Friday, June 17, 2011

My New-Found Love: Freezer Jam!

I was checking my Facebook the other day, probably one time too many (does anyone else find themselves spending WAY to much time on there?) .. when I came across a link from my local farmer's market singing the praises of freezer jam.

 I had never even heard of it before. You can make jam that goes in the...freezer?!  When I think of making jam or jelly, images of a hot sweaty kitchen filled with steam and the smells of sugar and fruit pop into my head; along with a rosy-cheeked, buxom lady standing over a huge water bath pan, lifting gleaming jars out of boiling water.  (I helped my mom make jam and can peaches as a child. I loved it!  To a 8 year old girl, nothing is better than scooping off the froth from cooking blackberries, knowing that when it cools, it is all yours to enjoy.)
Now as romantic as that may seem, one of the last things I want to do in the summertime is make my kitchen any warmer than it already gets! The "lovely"  summer weather has already broken 100 degrees several times here.
So, when I heard about freezer jam; images of frosty jars filled with delectable jam lined up in the icebox just waiting to be spooned on top of ice cream or on a crusty, flaky roll was way more up my alley.

My perfect opportunity to try my hand at making freezer jam came to me today. Today, there was a one-day sale at Whole Foods Market on organic blueberries. I always try to buy my berries organic because they're recipients of one of the highest concentration of pesticides, since all of the birds and bugs love berries too. I don't like feeding my family all that nasty stuff, so we go organic whenever possible.
Anyways, we brought home a flat of blueberries, and after freezing 8 pints, I decided to make some jam with part of the rest. I used 2 1/2 pints to make my jam, and it made 7- 8 ounce jars. 
This is the box they came in- isn't it cool! Love the kinda retro font.

I was going to use the recipe I found here on this girl's blog but luckily I looked at the directions on my pectin jar, because I unknowingly bought instant pectin instead of regular old pectin. This meant that I didn't even have to turn on the stove to mix the pectin with water to activate it, I could just mix it in the bowl with the sugar and fruit! I was overjoyed- what I thought was going to be easy, turned out to be even easier!
Here is what the jars and pectin look like..
How cute is the design on the top?  Its swirly and twirly, in cause you can't see- this picture isn't the clearest.

So here is my modified version of how to make freezer jam:

( Disclaimer : obviously if you don't buy instant pectin you have to make it the other way, so check the label on the pectin to make sure you get the right kind! Also make sure to buy jars and pectin that say "for freezer jam" or "freezer safe" on them. Otherwise you might end up with broken glass in your freezer and no one wants that.)
This recipe makes 7 cups
2 1/2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed 
5 1/4 cups sugar (it seems like a lot but it helps the jam set properly)
 instant freezer jam pectin (you use 2 TBSP per 2 8-oz jars that you're going to make. check the label to make sure.)
 7 clean 8-oz canning jars and corresponding lids and rings

 ~Pour your blueberries into a large bowl. Mash them with a potato masher, or pulse in a food processor until smashed up, but leave some lumps in there. 
After the smashing is complete.

~In another bowl, mix the sugar and pectin together, then add to the blueberries. ( I actually didn't read this part...and just plopped everything together in the bowl all at once. I don't think it really made a difference.)
look at all that yummy sugar!! 

~Stir for 3 minutes.
Which I thought really said...
~Let set for 3 minutes.
Nope. It said stir for 3 minutes. So we'll see if my jam actually sets or not. Regardless, its delicious. I tried it.

~Ladle into clean jars, leaving 1/2 in. space at the top for expansion in the freezer.
so pretty...

~ Wipe the rims of the jars clean, put the lids on and let sit for 30 minutes.
turns out that pouring jam into jars is gloppy and kinda messy. See the towel I put underneath? I remember my mom doing that to help with the sticky counter factor.
My jars came with these cute little labels. At first I  put one on the top of the jar.

Then I realized they were for the sides of the know, like the fancy 7 dollar a cup jam you get at the gift shops?  How cute is that? Love it!
~Put your jam in the freezer!

~This keeps for up to a year in the freezer, or a couple weeks in the fridge. It will go bad if left out of the fridge/freezer because you didn't cook it, so keep it cool!  

Did I mention this all only took about 20 minutes? Yep. that's all.  You'll have enough time to get the jam made during  the kids' nap time and still have time to do whatever else you want.

I tasted a bit as I was pouring it into the jars- its really really yummy. Tastes so fresh, because it is! 
I really want to try making some with peaches from a local orchard. 
If you make freezer jam, I'd love to hear from you and maybe get a recipe or two from you! 

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