Freezer Strawberry Jam

This wonderful jam is a staple at our home.  We grew up making it and I've made it each year throughout all of my married life.  :)

When you make freezer strawberry jam {or any other fruit jam that's stored in the freezer} you don't cook the fruit so you get a wonderful fresh taste.  It also retains the beautiful natural fruit color.  We always have it on our waffles.  It's great on biscuits or muffins or sandwiches or anything

We've had a lot of discussion in our extended family about how to make it and what kind everyone likes best.  The differences basically come from which brand of pectin you buy.  Some of us use a pectin that's cooked, others use a reduced sugar brand, and others like a ready-to-use pectin.  There are a few different ways to make it--I'll share one way here (using a Sure-Jell Premium Fruit Pectin).

Strawberry Freezer Jam
1 quart strawberries (about a pound)
4 cups sugar
Sure-Jell Fruit Pectin
3/4 cups water

I'll walk you through the basics and add some tips, but, it's easiest just to follow the directions in the package.  I refer to them every time.  Just look for the "quick and easy" freezer jam section.  
Look at all those different kinds you can make!  I've made strawberry and blackberry and plum with great success.  Here is some peach from my sister Amy...
First, wash the strawberries or other fruit.  I usually fill a large bowl with water and add the strawberries.  Hull them (cut off the leaves).

Lightly chop or mash the fruit.  The easiest way I've found to do this is with a food processor.  If you start with a soft, juicy fruit you can mash it with a potato masher or even a fork.  But, the strawberries I can buy are rather firm so pulsing them in a food processor is quick and easy.  Don't puree them--you want to pulse them so they're finely chopped.
You will need 2 cups of mashed strawberries for one batch of jam.  Add 4 cups of carefully measured sugar into the 2 cups of strawberries.  Stir to combine.  Allow the fruit and sugar to sit for 10 minutes--stir occasionally. 

Begin to cook the pectin when you have about 3 minutes left of that 10 minute wait time.  In a small saucepan stir together the powdered pectin and 3/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute (stir continuously). 
Pour the hot pectin mixture into the sugar and strawberries and stir well to combine (this takes about 3 minutes).  Pour the jam into your prepared containers.  And, you're done!  {Well, except for washing the dishes--and eating the jam!}
Allow the covered containers of jam to sit on the counter for about 24 hours so the jam can set.  Then, store it in the refrigerator or freezer.  It will keep in the freezer for about a year.  We make many, many batches each spring and stock up for the entire year.  This past year we got low on jam and had to ration it.  We hope to not have to go through that dramatic (and traumatic) rationing of strawberry jam this coming year!  :)

Containers--I've used all types!  My favorite are the square ones pictured above.  They fit compactly into the freezer, are sturdy, and reusable.  {The only problem is they aren't readily available here!} You can also use any lidded plastic container--Ziploc, Glad, or containers you find in the plastic storage section of the grocery store.  I like ones with screw-top lids.  You can also use straight-sided glass jars.  There are wonderful plastic screw-top lids that you can find in the canning section of a store to use with these.  If you are ultra-resourceful you can re-use other plastic containers.  I've used the round, plastic, frosting containers.  The containers need to be very clean and have a good lid.  It's best if you can run them through the dishwasher before you use them.

Each recipe lists a yield for the batch of jam.  This one yields 5 cups of jam.  Knowing this will help you prepare the correct amount of containers to hold the jam.  

The jam making process goes extra smoothly if you have at least 2 or 3 workers.  It can be done by one person, but it goes a lot better with at least 2.  My 5-year-old helped me with these two batches.  She did a great job stirring.

I find it easiest to continuously make the jam--don't wait until you're done with one batch to start the next one!  I usually have two batches going at once.  When you get done with a batch just wash the dishes and rotate through another batch.  You can get a good process down and make several batches in one block of time.

Wait--I just remembered!  Last year I made a couple of double batches of freezer jam.  I did everything the same as called for in the instructions except I doubled the quantities.  I cooked the pectin for 1 minute as instructed.  It worked just fine.  There was no warning in the instructions against multiplying the recipe like I assumed there was. {You know--like it's hard to double candy when you make it--the cooking time and temperatures get thrown off, etc.  But, the jam worked.}  The one thing that may get thrown off is making sure all the sugar gets dissolved--you'll have to keep tabs of that if you double a batch.

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