How to make Freezer Jam

How to Make Freezer Jam. Such an easy technique with spectacular, fresh, delicious results!

If you have children who live at home, you might want to just click right past this post – unless, of course, you don’t mind spoiling your kids a bit, from time to time.

I started making this type of jam over 30 years ago as a young homemaker. To be honest, it was mostly because freezer jam is so quick and easy. I was quite intimidated by the whole “canning/water bath” thing that’s necessary for traditional jams and jellies and was terrified that I might not do things just right and end up poisoning someone. I also wasn’t crazy about the idea of slaving over a boiling pot of water on a hot summer day.

Besides being so easy, another bonus of the freezer jam method is that the fruit is not cooked (or barely cooked), unlike traditional jam. Because of that, it keeps it’s fresh taste and beautiful color. If you were to compare a jar of strawberry (or any other flavor) freezer jam and strawberry traditional jam, I think you’d be shocked at the difference. Regular jam becomes quite dull in color as it cooks, whereas freezer jam retains the same pretty color as the fresh berries you start with.

How to Make Freezer Jam. Such an easy technique with spectacular, fresh, delicious results!

That’s where the “spoiling” comes in. My kids got so used to eating delicious homemade freezer jam, that it didn’t take long before they were sticking up their little noses quite disdainfully, not only at store-bought jam, but also at every kind of jam or jelly, except for freezer jam. Their taste buds became quite accustomed to the fresh, fabulous taste.

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So if you want to spoil your kids/family/friends – for life; go ahead and start making freezer jam. I did want to give you fair warning though ……….

I’ve made a zillion different types of freezer jam over the years; strawberry, raspberry, peach, plum, fig, cherry, blackberry, currant, grape, lots of combinations like apricot-cherry or Fruits of the Forest, even freezer marmalades. This past week I found beautiful nectarines on sale at a local market and decided to add another variety to my freezer jam repertoire. I’ve learned a few tricks in my jam-making escapades that make the whole process quite simple and thought I’d share them with you in this How to Make Freezer Jam post.

How to Make Freezer Jam. Such an easy technique with spectacular, fresh, delicious results!

One of the main drawbacks to freezer jam is that, because it’s not cooked, it can be difficult to completely dissolve the sugar which gives the jam a “grainy/sugary” texture. With a bit of trial and error, I figured out that a short stint in the microwave will totally eliminate the problem, and yet the flavor is still fresh and the jam beautifully hued.

If you don’t have a ton of freezer space, freezer jam can be prepared and poured into quart-size ziplock bags. Squeeze out the air, seal the bags and stack them flat in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, just thaw then empty the contents of the bag into a jam/jelly jar.

How to Make Freezer Jam. Such an easy technique with spectacular, fresh, delicious results!

Pectin, a thickening agent is necessary for making freezer jam. Most fruits actually contain some of their own pectin, but not enough to give a good consistency. Pectin can be purchased either in powder or liquid form. I use both, though in this Nectarine Freezer Jam, I used the powdered version. Pectin can be quite expensive but, with experimentation, I learned that generic versions work as well as the big name brands and are usually much less expensive. I have had great results with the Kroger brand as well as other generic pectins.

Like I said earlier, the process is super simple. Combine fresh fruit and sugar in a large microwave-safe bowl. Stir for a minute then place in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir again and take a little taste. If the mixture is still a bit grainy, return to microwave for a couple more minutes. The pectin is then combined with water in a small sauce pan, brought to a boil and cooked for one minute before being added to the fruit/sugar mixture. A three minute stir (kids are great at helping with this) is all that’s needed before the jam’s ready to be  ladled into clean jars.

How to Make Freezer Jam. Such an easy technique with spectacular, fresh, delicious results!

Even if you’ve never made jam before and don’t feel like one of those old-fashioned super cooks, I promise, you can do this!  You really can; and your family/friends will be quite thrilled with you. And when those cold winds blow next winter and you pull out a jar of jam as fresh as a summer day, well let’s just say you’ll be thanking yourself over and over! A pat on the back just might be in order too!

