- Peach freezer jam is the perfect first step to canning for beginners. -
Peaches are the one fruit I wish were in season all year round. Maybe someday I’ll find a magical genie in a lamp, and when I do, that’s exactly what I’m going to ask for. Until then, I’ll keep making peach preserves to keep me content through winter’s staunch fruitlessness.
Many folks are wary of preserving their own fruit, and for good reason. Besides being a fairly time consuming process, a botched attempt at canning can spell disaster for anyone who eats from a contaminated batch. In reality, canning isn’t difficult or scary, though it can take some time to build up the gumption for such an involved project. Fortunately, there’s a baby step on the roadway to heat-processed preserves: freezer jam.
It’s so easy to make freezer jam that it’s almost laughable – the only time consuming part is chopping your fruit. Beyond that, you can easily make a whole batch in half an hour or less. Perhaps the best thing about freezer jam is that it doesn’t require cooking, so when you crack open your container sometime mid-January, your fruit will look and taste much fresher than if it were heat-canned.
Another plus: since there’s no heat involved, this is a great project to get your kids involved in the kitchen. They’ll love the fact that they made the best part of their peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
Freezer Jam Containers
There are many kinds of containers you can store your freezer jam in. While you can buy specially made plastic tubs, you can also use good, old-fashioned mason jars. You’ll want to buy the straight-sided kind, not the ones with rounded shoulders up near the mouth. When your jam expands in the freezer, it will push against the shoulders of the jar and cause it to explode. Seriously no bueno.
A Few Words on Pectin
When it comes to pectin, I use Ball’s Freezer Jam Pectin, though you can also use Pomona’s Universal Pectin with great results. These two particular brands allow you to use Splenda instead of sugar, if that’s your inclination, but if you’re using another brand of pectin, make sure to read the directions ahead of time to ensure that it will gel with something other than regular sugar.
Another note about pectin: it’s imperative that you buy the correct kind for your project and read the instructions carefully. Recipes can (and will) vary from brand to brand. Different kinds of pectin will call for different amounts of sugar, so read the directions or your jam won’t gel correctly. Freezer jams are always a little thinner than regular heat-processed preserves, but they should still set to a nice spreadable consistency.
- 4 cups of peeled and finely chopped ripe peaches (about 12 medium peaches)
- 1-1/2 cups white sugar or Splenda, ideally superfine
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 package Ball No-Cook Freezer Jam Pectin
- 5 – 8-ounce freezer-proof jam containers
- In a large bowl, crush your peaches with a potato masher. Mash them until they’re a consistency you like.
- Add in sugar and lemon juice, stirring until well mixed. Let stand for ten minutes.
- Gradually stir in the pectin, making sure that there are no lumps. Keep stirring for another two or three minutes to make sure the pectin is completely dissolved.
- Ladle jam into clean jars or freezer-proof plastic containers, making sure you leave about half an inch of headspace so that it can expand.
- Let sit for at least 60 minutes before storing so that it can fully gel. Store in freezer for up to one year, or in the fridge for three weeks. Remember that this is not heat-treated jam, so you can’t store it at room temperature!