I love the idea of feeding my kids homemade bread with homemade jam for snacks. But I really don't like making jam the old fashioned way - cook it until it doesn't actually taste like fruit anymore, ladle it into sterilized jars, boil the canning lids, attach the lids and screw bands, boil it in the water bath canner. Ugh! A lot of work and cooked jam doesn't taste as fresh as I would like it to.
Then I discovered freezer jam. Not only is the preparation quick and easy, but the final product tastes like fresh berries, yum! It does take up space in your freezer, but it is absolutely worth it. It is so easy to make that I recently made four batches of strawberry freezer jam in about two hours. Let take you through it step by step.
Here is my big secret recipe for freezer jam:
Yes, you can see that correctly, it is the instructions from a package of Sure-Jell pectin! Really what I do is buy the pectin and follow the instructions inside. Pretty much all pectin will include a recipe for freezer jam in addition to instructions for cooked jam. Be sure to follow the instructions because each kind has you do it differently. In fact, this time I did two batches of regular Sure-Jell and two batches of low sugar Sure-Jell. Same brand, two different ways of making it. In general, though, the steps are pretty similar. First you mash your berries. Oh, be sure to wash and hull them first, duh. Then you mash them, I use my food processor but you have to be careful because you don't want a puree, you just want them mashed up (the instructions tell you that "jam has bits of fruit in it" as opposed to jelly which doesn't). Then you add the pectin and sugar. Sometimes you add the sugar to the berries and let it macerate (which is just a fancy way of saying the sugar will draw the liquid out of the berries causing it to break down which is good for the whole jam-making thing). Sometimes you add the sugar to the pectin with some water and boil it for a minute or so. After you have added to dissolved pectin and sugar to the berries you usually have to stir for a bit to make everything (especially the sugar) dissolve - you don't want grainy jam!
At some point it will look like this - a big bowl of very sweet strawberry soup! You ladle this into containers that are suitable for the freezer - I use margarine containers, they are cheap and it is recycling. You let the containers sit out on the counter for 24 hrs then put them in the freezer. Freezer jam is not as "solid" as cooked jam so it spreads easier but it also falls out of sandwiches easier so be careful. But the flavor is worth it. I usually do strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry every year, but the instructions have recipes for peach, blueberry/raspberry, and more. Experiment until you find your favorite. Enjoy!