How to Make Freezer Jam. Such an easy technique with spectacular, fresh, delicious results!

Tips on How to Make Freezer Jam:

  • Measure carefully, jam making is an exact process and if you don’t measure correctly, you’ll have unsuccessful results.
  • Don’t try to double the recipe, instead make two separate batches. I often make two batches at the same time in two separate bowls.
  • Use ripe fruit, not over ripe and not under ripe for best results.
  • Have fruit at room temperature when starting to make jam.
  • Crush or dice fruit, don’t use a food processor, jam should have bits of fruit in it. Using the food processor makes jam a bit foamy too.
  • You can use either liquid or powdered pectin, just be sure to follow the measurements on the package insert for fruit/sugar ratio (and if using powdered pectin, for the correct amount of water).
  • The directions will usually say to “thoroughly mix the fruit and sugar, wait 10 minutes, add the pectin and then stir for 3 minutes”. I have found that this method often produces grainy results, as the sugar does not thoroughly dissolve. I mix the sugar and fruit well in a large microwave-safe bowl, then place the bowl in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes. This bit of heat really helps dissolve the sugar, without taking away the fresh fruit flavor or color. I then proceed with adding the pectin according to package insert directions.
  • If using glass or plastic jars, be sure to leave about 1/2 inch space at the top to allow for expansion in the freezer.
  • wide mouth funnel works well for filling the jars.
  • Jam will keep in the freezer for up to a year and 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.

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Nectarine Freezer Jam

How to Make Freezer Jam. Such an easy technique with spectacular, fresh delicious results!

4.9 from 12 reviews

Super easy, fresh, delicious jam that can be made in less than 30 minutes.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: Makes 5 cups of jam
  • Category: Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups chopped, fresh unpeeled nectarines, stones removed (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 box powdered fruit pectin (I used Kroger Can-Jel, but any kind of pectin is fine. If you use a different brand however, be sure to use the fruit/sugar ratio and the amount of water that’s recommended for that brand on the package insert. Each brand is a little different)
  • 3/4 cups water

Instructions

  1. Measure sugar into a large microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Measure fruit into a separate medium size bowl.
  3. Add fruit and lemon juice to sugar and stir thoroughly.
  4. Place bowl in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir well for 1 minute. Take a tiny taste. If fruit mixture still has a grainy consistency, return to microwave for another 2 minutes, then stir well.
  5. Combine water and powdered pectin in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for one minute, stirring constantly.
  6. Stir pectin mixture into fruit mixture. Stir for 3 minutes. (Kids love to help with this part. I used to set a timer and let my kids stir, stir, stir.)
  7. Ladle into clean jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours, then store in freezer for up to a year or in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks

Notes

My powdered pectin box insert didn’t have directions for nectarine jam so I followed the instructions for peach jam instead. I didn’t peel the nectarines as their skins are so much thinner than peaches and I like the flecks of beautiful red color.



66 thoughts on “How to make Freezer Jam”

  • I bought beautiful black figs. I want to make freezer jam. I can’t find a recipe that calls for dry pectin only liquid. Any help would be greatly appreciated !

  • I’m always a illite nervous about using jars for freezing jams so I use plastic,do the jars have to be sterilized and lids boled sealed for this kind of jam or can I use either plastic or jars and no boiling safety is required. I thought any time you use heat the product must be sealed with sterile jars and lids.

    If you can knock that paranoia I’ve had please and explain. Your jam looks absolutely beautiful

  • Thanks for all your wonderful tips. I made the strawberry freezer jam and boy is it delish and as per your comment a beautiful rich red color. I do have a question though is it normal for the fruit to rise to the top of the jars as that is what happened with mine.

  • I am concerned about 5 cups of sugar when using beautiful ripe and naturally sweet fruit. Can that be cut down? It just sounds too sweet.

