The freshest tasting berry jam is made in just minutes with this no-cook freezer jam recipe. Find out the pros and cons about pectin, how you can use it, make your own, or do without using other recipes listed. But if you want almost fresh from the vine flavored jam in the depths of winter, freezer jam is where it's at!
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When I wrote about how to freeze strawberries for preserving, freezer jam was one of the three ways I shared to enjoy height-of-summer berries through the winter.
Our whole family really loves any type of berry freezer jam instead of traditional cooked and canned jams, so it's the main way I preserve fruit as jam.
Over the years I've tried many different cooked and canned jams (some just using the natural pectin in the fruit) and I found our family just doesn't like the flavor as much.
Cooked jams are often too sweet with less fruit flavor. Plus, they didn't always gel and we'd have to use it for syrup instead - especially the ones without any added pectin or gelatin.
I find no-cook jams made with commercial pectins not only incredibly easy, but way fresher tasting, so I've continued to use them even after I started reading labels because the ingredients are not terrible and I'm okay with it for the outcome.
We all have to make our own choices here, which is actually a goal I have for the blog - balance. Do what works for your family and make informed choices.
But Can You Make Freezer Jam Without Commercial Pectin?
Yes, as I mentioned in the strawberry preserving article, there are some no pectin methods work with all berries and other fruits, depending (like chia seeds with peaches probably wouldn't work, but they aren't noticeable with seedy berries):
- Make a homemade pectin from green apples. This is only so-so, since the jam has to be cooked and you lose that fresh flavor.
- Use chia seeds to thicken fruit and sugar like this recipe for Blackberry Chia Seed Freezer Jam (pictured above). Since the seeds don't need the sugar to thicken like pectins, you can use a substitute or very little. It only lasts about a week in the fridge after defrosting, though.
- Cook berries until their natural pectin forms. This of course won't give that fresh no-cooked flavor and different berries have different amounts of pectin (strawberries less than raspberries, for example), so you may end up with a runnier product.
- I've even seen recipes that use gelatin, though the consensus is that for freezer jams, the gelatin doesn't hold the gel after defrosting.
- Low-cook the berries with lemon and a sweetener. I developed this recipe that's surprisingly close to the fresh flavor I enjoy in freezer jams and it's made with just berries, lemon, and maple syrup! (Here's why lemon helps jams to thicken if you're wondering.)
Looking for a pantry stable option with low sugar?
Oh, and if you're wanting a shelf stable jam to give as gifts or just keep in your pantry, here's my 3 ingredient no pectin canned blackberry jam sweetened only with maple syrup that is amazing. And that's saying something for me who prefers uncooked jams.
That recipe would also work just as well with blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. AND it also works as a freezer jam.
It's great to have options, right?
How to Make Easy Freezer Jam
You'll need very simple ingredients to make a batch of jam:
- berries or fruit, equal to anywhere between 1-2/3 cups to 5 cups crushed, depending on number of pints being made
- sugar, 2/3 to 2 cups, again depending, if using the commercial pectin
- pectin for freezer jam or with no-cook options
I like Ball flex-batch pectins, because you can make small batches easily, which is perfect for those of us with smaller home berry patches or if you pick up a couple pints at a farmer's market.
For freezer jams, I like the no-cook pectin best since it uses less sugar, gives that fresh flavor, and takes less time. But if you're wanting to try a no sugar jam, go with the other since it's only a bit of cooking time.
What are the ingredients of commercial pectin?
- Dextrose is the first ingredient, a sugar derived from sweet fruits (though mostly corn now, I suppose). It's less than a 1/4 cup, so it's a trade-off I'm still willing to make, even though it probably comes from non-organic corn that I try to avoid now (choices...).
- Next is fruit pectin, usually from apples or citrus.
- Citric acid is the third ingredient. It's derived from citrus, but not the same as ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C and is needed to work with the pectin to gel (the pectin and acid work this way together in nature, too).
- Sodium citrate, which is the salt of citric acid.
- Potassium sorbate which is the preservative. Looking up what exactly this is, I found this is from Wikipedia: it is the potassium salt of sorbic acid (a natural organic compound used for food preservation that was discovered from unripe berries in the 1850s).
So for us, in our mainly-from-scratch diet, this small amount of preservative is worth it so we can have the best tasting jam in our freezer using our homegrown or wild berries and fruits.
In other words, this is a modern invention I'm okay with, but you won't hurt my feelings if you disagree, because it takes all kinds to make the world go around, right?
Let's make some freezer jam!
1. Wash and crush berries to equal 1-2/3 to 5 cups (or what the package directions call for). I whir strawberries and peaches a couple of times in the food processor to get even pieces quickly, but other berries are easily crushed with a potato masher.
2. Boil some water and pour it into jars or freezer containers to do a quick sterilization while making the jam. This isn't totally necessary, it just is another way to ensure your hard work lasts.
3. Following the instructions on the packet, mix the sugar and pectin in the amounts you need for your number of pints in a bowl. (Note: this photo was taken when the pectin was sold in packets - now it comes in the Flex Batch containers.)
4. Add crushed fruit and stir for 3 minutes.
Toward the end of the 3 minutes, you will feel that the mixture is already starting to thicken.
5. Pour into the containers, making sure to leave enough room for expansion during freezing, 1/2 to 1 inch headspace.
Note: I've used glass containers for freezer jam for years now in an effort to not use as much plastic and I haven't had breakage. A bonus is they look nicer on the table.
That's it. Seriously, it's that easy and quick.
If you've been making jam, what's your favorite way to make jam? And if you haven't what's stopping you?
Easy No-Cook Berry Freezer Jam
- Glass measuring cup
- Large bowl
- Wooden spoon
- 5 cups crushed fruit
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons Ball Flex Batch Freezer Pectin*
- Prepare your jars and/or freezer containers: wash well and pour boiling water into jars and let them sit while making the jam.
- Prepare your fruit: hull strawberries and partially run through a food processor to make the crushing go quicker; other berries can just be crushed with a potato masher, a couple cups at a time. Other fruit like peaches and nectarines will need to be chopped finely.
- Make the jam: Add sugar and pectin to a large bowl and stir together well. Add your prepared fruit and stir for 3 minutes.
- Pour the jam into clean jars, leaving 1/2 to 1 inch headspace (for freezer expansion); place lids on jars and let the jars sit undisturbed for 30 minutes.
- Refrigerate what you want to eat now (they will keep for about 3 weeks) and freeze the rest for up to a year. Be sure to label and date all the containers before freezing.
More Berry Recipes to Try:
This recipe has been updated - it was originally published in July of 2010.Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.
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