We love strawberry freezer jam around here. I like making it because it’s so quick and involves very little cooking, unlike the canning I remember doing with my mom many years ago. My mom always scoffed at freezer jam as not being “real” jam, but I’ll take the tradeoff to keep the kitchen cool!
Unfortunately, with our mild winter and unseasonably hot and dry conditions, I completely missed strawberry picking season. I could make freezer jam with store-bought berries, but it’s just not as tasty. I was thinking about one of our favorite pies, cherry-peach, because I generally make a star-spangled one for the Fourth of July but was in a hotel this year and didn’t. Those flavors would be fabulous in jam I decided. Then we can have it whenever we want, on scones or waffles, without the trouble of making a pie.
I love using these antique canning jars for freezer jams. They’re missing all their rubber gaskets, so can’t be used for real canning anymore. I found a whole box of them at a flea market in Vermont about fifteen years ago, and my GI Joe still wonders why I needed them. Silly boy.
Cherry Peach Freezer Jam
3 cups peeled and cubed peaches
14 oz can tart pie cherries, drained
4 cups sugar
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp almond extract
1 package Sure Jell
¾ cup water
1. Mash the fruit using a potato masher, or pulse until finely chopped (but not pureed) in food processor. Be sure you measure the exact amount of fruit to have 4 cups crushed.
2. Place fruit in large bowl and stir in sugar, nutmeg, and almond extract. Let sit ten minutes while you go find and wash your canning jars. I like to use glass, just because I like seeing it, but 8 oz plastic freezer containers with lids are great and much more practical.
3. Bring water and Sure Jell to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, then stir into fruit and sugar mixture. Stir continuously for about 3 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved and it doesn’t feel grainy between your fingertips.
4. Pour into prepared jars , replace lids, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours before freezing. Keeps up to nine months in the freezer, or one month in the refrigerator.
Makes 7 cups
I store ours in pint jars, because the hooligans can devour some jam, but you can use 12 oz or 8 oz instead. Also, the amount of sugar disturbs me, but the tart cherries really need it, as well as the pectin not working correctly without the right amount of sugar. Next time I’m going to try low-sugar pectin, though, and use less sugar.