    • No! Don’t cut down the sugar. There are lots of recipes out there for low sugar jam. Jam and jelly making is a very exact science and you really have to follow the instructions to a T or you won’t have good results. You only use a teaspoon or so of jam at a time to you don’t get a lot of sugar. You do get an incredibly fresh fruit taste though.

  • I always make freezer jam but I have a question. Two jars were inadvertently put in the refrigerator after they were frozen. They are now thawed, can I put them back in the freezer? They are good sized jars and there is no way we can eat them in a month. It is wild black raspberry.

    Ginny

  • I am so excited to make this jam! Question: I don’t have a microwave. Would it be okay to slowly heat the fruit & sugar on the stove until the sugar dissolved? Then add the heated pectin? Thanks so much, beautiful photos!

    • Hi Maria,

      I’ve used all kinds of jars with success. Just be sure not to fill them too full, leave a half inch or so space to allow for expansion in the freezer. Otherwise your jars will crack. I’ve never had that happen but I always leave a little space at the top. Hope you enjoy it!

  • I just picked a super amount of purple plucots and want to get started with making freezer jam. However, I’m really confused about the skins. Do I remove them? If not do they get soft and mix well with the rest of the jam?

    I can’t wait to get started!

  • Have been making freezer jam forever. This is the first time the sugar didn’t dissolve. It was already in jars when I discovered it hadn’t dissolved well. Anything I can do at this point to reduce grainy texture and still save the jam?

  • Question: Has anyone used turbinado or raw sugar in this process? It may add a bit of caramel flavor, that I think would be quite tasty peach, plum & nectarine jams. What do you think?

    • Hi Sandy,

      I would just be concerned about that type of sugar (turbinado or demera) not dissolving well since the jam is only briefly heated in the microwave. If you were wanting a caramely flavor, it might work better to melt a bit of the sugar before adding it to the fruit. Just a thought although I’ve never tried that.

      • Thank you for the quick reply. I was thinking the same thing about pre- melting. I have grandchildren that rarely have any white sugar. Organic, gluten free house holds and I have bunch of japanese plums ripening.

  • Keep up the good jam! Today’s jams and jellies have high fructose corn syrup and don’t taste as good (right, grandkids?). But it looks like freezer jam is an *easy* way to make good tasting jam! I got a sour batch of apricots, so let me know of an apricot freezer jam recipe!

  • Hi! I know this is an older post, but thank you! I love freezer jams and just got a huge amount of plums from the market here. I have a pot of this on the stove right now and will work on more tomorrow. I know my husband and children are going to love this!

  • I have been making freezer jams for years. Now my current problem. I just finished crushing 1 cup of berries and ran out. However I do have some in the freezer. Can I thaw them to make freezer jam? Or should they just so into the ‘frig?

  • I am not a fan of cinnamon, but a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon in any red plum jam just seems to bring out a depth of flavor that is beyond words! I also tried a dash or two of nutmeg once, and now it’s a must (with the red plum jam, anyways!)

  • Nectarine jam sounds heavenly and it is beautiful. As soon as I make the blueberry jam I’ve been promising the Mr. this is next on my list.

  • Hi Chris,

    I just love this website and visit often. I love the idea of freezer jam, and am confident that I can do it. One question though (okay, two) I love smuckers reduced sugar jams and want something along those lines, not too sweet, can I reduce the sugar in the recipe, if so by how much would you recommend? Also, won’t glass jars crack in the freezer?

    Thsnks again for the recipe!!!

    • Hi Renee,

      Thanks so much, I appreciate your kind words.

      As far as your questions go, don’t try to reduce the amount of sugar with this recipe (using regular pectin). There is a type of pectin though called “pectin for low sugar jams and jellies”. Look for that one and follow the directions carefully. Jam making can be kind of fussy in that if your measurements aren’t super accurate, the end results probably won’t turn out. I’ve never tried to low sugar variety but I’ve heard that it works just fine.

