When I started my
obsession love affair with canning last fall, I ignored all those who recommended making freezer jam. Jane Maynard, in particular, raved about the ease of the process and the freshness of the taste. But one look at my overflowing freezer, chock-full with impulse Trader Joe’s purchases, was enough to convince me that freezer jams were not for me.
Instead I took out my biggest stockpot, and made apple jelly the way my mom used to. The sweet smell of sugar and apples filled the kitchen and sent me traveling down memory lane. The resulting jelly was so delicious that I soon had to make a second batch. My husband who was skeptical at first, took to putting the jelly on everything from toast to chicken. He now has regular anxiety attacks that we are running out of jars of amber apple jelly and watches over my reserves like a hawk.
I didn’t give freezer jam another thought until a few weeks ago when I made another impulse purchase: a bushel of blushing peaches from my local farmer’s market. I lugged my find home as proudly as if I had grown and harvested the peaches by hand. They acted as a beautiful centerpiece on my kitchen table, heaped high in a weathered wooden crate while I figured out what to do with them. Then it hit me. I finally could get to the bottom of the freezer jam vs traditional jam debate.
I got to work, peeling and slicing peaches, gorging myself with sweet fruit as I worked. Then over a couple of days, I made peach jam, a lot of peach jam. I made freezer jam, and jam with Sure-Jell fruit pectin. And then, just because I had some peaches left over, I made some jam with Pomona Pectin.
Making freezer jam was definitely easy. With the Sure-Jell Freezer Pectin Mix, I didn’t even have to boil the fruit. Just sterilize the jars, peel and mash the fruit, add the pectin, lemon, and sugar, and pour into the jars. That’s it. With a fraction of the sugar and a fraction of the time, you’ll be able to stock your fridge with some bright jars of freezer jam. And it will be delicious, but it won’t be jam.
Freezer jam is delicious. It’s zesty and fresh, an explosion of summer fruit available long after the leaves are off the trees. I love freezer jam on a big slice of toasted brioche, on a sliver of midnight chocolate cake, or on a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream, but it’s not jam, not confiture. It should really be called freezer preserves, or some other catchier, more appetizing name like freezer fruit fantasy.
So the answer to the great freezer jam vs traditional jam debate is that there is no debate. You should make both, and can easily do so at one time. You’ll have days when you’re in the mood for the sparkly flavor of freezer jam and other days when you want the comfort of a special treat of traditional jam, something intensely sweet and fruity to jazz up boring toast or swirl into Greek yogurt.
Next time you’re grabbing some jam making supplies, grab a few extra so you can stock up in both your pantry and your freezer.
As I’m so new to freezer jam making, I won’t bother to share the recipe from the Sure-Jell box that I used. Instead, I’ll give you some links to some recipes on food blogs I enjoy: