Once you’ve eaten freezer jam, you’ll never go back. The color is spectacularly red and sparkling, but the flavor is unbelievable. Smearing some strawberry freezer jam (or preserves) on a scone, on Christmas morning, is the best Christmas gift you can give yourself or your family. Make room in your freezer….This is particularly true with either strawberry or raspberry preserves. To be completely honest, I like to use freezer jam over ice cream or as a sauce for brownies or with a spoon, right out of the jar. Of course, the perfect time to make freezer jam is when strawberries are in season, but some of us don’t live where strawberries are in season…ever. So, we have to go to Plan B. We purchase the best strawberries we can from our local supermarket. Admittedly, this is not optimum. The Goddess is very aware of this. But, The Eldest Progeny loves strawberry freezer jam, and sometimes one does what one can for those we love. We haven’t always lived where pectin was available. So Plan B, is supermarket strawberries and strawberry-flavored gelatin, for extra flavor. Okay, don’t freak out on The Goddess. Strawberry, as an artificial flavor, is quite good. Plus, the gelatin helps keep the crystallization to a minimum. To thicken, we use xanthan gum. Xanthan gum works incredibly well, as a thickening agent, and it too, minimizes crystallization. A couple of warnings with xanthan gum: To use xanthan gum successfully, you must combine it with the sugar. Because, otherwise you’ll get clumps. Not good. Not palatable. Also, if you happen to spill some (you know it happens), DO NOT use a wet cloth to wipe up the spill. You’ll end up with a gummy mess and it will be twice as bad. Brush the spilled xanthan gum off the counter, then wipe the counter, when there’s only a mere blush of it left…just dust, really.
Having said all this, you can purchase special pectin for freezer jam here. There are several brands out there. You can also use regular pectin, but I find that the final product is way too sweet for The Goddess’s buds. As you know, The Goddess thinks it’s important to be flexible. There are those who would just rather not make jam unless the fruit is perfect. In a perfect world, I would agree. But, I don’t know about you, but my world, while wonderful, isn’t perfect…so Plan B it is.
This takes time, but is very simple to prepare. There’s a lot of stirring and standing, stirring and standing, etc., but you can absolutely vacuum, read a book, bake a cake, etc. while you make the jam.
It’s pretty much diced up berries, part of the sugar, lemon juice, the salt and the strawberry gelatin. Stir that all together, and walk away for about 5 minutes. Stir again. I do this for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes….
you’ll notice the berries are starting to juice up. Using a potato masher, smash the berries. Avoid going at with too much gusto, or there will be juice everywhere.
Stir together the remaining sugar, and xanthan gum. Slowly add the sugar/gum mixture, stirring constantly for about a minute or two. You’re adding this V-E-R-Y slowly! Let stand for about an hour. Give it a good stir; it should be quite thick and jam-like. Pour into jars, seal and place the jars in the freezer. I usually put on jar in the fridge for immediate use. As a reward for all that stirring! Just look at what you accomplished! Yum!
Out-of-Season Strawberry Freezer Jam (without Pectin)
- 7 cups diced strawberries (see NOTE)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 5 teaspoons strawberry-flavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup fine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
Place the strawberries, lemon juice, gelatin, 1/2 cup sugar and kosher salt in a bowl (I use an 8-cup glass measuring cup). Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Let the mixture stand for at least one hour, stirring once or twice during the time. The mixture will produce quite a bit of liquid; this is what we want. Take a potato masher to the strawberry mixture to break the strawberries down.
While the strawberries macerate, in a separate bowl combine the remaining sugar and xanthan gum. Stir until completely combined. After the strawberries set for awhile and you’ve mashed them up, sprinkle the sugar mixture very, very slowly into the strawberries, stirring constantly. This should take you about two minutes. Set a timer. The mixture will thicken additionally as it stands. Let it stand for at least 60 minutes.
Stir and pour into sterilized canning jars or clean plastic containers. I usually use 8 or 16-ounce containers. Place in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months.
NOTE: This works extremely well with frozen strawberries. Remove from the freezer, leaving on the counter until about 80 percent thawed. Add the lemon juice and mash the berries, to the desired consistency. Combine the gelatin, sugar, xanthan gum and salt in a small bowl; stir until completely combined. Slowly sprinkle the mixture over the strawberries, stirring constantly until it’s all incorporated; this takes about 2 minutes. Let stand for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue with the recipe.
Out-of-Season Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2021. All rights reserved.