Figuring out Freezer Jams

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The Struggle:

People often ask about freezer jams. So much so that I wanted to write about it here. When I first heard of a freezer jam I wasn’t so sure what it was. It’s not something that I had ever heard of. So I did a bit of research and it seems there are multiple ways to make it. Everyone seemed to have their own method for a freezer jam. But what is the best method?

“What is a freezer jam?” 

Easier than you’d think

Freezer jam is actually a smart idea. A way to make a jam that tastes like a fresh fruit. But in doing so you can’t keep it for long periods of time like a traditional jam. So what’s the solution? keep it in the freezer! Hence the name “freezer jam”. Let’s cover all of the above, a jam is usually fruit cooked with sugar, HM pectin, and an acid (lemon juice). But the cooking process changes the flavor of fruit quite a bit. You tend to lose a lot of the bright fresh flavors. So if you remove the cooking process then the fruit can remain bright and fresh. When you remove the cooking you unfortunately also lose the ability for the HM pectin to gel. Now I have seen recipes where the process is completely done from a cold state. The jam is left to sit on the counter to thicken up overnight. This isn’t how HM pectin works, HM pectin requires heat, sugar and acid to gel. 

So how could we make a freezer jam that gels just like a cooked jam? The best way I can think of is to macerate the fruit in sugar and acid. If you add too much sugar then it won’t all dissolve. So 50% of the sugar can be added to the fruit. The other 50% can be added to the water and HM pectin in the recipe. The water sugar and HM pectin can be boiled to activate the HM pectin and once it’s slightly cooled it can be tempered into the fruit mixture. Do this once the mixture cools to 130°F so as to not change the flavor of the fruit. If HM pectin has enough sugar and has been heated it still will not gel until it reaches 3.5ph. So by adding the cooled pectin solution to the acidic fruit, sugar and acid (lemon juice). The mixture will start to gel. Put it into jars and pop them in the freezer. They will last for a few months in the freezer and about 1-2 weeks when thawed. So if it’s your local growing season while you are reading this then go out and try your hand at freezer jam.