Once you try this delicious, super fresh-tasting, Strawberry Freezer Jam, you’ll be spoiled for life. I call it “springtime in a jar”! It’s like a little dollop of heaven on toast, biscuits, scones, ice cream, yogurt…
I posted this recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam back in 2012 shortly after starting the blog but recently realized that it’s now deeply buried in the Café archives (over 1100 recipes!) and is way too good to be forgotten! My freezer is fully re-stocked with glistening jars of this wonderful jam and I thought you might want to make some too – before the fleeting local strawberry season disappears!
Spring has definitely sprung here in the mountains of North Carolina and we’re quickly approaching summer. The days are warm, sunny and gorgeous with lovely blooms and trees now fully dressed in vibrant green.
One of my favorite aspects of this lovely time of year is enjoying the short, but gloriously delicious season of local strawberries. One bite of a deep red, juicy strawberry, picked just hours before, makes you realize that the store-bought variety you’ve been eating for the past few months… well, perhaps they weren’t really strawberries, after all.
I love to capture this delightful time of year with this delicious Strawberry Freezer Jam. And when those short, dreary winter days roll around (always too soon), all I have to do is pull out a jar of this crimson sunshine and I’m instantly transported to warmer days. Because freezer jam isn’t simmered on the stovetop, it explodes with fresh, vibrant flavor and color.
If you’ve never made jam before, this Strawberry Freezer Jam is a wonderful place to start as it’s super easy and doesn’t require any canning knowledge. There’s no water bath, canning pots or sealing techniques involved (as in traditional jam-making methods). Simply stir together the jam (instructions below) and ladle it into clean glass jars or plastic storage containers. Pop the jars in the freezer and you’re done, it’s really that simple.
Drawbacks to making freezer jam?
These are the two potential problems with freezer jam:
- A grainy consistency. Because it’s not cooked as traditional jam is, it can be difficult to dissolve all of the sugar. If the sugar’s not completely dissolved the finished jam can have a “grainy” or “sandy” consistency.
- The jam doesn’t “set” (thicken) properly. It’s frustrating to go through all the trouble of making jam and end up with it not setting.
How to make freezer jam that’s not grainy
I’ve been making freezer jam for as long as I can remember and, over the years, I’ve developed a few simple steps to overcome this “grainy” problem:
- A short stint in the microwave will help dissolve a lot of the sugar without actually cooking the mixture and dulling the flavor and color.
- Be sure to stir the jam well. Don’t cheat on the stirring time both before and after the pectin is added. I like to actually set a timer to make sure I’m stirring for the full instructed time. This is a great project to give to your kids. They’ll enjoy being part of the process and will be so proud when they see the beautiful jars of jam lined up on the counter.
- Don’t follow the instructions on the pectin packet. The jam is supposed to be ready for ladling into jars in 20 minutes. It takes longer than this for the sugar to dissolve into the berry mixture. (Lots of it is hands-off time though, when you can be doing something else.)
How to make sure jam thickens
- This problem can occur with traditional jams and jellies to but seems to be more prevalent with freezer jam. However, the same little tricks (see above) that I use to combat graininess will also ensure that the jam “sets” properly. When the sugar is well dissolved the jam will thicken when combined with the pectin.
- Don’t cheat on the measurements. Unlike other types of cooking, jam making is an exact science and proportions of fruit to sugar are important. So measure your ingredients carefully. Don’t add extra berries just because you have them. Use the extra berries for snacking or make an ice cream topping but don’t throw them in the jam bowl.
- Check the date on the pectin box. Pectin can get old and lose its oomph. If your pectin is expired, discard it.
- Be sure to use all of the liquid pectin. I use Certo pectin. It comes in a box with two packets inside. It’s important to squeeze all of the pectin from the packet. I like to roll it up as I squeeze it out to make sure I get every last drop.
- Every now and then, even though you follow all the rules, your jam might not thicken. The makers of Sure-Jell pectin are aware of this so give a few steps to fix this problem.
One of our very favorite ways to enjoy this Strawberry Freezer Jam is on these Ridiculously Easy Buttermilk Biscuits. If you haven’t tried them, you’re really missing out on something WONDERFUL. But don’t believe me, check out all the 5-star reviews!
Café Tips for making this Strawberry Freezer Jam
- Be sure to note tips above regarding problems with graininess and jam not setting.
- Although there’s very little hands-on time when making this Strawberry Freezer Jam, make it on a day when you’re going to be around the house. You’ll need to give it a stir every now and then to help dissolve the sugar.
- Certo is a liquid fruit pectin which helps thicken the jam. Certo can usually be found in the same section of the grocery store as canning jars and storage containers. If you can’t find it, just ask at the front desk and someone can direct you to the right section of the store.
- Check the label on the Certo before buying to make sure it’s not expired. It can lose it’s thickening properties if it’s old.
- Don’t skip the lemon juice. Lemon juice has lots of natural pectin which helps in combination with the Certo to thicken the jam.
- Some people are concerned about freezing jam in glass jars. I’ve been doing this for over 40 year and have never had a jar break. You do want to make sure however that you leave about a half inch of space at the top of each jar to allow for expansion when the jam freezes.
- You can also use plastic storage containers if desired.
- This jam is fine at room temperature for a few hours but store in the refrigerator or freezer when not being used.
- If gifting this Strawberry Freezer Jam let the recipient know that this jam should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer when not being used.
- The jam won’t set completely right away, hence the instructions to allow it to sit on the counter for 24 hours. Plus, I love the look of beautiful, vibrant red jam stacked up on my kitchen counter – call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about it that makes me smile!
- I love these Weck Jars. They make lovely gifts and a pretty presentation when serving this Strawberry Freezer Jam.
If you’ve never made Strawberry Freezer Jam you REALY need to try this recipe – I promise you won’t be disappointed!
- 4 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 quart about, see exact measurement below fresh strawberries
- 1 pouch liquid fruit pectin I use Certo which is readily available at most larger supermarkets.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Wash and rinse glass jars (or plastic containers) and lids in the dishwasher or with hot soapy water. Dry thoroughly.
Stem and crush strawberries. Don't try to use a blender or food processor for this step as you want some small pieces of strawberry to remain. (I like to use a potato masher).
Measure exactly 2 cups prepared fruit into a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the 4 cups of sugar and stir well for 1 minute.
Place the bowl in the microwave on high power for 3 minutes. (Mixture will not cook but will become warm enough for sugar to dissolve). Remove from microwave and stir well for another minute.
Allow strawberry mixture to sit for 2 hours, giving it a good stir 4-5 times.
Combine the liquid pectin and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add to strawberry mixture; stir 3 minutes. Take a taste to make sure the sugar is dissolved. If it still tastes a bit grainy stir for another minute or two until sugar is well-dissolved.
Fill containers to within 1/2 inch of top- don't fill any higher as mixture will expand a bit in the freezer.
Wipe off top edges of containers and cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours.
Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator.
See Café Tips above for more detailed instructions and more tips.
Recipe adapted from Kraft
Recipe makes 5 cups of jam.