This sweet Strawberry Freezer Jam is the easiest and most delicious way to take advantage of the season's fresh berries! With just 4 ingredients and less than 30 minutes, you will have a small batch of thick strawberry jam that you can use on toast or biscuits, in yogurt, on ice cream, and more. You won't believe how simple this truly is!
It's highly predictable -- I take the kids up to our neighbor's farm to pick strawberries for a couple of hours and we inevitably come home with more fresh fruit than we could ever possibly eat at once. When this happened again last week, I turned to my favorite Strawberry Freezer Jam recipe as a simple way to preserve our bounty. After all, we can only consume so many batches of Strawberry Crisp or Strawberry Pie in one week!
What is Strawberry Freezer Jam?
I've spent plenty of hours over the years putting up many, many jars of preserved fruits and vegetables. There's a lot to be said for the ability to open up a jar of preserves in the middle of winter and instantly be transported back to the ripe summer fruit. That said, proper canning is a time consuming process, and it's not always necessary.
Strawberry Freezer Jam tastes exactly like any other jar of your favorite homemade strawberry jam. There are just two main differences between traditional strawberry jam and strawberry freezer jam:
- In traditional jam recipes, the fruit is cooked on the stovetop with sugar and pectin. By contrast, the berries are not cooked for freezer jam, and therefore keep their fresh taste and beautiful color.
- Freezer jam does not go through the traditional canning process to kill all of the bacteria and make the product shelf-stable. Instead, freezer jam must be stored in the refrigerator or in the freezer.
How to make Strawberry Freezer Jam:
This recipe may be quick and easy, but you certainly don't sacrifice any flavor! Get your ingredients and supplies ready, because we'll have a batch of jam in your jars in about 15 minutes!
Ingredients for Strawberry Freezer Jam:
- Fresh strawberries
- Granulated sugar
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Powdered fruit pectin
Plus water, which I don't include in my list of "4 ingredients!"
Make sure that you have all of your ingredients and supplies ready to go before you get started, since this process goes very quickly.
- 6 sterilized half-pint freezer-safe jars and lids (such as mason jars) or other freezer-safe containers
- A sterilized funnel: this makes it easier to get the jam inside the jar without spilling; however, it's fine if you don't have a funnel -- you can carefully spoon the jam into the jars instead.
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
How to Sterilize Jars, Lids and Funnel for Jam:
It's a good practice to sterilize the jars and lids before canning in order to kill any bacteria, fungi or yeasts before filling. There are a variety of ways to sterilize the jars (here's a helpful article with different options), but for freezer jam I typically just run them through the dishwasher, making sure that the dishwasher will be done at about the same time that I want to fill the jars.
Step 1: Combine Crushed Berries and Sugar
Combine the strawberries and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 2: Boil Water and Pectin
In a saucepan, bring the water and pectin to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.
Step 3: Add Hot Pectin and Lemon Juice to Strawberry Mixture
Pour the hot pectin, along with the lemon juice, into the strawberry mixture.
Stir constantly for 3 minutes.
Step 4: Fill Jars
Use a funnel (or a spoon) to fill the jars, cover with the lids, and allow the jam to rest on the counter for 24 hours.
What to serve with Strawberry Freezer Jam:
This strawberry jam is delicious spread on toast, dolloped on biscuits, pancakes or waffles, stirred into yogurt or oatmeal, or drizzled over ice cream.
Preparation and Storage Tips:
- Make sure that you leave about ½-inch of headspace in each jar. This will allow the jam to expand when it freezes and will prevent your jars or containers from shattering.
- The jam will not set immediately, so it's important to allow the jars to rest without interruption at room temperature for 24 hours.
- How to Store Strawberry Freezer Jam: Once the jam has rested for 24 hours, store the jars in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 12 months.
How to Thicken Strawberry Freezer Jam:
Most recipes for Strawberry Freezer Jam call for 1 box (or 1.75 ounces) of powdered fruit pectin. Over our many jam-making years, my mom has taught me to always err on the side of more pectin than recommended to ensure that the jam actually thickens. There's just nothing more disappointing than runny Strawberry Freezer Jam!
That's why I weigh out 2 ounces of powdered fruit pectin for each batch, which is equivalent to about 6 tablespoons of pectin or slightly more than one box. I buy the pectin in bulk at a local country market, and then I don't have to worry about opening two boxes. Using the full 2 ounces of pectin results in a perfectly thick Strawberry Freezer Jam every time. Mom always knows best...
Why you should add Lemon Juice to Strawberry Jam:
You won't actually taste the lemon in the jam. Instead, the lemon juice serves a very specific purpose. The lemon juice lowers the pH of the jam, which neutralizes negative charges on the strands of pectin and helps your jam set. Again, no runny jam!
Can I decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe or can I use Splenda?
Stick with regular granulated sugar (instead of sugar substitutes like Splenda or stevia) and do not decrease the quantity called for in the recipe. Jam making is an exact science, so measuring the correct quantities of fruit, sugar and pectin are essential to a successful batch of jam. For the same reason, many experts suggest that you should not try to double or triple the recipe to make a larger batch of jam. If you adjust the recipe in any way, the jam may not set properly.
Why is my Strawberry Freezer Jam gritty?
Since the freezer jam isn't cooked like traditional jam, it can be difficult to dissolve all of the sugar in the fruit. When the sugar isn't completely dissolved, you may end up with a finished jam that has a "gritty" or "grainy" consistency.
To make sure that the sugar is properly dissolved, be sure to follow the recipe instructions exactly and set a timer to make sure that you're giving the jam mixture plenty of time to come together. Stir it frequently, and let it sit as instructed.
What to do with fresh picked strawberries:
If you have a bounty of fresh fruit that you picked yourself or that you scooped up at the market, here are a few more recipes to use up strawberries:
- Strawberry Shortcake Cake
- Old-Fashioned Strawberry Pie
- Strawberry Bread
- Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Poppy Seed Dressing
- Strawberry Crisp
Strawberry Freezer Jam
- 2 cups crushed strawberries (about 4-5 cups whole berries before crushing)
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 ounces (about 6 tablespoons) powdered fruit pectin
- Combine strawberries and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
- In a saucepan, bring water and pectin to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Stir hot pectin and lemon juice into strawberry mixture. Stir constantly for 3 minutes. Fill sterilized freezer-safe jars or other containers, leaving about ½-inch of headspace. Quickly cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Freeze for up to 12 months or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Thaw frozen jam in the refrigerator and stir before serving.