Bounty of the Season: Strawberry Freezer Jam

by Kimba on June 9, 2010

in In the Kitchen,Seasonal Projects

I think I’m the 284th blogger to write about strawberry freezer jam this week. There must be something in the air…or more accurately…in the farmer’s market. Strawberries. Lots and lots of sweet, beautiful, delicious strawberries.

But this post is different! I like to think if it as the definitive writing on the hot debate between Ball and Sure Jell Strawberry Freezer Jam. If you look around, you’ll see that there are two very different recipes for Strawberry Freezer Jam. The primary difference (besides the brand of pectin) is the amount of sugar in the recipes.

I made them both because I was curious and now I can tell you about the results. And I also made a batch of Strawberry Pineapple Freezer Jam because that sounded good too…And because I’m a crazy-person. Once I get started on something, I can’t stop. I have 25 containers of freezer jam to fit into my freezer. For real.

Freezer jam is fantastic because it doesn’t involve all of the pesky parts of canning like sealing the jars. If you have a little room in your freezer, it’s totally worthwhile to make a batch, or 5, of this sweet, delicious treat. And regardless of which version you make, it’s ridiculously easy. I didn’t do anything fancy and followed the recipes on the box exactly as written.

First, you have to get your hands on some berries. My local market sells a quart of strawberries for $5.50. Ouch! That’s pricey for jam, in my opinion. But they sell “Yesterday’s Berries” for $2.50 a quart. They’re perfect for jam. You just have to get there early.

Here are the ingredients for the Sure Jell Strawberry Freezer Jam:

  • 1 package Sure Jell Fruit Pectin
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of crushed strawberries (about 2 lbs or 1 quart)

Yes. You read that right. 4 CUPS! Every fiber of your being will say “too much!” but just close your eyes and go with it. And think of it this way…there’s at least that much sugar (not to mention high fructose corn syrup) in store-bought jam.

Here are the ingredients for the Ball Strawberry Freezer Jam:

  • 1 package Ball No Cook Freezer Jam Pectin
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups crushed strawberries (about 4 lbs or 2 quarts)

The Ball version has WAY less suger and WAY more strawberries. It’s also slightly easier because you don’t even have to turn on the stove to cook the pectin. That’s EASY!

Sugar aside, the recipes are very similar.

First you core and mash your berries. Some people use a food processor, but I think a potato masher is better. Jam is supposed to have larger bits of fruit in it.

Then you add your sugar and stir your berry mixture until the sugar dissolves completely.

Here’s where the recipes differ a little. In the Ball version, you add the pectin directly to the strawberries along with the sugar. How easy is that?

With the Sure Jell version, you boil the pectin for a minute in some water and add that to your strawberry/sugar mixture. Totally not difficult. It only adds a minute or two to the process.

After everything is mixed together, you ladle the sweet strawberry mixture into containers. I used a combination of 8 oz. plastic freezer containers and cute little glass jelly jars. The plastic containers are for our family and we’ll give the cute jars as gifts when we’re invited to parties and bbq’s this summer.

The Ball version needs to sit out for 30 minutes and the Sure Jell version for 24 hours. After that, they’re ready for the freezer! A jar will keep for about 3 weeks in the fridge and for at least a year in the freezer.

So what’s my opinion on the two different versions? Good question. I like them both, but they’re different. The Sure Jell is more like a traditional store-bought jam. Very sweet and fairly thick. The kids love it.

The Ball version is much less sweet and way more strawberry-y. I think I like it better, but if your strawberries aren’t already sweet, I don’t think it would be good. It’s not as thick as the Sure Jell version so it will make a really good sundae topping too.

But honestly, the Strawberry Pineapple Freezer Jam is my favorite. It’s very sweet, but I like the combined flavors of the pineapple and the strawberries. YUM!

Now I’d better hope those BBQ invites come soon. Cause I don’t have enough room in my freezer for all this jam. YIKES!

So spill it! Who makes their own jam? What kind? What’s your fave?

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1 Lorie June 9, 2010 at 9:42 am

I always make freezer jam, but actually want to give cooked jam a shot this year! (Being brave!!)

My favorite is raspberry, but I usually make strawberry because they are so inexpensive this time of year. We have some fresh made jars in the freezer right now! YUM!
.-= Lorie´s last blog ..Button Pillow =-.

