One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to can and preserve all of the amazing fruits and veggies that we grow in our garden and pick up at our local farmer’s markets. Canning and preserving is not really a very kid-friendly activity, however. There is lots of boiling water, hot jars and scalding ingredients that can make for a very stressful experience for adults, let alone your littles! That’s why I love making freezer jam with my little guy.
With freezer jam you get to preserve summer’s bounty without the worry, heat, equipment or time that canned jams require. All you need is ripe fruit (strawberries, peaches, and blackberries are our family’s favorites), sugar (or other natural sweetener, like honey), pectin (make sure it’s the freezer jam variety), and about 15 minutes. It really is as simple as mashing the fruit, adding the pectin, stirring for 3-5 minutes, waiting 30 minutes to let the fruit set and voila, you have jam. There are a million different recipes that you can find online by searching “no-cook freezer jams.” Some of my favorites: Raspberry or Berry Blitz.
If you’ve never had freezer jam, it’s important to know that it doesn’t have the same texture and flavor as a cooked jam. It looks and tastes more like the ripe fruit itself (which I personally love). And freezer jam isn’t shelf-stable, so if you don’t plan to eat it within 2-3 weeks of it being in the refrigerator, it must go in the freezer (hence the name!).
I’ve used both Ball instant fruit pectin and Pomona’s Universal pectin. The Ball pectin is a bit simpler to use, but Pomona’s doesn’t have preservatives and allows you to use a bit less sugar and still get a good set. There are also no- and low-sugar pectins. Semi-pro tip: stir your pectin well. Otherwise, you may get jam that doesn’t set quite right.
Before you know it, you and your little ones will be dishing up homemade jam for your morning toast, smoothies, yogurt, or just by the spoonful (shh, don’t tell). My almost 4 year old loves mashing the berries and stirring in the pectin, as well as licking the spoon! It is a super simple activity that you can do with your kids even if you’re not a superstar in the kitchen, and believe me, you’ll thank yourself come January for saving a little jar of summer in your freezer.