Homemade. To some, that sounds scary. Add to that Homemade Freezer Jam and it sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? No! It is one of the easiest homemade recipes to successfully complete and you can do it too!
All you need is fresh fruit, sugar, and Sure-Jell Pectin.
What is pectin? It is a derivitive from natural fruits, mostly apples, I believe, that allows your jam to gel together and set. It is NOT the same as gelatin. You can get a variety of pectins from the grocery store or Walmart, but I prefer Sure-Jell Premium Pectin (in the yellow box). I have had problems with the Certo Liquid Pectin, but rarely have problems with the yellow box.
Every box of Sure-Jell comes with instructions for a variety of freezer jams and cooked jams and jellies. Start with the freezer jams. They are easier and taste more like fresh fruit than the cooked ones. For one batch of strawberry jam, you'll need 1 1/2 lbs. strawberries, 4 cups sugar, and 1 box of pectin, plus containers to put your jam in. These can be pint-sized canning jars with lids and rims or just old sour cream containers. Whatever you have. But they should not be large because the jams may not set as well in a large container. And it has to be able to go in the freezer.
Follow the instructions that come with the pectin. But here are some tips. You do need to be accurate in your measurements. A scant cup of sugar is not the same as a level cup of sugar. Make sure you are getting level cups. Same with the fruit. Don't just guess-timate. Measure. Let the sugar and fruit combo sit for at LEAST 10 minutes, stirring frequently to get the sugar to dissolve. If the sugar isn't mostly dissolved before you add the pectin, it isn't going to be completely dissolved AFTER you add the pectin. And finally, make sure you boil that pectin for 1 minute. Follow the instructions, they are there for a reason.
That being said, there are a few tricks that I've learned that go AGAINST the instructions. First, you CAN use frozen fruit when you are making combination jams. If you're making plain strawberry, you must use fresh strawberries. But if you're making strawberry-mango, you can use frozen mangos with fresh strawberries. Or with raspberry-peach, you can use frozen raspberries with fresh peaches. Same with blueberry-peach, you can use frozen blueberries.
Second, you can double the recipe. Tripling it causes more non-sets. But doubling generallly works and saves you time. Just make sure your bowls are big enough.
Third, even though it says the batch makes so many cups, every time I find I end up with more jam than it says.
And lastly, play around with the recipes! If you notice on the instructions, there is not a recipe for strawberry-mango OR blueberry-peach. But I adjusted things here and there to create my recipes for those flavors and they've turned out beautifully.
If you do have a batch that doesn't set, it is easy to fix. Just dump all the jams back into a large bowl and add one cup of sugar. Stir well and let sit another 10 minutes to dissolve. Prepare another box of pectin like you did the first one and add it to the jam. Stir well and pour into jars again. It should set just fine. If, however, it doesn't, jam is a great topping for pancakes, waffles, french toast, and ice cream!
Now all you need to do is run out to the store and get your supplies and get making some jam! While you wait for it to set up, whip up some homemade bread to go with it and you can consider dinner made.