2 Lorie June 9, 2010 at 9:47 am

I forgot to say that I have always used Sure Jell. It is a TON of sugar, but we don’t use a TON of jelly when we put it on sandwiches or toast. There is also an option on the Sure Jell for using less sugar, but it is thinner and less sweet when you make it. Sounds like it would be similar to the Ball.
.-= Lorie´s last blog ..Button Pillow =-.

3 Jessica @ This Blessed Life June 9, 2010 at 9:50 am

So interesting – I had no idea that Ball even made pectin! I’ve always used the Sure-Jell kind, which ends up being more like dessert than jam (I’ve been known to pound down a few big spoonfuls! haha). This is really good to know – now I’ll be on the lookout for the Ball recipe and pectin. Thanks!

4 Jennifer June 9, 2010 at 10:07 am

I tried strawberry freezer jam for the first time last year. I loved it, but I have to agree that paying that much for a jar of jam was a little hard for me. My farm stand does not offer seconds either, so this year I will probably debate whether to do this again.

5 Janell Beals June 9, 2010 at 10:12 am

Yum, I can’t wait for the strawberries to be ripe in Oregon!! They look delicious! Janell

6 Kristi Temple June 9, 2010 at 10:16 am

We made freezer jam a couple of weeks ago after bringing home 4 GALLONS of strawberries from the farm. I used the Ball freezer jam pectin and everyone loved it. The only thing I did that deviated from the recipe was I used 5 cups of strawberry puree instead of 4 cups of mashed berries. No one here is fond of chunks. I also squeezed a lime over the berries before they went into the blender. It was delicious and we made 3 batches. It is wonderful on bread but our favorite is as a topping for Homemade Sweet Cream Ice Cream (Ben and Jerry’s recipe).

7 The Working Home Keeper June 9, 2010 at 10:26 am

Last year, I made strawberry freezer jam using Ball pectin. This year, I’m planning on making a mixed berry jam. I froze the strawberries we picked last month and we’re going to pick blueberries and blackberries in a few weeks. I’m going to try Pomona’s Universal Pectin and use local honey instead of sugar.

Mary Ellen
.-= The Working Home Keeper´s last blog ..Container Herb Garden =-.

8 Rachel Lynn June 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

We just made our first batch of strawberry preserves. ( I like it, but it also has a lot of sugar in it. It’s quite sweet.
.-= Rachel Lynn´s last blog ..Strawberry Preserves =-.

9 Jennifer Juniper June 9, 2010 at 11:16 am

My mom makes strawberry freezer jam every year and my son calls it “gramma’s magic jelly” it’s that good. It really does taste most like berries! I’ll have to ask her which kind she makes.

So, to answer your question…my fave is the kind someone else makes and gives me 🙂
.-= Jennifer Juniper´s last blog ..Tutorial Tuesday with This Decorated Life =-.

10 Shirley Corwin June 9, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I just started making freezer jam this year!! Where have I been!! I have just used SureJel so far but I have some Ball pectin. I’m glad you mentioned that it won’t set up as much so I won’t get all stressed! I’ll just plan to use it as a topping. I’ve put away 18 jars so far. Well, not put way because I’ve eaten 3!!!!
.-= Shirley Corwin´s last blog ..Crock Pot Applesauce Chicken =-.

11 Cas June 9, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I made a batch of strawberry jam and 2 batches of strawberry blackberry jam right before I had my son….so on 5/20 I was making jam and on 5/21 I was having a baby! lol
.-= Cas´s last blog ..S is in NICU =-.

12 Becky - Clean Mama June 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I make cooked jams – all things strawberry – is my post tomorrow – including jam. Yeah, something must be in the air 🙂

13 Infarrantly Creative June 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I make mine all the old fashioned way. I have actually never tried the freezer kind before. The main reason is I am a freezer meal girl and don’t have room for the 100+ jars I make each year. I can apple sauce and apple and pumpkin butter. When I lived in the PNW and blackberries grew wild I made a zillion jars of blackberry each season. I have also done apricot and strawberry. I have never done a mixed fruit once though. After reading yours and Sarah’s posts I want to do strawberry right this minute!

14 Shelle June 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Wow. I used to can with my mom eons ago and hated it. I’ve always loved jams – but the thought of going through the process of canning turns me off. I’m totally blown away by your post though. Now I need jars!!! Thank you!
.-= Shelle´s last blog ..Thrifty scores – need help =-.

