For more home preservation instructions, check out my posts Cranberry Orange Marmalade and How to Store Your Home Canned Foods.
Making Jam and Jelly from Frozen Fruit
During the dog days of summer it can be difficult to preserve all of our fruits and vegetables. Hot days make the thought of stirring a boiling pot of jam and canning it almost unbearable. You can make freezer jams, use the fruit fresh, or you can peel, chop, and freeze it for winter use.
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Why not make jam during the fall or winter, when the weather has cooled down? Those frozen berries, peaches, and plums will make delicious jams and jellies and you don’t have to overheat the house in the process!
Freezing Fruit for Later
When you are ready to freeze your summer fruits, follow these instructions to make your fall and winter jam sessions go more smoothly. Look at the recipe you will be using for jam and check all of the ingredients and directions. Peel, pit, and chop the fruits as though you were getting ready to make jam right away. Peaches can be peeled quickly and easily by dipping in scalding water then ice water. The peels will slip right off. Strawberries should be crushed and larger fruits chopped before freezing. For jelly, you can crush the fruit then strain and measure the juice before you freeze it, or you can freeze the fruit whole and strain the juice after thawing.
When your fruits are prepared, measure the proper amounts and freeze enough in one container to make a single batch of jam or jelly. Fruit that oxidizes, or turns brown, should be treated with lemon juice to keep it looking fresh and lovely while it waits in the freezer. In fact, you can add any juice called for in the recipe at this point too. Do not add sugar and pectin until you are ready to make jam. Label the containers with all of the ingredients and their measurements. Use a vacuum sealer to prevent freezer burn if you will not be able to make the jam pretty quickly. You can also use freezer containers that are BPA free and pack the fruit in tightly, then add a bit of juice over the top of the fruit.
But What If I have a Frozen Block of Fruit?
We don’t always have it together enough to freeze our fruit in perfect size containers for making a batch of jam, do we? I’m guilty of freezing solid chunks of unmeasured fruit, then wondering what to do with it.
Good news! You can thaw the entire block of frozen fruit in your pan, then measure out the amount needed for a batch. Just refrigerate the rest until you can make the next batch…but be sure to use it up quickly so it doesn’t turn brown and loose nutritional quality.
Making the Jam
When you’re ready to process, pull the fruit out of your freezer and thaw just enough to loosen the mixture from the container. Place the fruit into your non-reactive pan and heat on medium-low until thawed. At this point you will continue with the recipe instructions as usual.
Note: Freezing fruit may reduce the jelling effect of the natural pectin. You may need to increase the amount of pectin added to the jam or jelly. You may experiment with different fruits and see if you need to add extra pectin, or you may add extra just to be sure your recipe jells properly. I recommend using the bulk pectin and adding 1 Tbsp extra pectin per 3 to 4 pints of jam. (One 1.75 oz package of pectin contains 3 tablespoons).
Be sure to have your water bath canner filled and boiling before you begin. Since jam and jelly needs a short processing time, it is recommended that you sterilize your jelly jars before filling them with jam. Most jam and jelly requires a processing time of 5 to 15 minutes for half pint or pint containers, depending on your elevation. For complete instructions for making jam and jelly, refer to the instructions included with your pectin, or visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website. You can find the link under my Resources page.