For the last few years, my dad has grown red raspberries in his garden. The yield on his crop was so extreme that my mom had no idea what to do with so many berries, so she started making “freezer jam.” My grandparents made jams and jellies using this particular method and as you’ll see below, freezer jam is a much faster and easier way to preserve fruit than the traditional cooked jam method. Additionally, freezer jam maintains the fresh taste of fruit and is easily spreadable whereas traditional jams require you to cook the fruit to yield a firmer gel.
The following recipe is specific to blackberries and/or raspberries, but when you purchase most brands of fruit pectin, the container will include an insert that lists variations of ingredients needed to produce the perfect freezer jam.
1 1/2 cups crushed raspberries
1 1/2 cups crushed blackberries
5 ¼ cups sugar
¾ cup water
1.75 ounces (1 box) natural fruit pectin
Thoroughly wash fresh berries. Fit a food mill with its finest blade. A food mill is a fantastic way to remove seeds from berries, but if you don’t have one, use a potato masher to crush the fruit one cup at a time. You may also use a food processor, but make sure not to puree the berries; pulse them to a fine chop. If using a food mill, crush the berries about ½ cup at a time until you have rendered 3 cups. The seeds and pulp left behind after milling can be used to plant next year’s crop of berries.
In a large bowl, combine crushed berries with sugar. Though this sounds like an absurd amount of sugar, don’t skimp or the jam will not set. Most brands of fruit pectin come in low- and no-sugar varieties if you are concerned about the amount of sugar in this recipe. Mix berries and sugar well and allow them to stand for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
In a small saucepan, combine water and pectin. Bring to a boil on high heat. Boil 1 minute (until mixture achieves a syrupy consistency), stirring constantly.
Stir pectin mixture into the berry mixture. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Make sure that the mixture is no longer grainy.
Pour the mixture into prepared containers. For freezer jam, 1 to 2 cup containers are advised. Leave ½ inch space at the top of each container for expansion during freezing. Cover each container with a tight fitting lid and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours until firmly set.
Jam may then be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or stored in freezer for up to 1 year.
(Yields: 7 cups; Ready In: 20 minutes preparation + 24 hours)