15 Angie June 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Kimba! I didn’t know you canned! I’ve done strawberry freezer jam since I was a teen, helping my mom. I LOVE SFJ! We have always done the Sure-Jell method. I have also tried the Ball mix (last year), which does have less sugar, but it kind of jelled up at the bottom, and the strawberries floated to the top. Not sure what I did wrong, but it DOES make for good ice cream topping. I love the Sure-Jell version on hot buttered toast!
.-= Angie´s last blog ..Photo Birth Announcement or Adoption Announcement 5×7 You Print =-.

16 Audra Lynn June 9, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I spent all last weekend canning, because we went to the farm to pick blackberries and blueberries with friends. I’ve made blackberry jam, blueberry syrup, and I preserved some of my blueberries in light syrup for things like cobblers and pies. This strawberry jam looks really wonderful, too. I may be off to hunt down strawberries this weekend…
.-= Audra Lynn´s last blog ..Canning Extravaganza Part Two: Blueberry Syrup =-.

17 Jana June 9, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Just wanted to say I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing all the fun ideas 🙂

18 Sandy June 9, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Yay, Kimba! It’s the best. I actually make freezer jam in plastic containers and then I can regular jam in jars. My strawberries are JUST now coming on. We’re gonna have a bumper crop! :O
.-= Sandy´s last blog ..Grad Party: Perfect goes out the Door! =-.

19 Ashley @ Domestic Fashionista June 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Thank you! Apparently I have been out of the loop because I have never even heard of freezer jam before! This is going to change my life! I recently have been researching canning and decided to put it on the back burner because the process seemed to time consuming. Thanks Kimba!
.-= Ashley @ Domestic Fashionista´s last blog ..Photo Taking Tips For Those of Us Without Big Expensive Cameras :: Mendocino Vacation =-.

20 Blarney June 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm

How timely indeed! I just came in with a container of fresh strawberries from our garden. The kids ate half of them so I know I do not have enough for jam of any kind but there is always tomorrow! I love the ease of the freezer jam and can not wait to give it a try … just gotta keep those kids out of them!

21 Michelle June 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm

We made a double batch of the Sure Jell two years ago and kept it in our deep freeze. We just used the last jar and we’re going strawberry picking tomorrow to start all over again. I kid you not, maybe because it’s a lower temp than the freezer on the fridge, it tasted just as good as the first jar we opened. Two years! I was amazed and figured it would taste freezer burned.
.-= Michelle´s last blog ..Sex. =-.

22 stephenie June 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I’ve never even heard of freezer jam before! So thanks for sharing. Looking forward to trying this one after a trip to the strawberry patch next week!
.-= stephenie´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: It’s finished! =-.

23 Charlene @ Secrets of a Southern Kitchen June 9, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Years ago I made strawberry freezer jam using the Sure-jell pectin; last year I made blackberry freezer jam, using the Ball pectin. I’m ready to make more blackberry jam this week using FREE blackberries (picked wild). I’ve been debating which one to use this year, I think I may try both!

Thanks for the side-by-side “test”!
.-= Charlene @ Secrets of a Southern Kitchen´s last blog ..Ice Box Pickles =-.

24 m June 9, 2010 at 9:35 pm

And if it was the 3000th time, I’d never tire of it…it brings back such
great memories of my g-grandmother!

m ^..^

25 Catherine June 9, 2010 at 10:35 pm

During the summer, I take my kids to pick berries and other fruits. It helps with the grocery budget and it’s a field trip! Last year we pick blackberries, blueberries, peaches, and apples. I make strawberry freezer jam every year…last year we had at least 15 containers. We made a batch of jam out of each fruit we picked except apple. Peach is AMAZING! That is my hubby’s new favorite. I want to try out the freezer jam made from juice (apple and grape). I like surejell the best!

26 Bela June 10, 2010 at 8:13 am

Hi, Kimba! That’s looks delicious!! I have never heard of freezer jam before. It is strawberry season in Brasil and I am going to risk myself in the kitchen!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe. Bela.
.-= Bela´s last blog ..Uma bela casa =-.

27 Mr. Scrimp June 10, 2010 at 9:16 am

I hadn’t seen anything about strawberry freezer jam until I saw this, so even if 248 other bloggers have already written about it, I’m glad you went ahead and did it too.

Have you tried Pomona’s Universal Pectin? I really dislike how much sugar Sure-Jell requires, and Pomona’s is activated by calcium instead of sugar so you can use it to make successful sugar-free jam and jelly with no trouble at all.

