Confession: I have never made a freezer jam. Never.
In my 6+ years of canning, I have not once made a jam that is no-cook, pop in the freezer. I skipped right over all that and went right to the hard stuff. People say it’s so simple for a beginner and its an easy way to get started canning, but for some reason I just didn’t even bother. I guess I like a challenge.
(Side note to all my fellow 80’s kids- remember Freezy Freakies? THEY’RE BACK bitches)
Freezy Freakies have nothing to do with this. At all. For some reason freezer jam just makes me think of them. Should I also mention how this is my first post since October?! So exciting to be back. Okay, sorry, got distracted. Anyway.
My whole foray into the world of freezer jam began on Friday afternoon. I had gotten all these beautiful cherries- about 16 lbs. worth- from Northwest Cherry Growers, and I was brainstorming what to do with them. The Washington State stone fruit is so gorgeous and fresh, it’s hard to decide what to make! Plus I was very tired. Being almost 17 weeks pregnant will do that, I find. I keep waiting for this burst of energy to come… and it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong: I feel good! Just low energy. But I digress.
In previous years, I’ve made: vanilla brandied peach jam, nectarine basil preserves, peach & pepper salsa, vanilla bean sliced peaches in syrup, a beautiful (and easy!) peach, bourbon & black walnut crostata, mint julep peaches, which were such a hit around here I’ve already had pre-requests for them if I get a batch of fresh peaches. I also made grilled peaches with ricotta cream & honey, which were also amazing and a great use for those peaches not suitable for canning (too many soft spots, overripe, not ripe enough, etc). The year before last there was a triple stone fruit crisp, spiced nectarine jam, nectarine & blackberry jam with purple ruffles basil, canned cherries in a light syrup, cherry preserves with jasmine green tea, mini-cherry pies made with Pimm’s No. 1 Cup and a cherry sauce I served with vanilla panna cotta. Then last year was sour cherry jam (I was lucky enough to get sour cherries last year!), and whole cherries in coconut syrup and a beautiful almond ricotta cake with fresh cherries and strawberries.
WHOA. Thats a lot of recipes.
But you’ll notice, no freezer jam.
Until this year.
Freezer jam is actually as easy as it sounds. There’s barely any cooking involved. The worst part with a cherry (or peach) version is pitting and chopping the stone fruit. That took me almost an hour total, and the jam took maybe 10-15 minutes tops. No kidding. And also I forgot to mention, this is a low-sugar jam. It uses low-sugar pectin and only 1 1/4 cups sugar in the entire thing.
CHERRY VANILLA FREEZER JAM (LOW SUGAR)
- 2 lbs. whole cherries (I used sweet cherries, if you’re using sour you’ll have to do a mix or up the sugar amount)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, set aside
- the insides of one vanilla bean, scraped
- 1/2 box SURE-JELL For Less or No-Sugar Needed Recipes Premium Fruit Pectin (or around 1 3/4 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup water
- Rinse clean your plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Do the same for freezer-safe jars. Set aside and dry thoroughly.
- Stem and pit cherries. Chop them finely. Measure the roughly 2 1/2 cups cherries into a large bowl.
- Mix sugar, vanilla, and pectin in a large saucepan. Stir in water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, while stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat. Add cherries; stir for 1 minute or until well blended.
- Fill all containers to within 1/2″ from the tops. Wipe rims and cover with lids/lids + bands. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.
And here’s the dilly; ANY Ball® or Kerr® jar with NO SHOULDERS is safe for freezing. Meaning wide mouth jars, or the 8-ounce or 4-ounce jars. Not the regular mouth pint jars. These Ball® Collection Elite jam jars didn’t technically have shoulders, so I figured they’d be okay. Also I knew once they were given away no one was keeping them frozen anyway. I used the remaining 4-ounces right away over ice cream instead of canning it (hence the thinner consistency).
This recipe makes four (4) 8-ounce jars, plus one 4-ounce jar. You CAN double it successfully, but do not triple it.
Now, if you’ve never ever canned anything ever, and you wanna try this- go for it. It’s easy, quick and has the benefit of immediate gratification. However if you want to skip this, and move on to a more complex “real” jam, then please… PLEASE… read this post first.
Otherwise… good luck and HAPPY SUMMER! I’M BACK!!
If you’re in the mood for canning, or if you, too, have been canning up a storm so far this summer (or you plan to be) add the Sweet Preservation “Of Course I Canned!” badge to your blog. Click here to view & save the file, then add it. Also be sure to visit SweetPreservation.com for recipes & FAQ’s.
Suggestions for use: Serve with toast/English muffins/etc, over ice cream, stirred into yogurt, or stirred into plain seltzer.
Soundtrack: Christina Aguilera – “Telepathy (feat. Nile Rodgers)”
Sources & credits: Ball® Collection Elite jam jars; freshpreserving.com, jar labels; Meri Meri, tea towel; Ikea.