I am in total disbelief that it is Friday again. Wow! I am not a big fan of releasing posts on Friday because I realize that although I may not have a life, many of you do and do not spend as much time on the computer as I do once the weekend rolls around. But, here I am writing this anyway since
I goofed I was too busy to get this done yesterday!
This article, however, might just make your weekend because it is all about making one of the easiest home canning items that you can possibly imagine…freezer jams! I know you will want this incredibly valuable information before all of these wonderful fruits are gone this Summer. So, I say get to reading and then head off to the Farmers’ Market, stop by Walmart and get yourself some canning supplies and get jammin’ (thanks, Bob Marley!) in your kitchen this weekend!
Just in case you are not familiar with freezer jams, these jams are prepared by mixing fresh fruit with sugar and pectin. Depending on the type of fruit and the brand of pectin, you may or may not need to cook it for a few minutes. You then fill your jars (no sterilizing needed) and pop the jars full of your homemade jam into your freezer and it will last for one year! To quote Ina Garten, “How easy is that?”.
You might remember my Strawberry Freezer Jam from May (and if not, you can click on the link). That was Mr. Bunkycooks favorite back then because it tasted just like a fresh strawberry (and of course, we can now not purchase any strawberry jam at the store because homemade is so much better and tastes like real fruit)! Then came the blueberry freezer jam made
by yours truly, the blueberry thief from berries picked at River Road Farms. Suddenly, this was the new favorite of Mr. Bunkycooks and nothing would do but putting up more blueberry jam in the freezer!
Naturally, I couldn’t stop there, so I made blackberry jam too (also from fresh berries at River Road Farms). This particular one was a bit sweeter (they were really sweet blackberries!) and Mr. Bunkycooks is not a fan of the seeds (even though I strained some), so this was third in the food chain as far as jam rankings go at the Bunkycooks house.
Well, sakes alive! I did not stop at the blackberries and thank goodness I didn’t because I have finally hit the perfect and most incredibly delicious freezer jam! It is fresh South Carolina Peach Freezer Jam! If you want to think you are eating a fresh Summer peach come February when
you are freezing your butt off it is snowing outside, you need to get going and make this jam this weekend!
I will tell you what I have found out about this whole jammin’ thing after making about 100 jars of several varieties this Summer!
First of all, there are several brands of pectin and I have purchased three of them. The first one I bought and actually did not use was the yellow box of Sure-Jell Pectin. This one is good for making cooked jam and jellies that you need to can the proper way with a canner. It can also be used for freezer jams, but requires between four to seven cups of sugar per batch (depending on the fruit). That’s enough sugar to put oneself into a coma, so I did not use that stuff.
I then purchased the pink box of Sure-Jell Pectin, which is what I used to make strawberry, blueberry and blackberry jams. This jam is for us normal folks who do not like and do not need the over the top sugar taste. You can also use a sugar substitute (like Splenda) when using this pectin. Again, this pectin will work for the
troublesome more time consuming cooked jams and jellies or freezer jam. The recipes (that come in the little pink box) require between two and a half cups to three cups of sugar to make jam! That’s waaay less sugar and jam made with this pectin has a lovely fresh fruit taste!
We really enjoy the flavor of the fruit, so this was my choice for all of my jams until I tried the Ball Instant Fruit Pectin (the little green bag)! This pectin is used just for making freezer jams and it only requires one and a half cups of sugar! And when faced with twenty-five pounds of peaches to put up and can, that would be a whole lotta sugar if I were using the other pectin! Besides that, this really is our favorite (just because it’s the latest in the jam expedition…). This jam tastes just like a fresh, local, juicy Summer peach plopped right down on a big ole hunk of buttered toast! It doesn’t get much better than that (or else I have totally lost touch with reality!).
Although freezer jams do not require the same cumbersome steps and sterilization methods as regular jams, I still would suggest that you wash your cute little crystal quilted 8-ounce Ball freezer jam jars in either hot soapy water or your dishwasher right before using them. Be sure to also wash the lids and rims in hot soapy water and dry them right before using. You cannot re-use the lids again as the seal will not work the second time around, but of course, they sell packages of replacement lids.
Just in case you don’t know, do not use any fruit that has been compromised in any way (like little critters nibbling on your fruit while on the tree). It is not worth the risk of contamination just to save a peach or two. Of course, I don’t have fruit trees to have critters nibbling at my fruit, but I thought I would mention that since some of you do!
Here is a recipe for the Bunkycooks latest and new favorite – South Carolina Peach Freezer Jam! Just so you know, there is one added step in this recipe that used to be on the little green bag of Ball’s Instant Fruit Pectin. They removed this step on the newer bags, but I say do it. Bring the peaches to a boil first (and this only applies to peaches). It will make your jam set up thicker. Now you be jammin’ mon! Have great weekend!
South Carolina Peach Freezer Jam
Makes 5 to 6 8-ounce jars
4 cups of ripe, fresh crushed peaches (that have been peeled and pitted)
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 package (1.59 ounces) of Ball Instant Fruit Pectin
Bring your peaches to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Gradually stir in bag of pectin (be sure not to get clumps). Once the pectin is combined, stir the mixture constantly for three minutes. Ladle into clean jam jars, seal with lids and rims. Let stand for 30 minutes.
You can enjoy immediately or place in the freezer. The jam will be good for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long!) or it will last up to one year in the freezer.