Can’t wait to mix up some of this freezer jam!

28 Lisa June 10, 2010 at 10:25 am

This is totally inspiring me to take the kids strawberry-picking at our local farm Kimba! Thanks for trying both methods and sharing the results. You’re the best!

29 Sallie June 10, 2010 at 11:42 am

Kimba — I’ve never made freezer jam because I didn’t own a larger upright freezer until this past year and with four growing kids I knew I simply couldn’t spare the space in my over the fridge freezer. I used to only make strawberry jam but last year I was blessed with great amounts of fruits for very low cost and/or free from the wild so I made TONS of jams (almost 100 pint jars) and froze the extra fruit! I gave so much of it away as hospitality gifts 🙂

My favorite batch from last year is a toss up between fig jam (free figs from a tree at church) and the wild muscadine grape jelly I made after I found the wild vines on the base we live on here in NC!

All in all we made strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, fig, and wild muscadine grape last year. This year I’ve already picked about 17 pounds of strawberries and 10 pounds of blueberries and have my eyes open for all the other fruits, too. I must go back for more blueberries because I didn’t even get a taste of last years jam because my kids ate it up pretty fast!

Thanks for the comparison between the ball and sure jell. Honestly, I’ve only ever used sure jell cause I knew it worked and was familiar with it. I might give the ball a try this year though!

Have a blessed week!
.-= Sallie´s last blog ..Julie & Julia =-.

30 Mary June 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Your jam looks wonderful. I also put by freezer jams and strawberry is among my favorites. I am fairly new to your blog and will be back as often as I can. I like the recipes and tips you share with your readers. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary
.-= Mary´s last blog ..Curried Turkey Salad =-.

31 Kelly G in ATX June 11, 2010 at 11:22 am

I’ve started making my own jam too, but I don’t use pectin or gelatin at all. A lot of times, the fruit’s natural pectin is enough to make it gel for my taste, but then again, your method is much more simpler than mine. I actually boil the fruit and a little lemon juice down for about 45 minutes and then add sugar and let it boil a bit more until it’s thick. My favorite jam so far has been pear jam; we like to serve it as a dip for good quality Parmesan cheese cubes. The pairing of salty and sweet and smoke make it a perfect appetizer or dessert for barbecues!

32 Debbie June 13, 2010 at 2:20 am

Strawberries are no longer in season here, and I regret that I didn’t make more jam! We finished our last jar yesterday. I made the jam without pectin – you just have to cook it a bit longer, and it’s slightly more liquidy (well, that’s because I got tired of cooking it!). The sugar jellifies it just fine. I like to stir it into our pancake batter – yum! You don’t have to let it defrost first, either. Just chop away at the ice until it’s distributed, it’ll defrost as it’s cooking!

33 the domestic fringe June 14, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I just made cooked strawberry jam this weekend and I love it. I was SHOCKED at the amount of sugar I used though and it is VERY sweet. I’d like to cut back on the sugar next time. Never tried the freezer version, but I like the idea. I just don’t have lots of room in the freezer right now.

34 Jennifer June 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Thank you so much for the inspiration! I made my second batch today and have 3 more to go. Had to run to the store to get more jars…am trying both the versions you did. MMMMMMM. I cannot wait to make this a yearly part of our summer fun!

35 Autumn June 16, 2010 at 2:19 am

I love making freezer jam! I’ve got 10 jars of the strawberry and 5 of the blackberry. I’ve also just canned a bunch of the same berry type, just to have some shelf stable stuff. I’m totally addicted to canning now! What I like is that the freezer jam tastes to fresh because the berries are uncooked. The two different types of jam have such different flavors.
.-= Autumn´s last blog ..Out of Town =-.

36 Beth @ The Stories of A to Z June 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

I like to think I was #1 out of #284 :). I like the full sugar-coma-inducing Sure Jell recipe. Although strawberry pineapple sounds yummy!
.-= Beth @ The Stories of A to Z´s last blog ..Ideas for Reusing Glass Bottles =-.

37 cathe June 16, 2010 at 10:20 am

well just finished my first try at freezer jam and i tried the ball version. it is just now sitting out for the 30 minutes so we shall see. thanks for your directions and comments on both.
love your blog

38 Claudia June 16, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I’m going to buy pectin tomorrow and making this, I have strawberries galore! Thank you!

39 becca banana June 26, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Thank you! I needed this!

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