boiling water, Add 3 teaspoons pectin powder. Process to dissolve pectin, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides and top as necessary.
  4. Using a silicone spatula, scrape pectin mixture into blueberries, stirring well to mix. Add 6 teaspoons calcium water, stirring well to mix until jam thickens to the consistency of slush. It will thicken more as it stands. If jam does not thicken, add calcium water by teaspoonful until jam thickens.
  5. Ladle mixture into 6 (8-ounce) containers and any remaining mixture into a test container.
  6. Cover, label and date. Taste test batch for consistency. If jam has set, freeze immediately. If jam has not set, empty entire batch back into pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle into clean containers, cool, cover and freeze for up to 1 year.
  7. To use: defrost 1 container in the refrigerator. Stir before using. Use within 1 week.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/no-cook-freezer-jams/

This brand of pectin comes with 2 envelopes inside. One contains pectin powder; the other calcium powder which, when mixed with ½ cup water, helps activate the pectin.

calcium water

Always mix up the calcium water first and refrigerate any you don’t use. (Stir before using). The pectin powder (with calcium water) makes more than one batch of jam.

calcium water mixed

 

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