      As for your second question, a lot of people have that same misconception. Glass will freeze just fine. You just have to make certain to leave 1/2 inch of space at the top to allow for expansion of the jam in the freezer. If you fill the jars to the top, put the lids on and freeze them, you will probably end up with cracked glass. I’ve been making this kind of jam for over 30 years and never had a glass crack.

      Happy jam making and thanks again, Chris

  • Hi Chris, love the way freezer jam looks, have always made it the traditional way.Will be trying your method, as I like the sound of a fresher tasting jam. Thanks, another great recipe!

  • I love the idea of freezer jam!! Ever since I gifted my son’s 2nd grade teacher a jar of homemade strawberry jam that had turned moldy, I’ve never canned jam again. I make a small batch version from whatever fruit is fresh, but with freezer jam, I could preserve the season longer without worrying about giving moldy jam!! (Beautiful photos btw….!! )

  • Chris this sounds great. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but I made your strawbeerry freezer jam and loved it. I’d forgotten about it and will have to make these again.

    However, why not use superfine sugar? That dissolves so quickly I wouldn’t think you’d have an issue with a grainy texture.

  • I have made jam before and I don’t like the whole boiling and canning thing much either. I am definitely putting this freezer jam on my to-do list. Love the idea of not having to cook it much and having a fresh tasting homemade jam, and knowing what all the ingredients in it are!

  • Beautiful jam! Don’t you love being able to pull a little bit of summer out of your freezer? My kids still ask me to send them homemade jam- they’re never too old to spoil. 🙂

  • What vibrant jam….beautiful! I have made strawberry freezer jam but have never branched out to other fruits….guess it is time to just do it!

  • I was wondering if anyone has tried it using sugar substitute? Your pictures are beautiful and your recipes look delicious. Thanks

    • Hi Kim, I definitely wouldn’t try using a sugar substitute with the regular pectin but there is a low sugar and a sugar-free variety. Just follow the package insert directions.

    • Hi Denise,
      The jam can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. I would let it thaw before using but that doesn’t take long. I usually just let it sit out for about 20 minutes and it’s good to go! If I’m in a big hurry, I’ve also thawed it on 10% power in the microwave.

  • Chris: What a sensational recipe. I have never heard about freezer jams. This recipe is a keeper… and I will have to try to make this here. My family will be happy to have something so fresh and delicious to spread on toast and at the same time doesn’t take long to be cooked.

  • Absolutely gorgeous Chris! Such beautiful color and I”m a fan of using the skins too. While I’ve canned a lot of jams I’ve only made freezer jam once, might give it a try:@)
    PS-When you buy pectin do you buy the one specifically for freezer jam or the regular one?

  • Dear Chris, you are so right about making homemade jam and “spoiling” everyone´s taste buds so much, they do not want to eat anything else but homemade jam – I have never tried making any freezer jam though.. You certainly make this type of jam sound and look incredibly easy and utterly delicious – I adore the color of your nectarine freezer jam – it looks out of this world delicious!
    Hope you and your family had a wonderful fourth of July!
    Andrea

  • I’ve always wanted to make jam, but have been intimated by the process too- definitely have to try this out when I feel like making jam!! 🙂 The colour looks so vibrant too!

  • I have made this jam for many years. Recently I have added some sliced almonds and a bit of almond extract and this is an amazing combination!

  • I was going to get a few flats of strawberries this week for jam – the traditional way but after looking at this, I think I know where I’m headed! I think people around here need to be spoiled.

  • Looking forward to making some summer jam…I usually go ‘Old School’ when it comes to cooking but jams are the one thing I like to make shortcuts. Ball makes a quick pectin that I use for certain fruits except blueberries. It works well and uses a lot less sugar.
    As for your recipe, do you use regular pectin?
    Many thanks and I adore your Blog and the recipes..

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