Friday, May 4, 2012

Simple Living :: How to Make Freezer Jam

A few weeks ago, my good friend Kathe taught me how to make freezer jam. When she first mentioned making it, I was excited because I remembered my grandmother making jam when I was a child and I've always wanted to learn. Kathe told me we could have it all done in about 30 minutes, but I was sceptical because I just knew it was one of those hard-to-make things.

During my last grocery shopping trip, I passed down an aisle selling Sure Gel (fruit pectin), Ball plastic jars, and labels. After making the jam with Kathe, I decided to try my hand at it solo, so I bought enough supplies for one batch.

Last night, I thawed the strawberries we picked at McPeak's last month in preparation for this morning's easy freezer jam session.

In each package of Sure Gel there are precise and easy to understand instructions. Be sure to read these before beginning and decide if you are making jam or jelly.

For those who don't know, jam is has bits of fruit in it, while jelly does not and is made from the juice of the fruits. Today, I made strawberry jam.

You need to wash and dry all of the containers you will be storing your jam in as to prevent any contamination.

You will need one package of Sure Gel premium fruit pectin (they do sell a lower sugar version), 4 cups of sugar (depending on which type of fruit you use), 2 cups of pureed or mashed fruit (strawberries), approximately six 8 oz. containers, and labels if so desired.

Let's begin!

When I made this with Kathe, we had fresh strawberries and used a masher to get the desired consistency of the fruit. This morning, I tossed two cups of half-way thawed/frozen berries into our food processor and pulsed two to three times. Your measurements for making jam need to be precise.

In a separate bowl, I measured 4 cups of sugar. Then, I mixed the berries into the sugar and allowed them to sit for 10 minutes.

While I was waiting on the sugar to absorb all of the berry juice, I put the package of pectin and 3/4 cup of water on to boil. While bringing the pectin mix to boil, I stirred constantly. I allowed it to boil for 1 minute, while still stirring.

Next, I poured the pectin over the berry sugar mix and blended it all together. The Sure Gel directions say to mix for 3 minutes or until the sugar in completely dissolved and no longer grainy.

Once mixed, I used a measuring cup and added approximately 1 cup of jam to each of my Ball plastic jars. I did leave a little room for expansion. Before screwing the lid on, I wiped the rims of the jars. Kathe tells me this is a very important step! She has had experienced with jam jars that were not cleaned and can testify to their stickiness.

Be sure to label your containers to ensure freshness. Let your jam stand at room temperature for about 24 hours; after which, you may place them in the freezer. But, don't forget to leave one in the fridge!

Sure Gel recommends refrigerated jams have a shelf-life of about 3 weeks and those frozen can last up to a year.

My next jam session will be a pepper and cactus jam. My eldest son is a pepper belly and can't wait to try it!

Do you have any suggestions for making jam or jelly? Do you have a favorite?

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