Easy Preserving is not your grandma’s canning guide!
Full of lighthearted humor, Easy Preserving entertains as you learn simple and efficient ways to save your bounty – whether that bounty came from your garden, your grocer, or the farmer’s market.
Easy Preserving covers five of the simplest, most time-saving, and most reliable methods of food preservation by giving a clear overview of the method, its pros and cons, what produce works best, and the supplies needed. Easy Preserving then walks you step-by-step through the methods while providing plenty of hints, tips, and recipes.
If you’re just beginning to gain an interest in food preservation, this book is an excellent introduction to several time-saving techniques. If you’ve been using traditional canning methods for years, Easy Preserving is bound to give you new ideas to save your produce without spending hours in the kitchen.
Note on the 2nd Edition: This second edition of Easy Preserving has been thoroughly revised with new text and information. In response to reader requests, when appropriate many recipes now have low- or no-sugar options. Finally, several new recipes have been added for you to enjoy your bounty.
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Learn about your many shopping options for both paperbacks and e-books of Easy Preserving on my Where to Buy page.
READY TO SAMPLE?
Excerpt From Chapter 4 – Freezer Jam
Freezer jam is just that – jam you store in your freezer rather than traditional jam you store on the pantry shelf. And it’s a far easier way to preserve fruits and berries than traditional jam.
When making shelf-stable jam, you cook the fruit which not only heats up your kitchen, but also destroys some of the vitamins in fresh fruit. Once all the ingredients are combined and transferred to jam jars, you then have to put the jars in a hot water bath to seal them shut. This takes a long time. At least three hours. By the time you’re done with a batch of traditional jam you’re hot and tired of being in the kitchen which is now a mess and will eat up more of your summer time to clean.
Because you don’t cook the fruit, freezer jam not only preserves the nutrients in your fruit, but also requires only one minute at the stove. Let me give a real life example of just how easy freezer jam is to make.
The other day I wanted to make a batch of strawberry-blueberry jam. I started at 5:19 pm and was done (including washing the dishes and cleaning up a few jam spills) by 5:47 pm. Nothing had been prepped before I started and, after having prepped the fruit ready, I realized I forgot to bring up a box of pectin and had to go in search for my last box of pectin. So, that twenty-eight minutes of kitchen time included not only completing my jam and cleaning my kitchen, but also factored in some frantic scrambling through the pantry.
Let’s look a little more closely at freezer jam…
- Takes only half an hour to make a batch of several jars
- Requires very little equipment compared to shelf-stable jam
- Requires very few cooking skills
- Tastes super fresh and preserves nutrients since the fruit isn’t cooked
- Can be made any time of year with frozen fruit
- Makes a great gift
- The jars take up freezer space
- Uses quite a bit of sugar.
Note: When using pectin, the sugar cannot be reduced because the sugar is necessary for proper setting of the jam. There is sugar-free/low-sugar pectin, or try out the no-sugar-required jam below.
Use as you would any type of jam – on toast, mixed into plain yogurt, on ice cream…
Berries, peaches and other stone fruit, citrus fruit (see recipe below)
- Blender, immersion blender or potato masher
- Several 4- to 8-ounce containers
- Box of pectin (4-ounce/100-gram size)
- Small pot
- Mixing spoons and measuring cups
- Large bowl
- Cookie sheet (optional, but helpful with keeping things clean)
All About It
As with refrigerator pickles, start with jars and lids that have been recently washed in hot, soapy water.
Start by mashing up enough fruit to make three cups of puree. As a general rule, about five cups of whole fruit will make three cups of puree. If you prefer, leave a few chunks of fruit for a nicely textured jam.
Here’s a hint to make the mashing easier, if you freeze your fruit and let it thaw, it becomes a bit mushy. This makes mashing the fruit much easier. I use an immersion blender to puree my fruit, but you can use a regular blender, a potato masher or you can put the fruit in a freezer bag and squish the bag to mash the fruit (just make sure the bag is well sealed – some things you learn the hard way).
Pour the three cups of mashed fruit into a large mixing bowl.
Stir in five cups of sugar and mix until everything is thoroughly combined. You’ll then let the mixture sit for ten minutes to allow the sugar to blend with the fruit and to dissolve. As the mixture sits, stir it every couple minutes to ensure the sugar and fruit are completely blended. As you’re waiting, arrange your jars onto the cookie sheet and set the lids aside.
Note: here are recipes that use less sugar or no sugar, but the steps given here will get you started with the most basic and reliable way to make freezer jam. Using less sugar than recommended here or on your box of pectin will result in runny jam.
After the ten minutes are up, pour the package of pectin and one cup of water into a saucepan. The pectin will be a bit clumpy and hard to stir into the water. Don’t worry, this is normal. As the water heats the pectin will de-clump and be easy to stir into the water.
Stirring often, heat the liquid to boiling and boil for one minute exactly. Pectin comes to a boil very fast, so don’t leave the stove once you turn it on.
Note: Some pectin brands don’t require boiling, so you should always read your package instructions. I find the ones that do require boiling provide more consistent results.
Pour the pectin mixture into the fruit-sugar mixture and stir for two minutes or until the sugar dissolves completely. Use a spatula every now and then to scrape the sides of the bowl to get all the grains of sugar mixed in. If the sugar doesn’t dissolve completely, you’ll end up grainy jam that may not set properly.
Once you no longer notice any undissolved sugar grains, pour enough jam into each jar to fill it while leaving about a quarter- to half-inch of empty space at the top of the jar. I like to use a liquid measuring cup for this, but a ladle works as well. Just don’t pour directly from the bowl – trust me, it’s very, very messy.
Wipe the lip and edges of the jars clean and put the lids on. Label the jars with the type of jam and the date. Allow the jars to sit at room temperature until cool and set (about two to four hours, but sometimes up to twelve hours). Store the jam in the freezer for up to one year.
Another Note: You’re not limited to using only one kind of fruit. I love to combine berries to make a mixed berry jam. Or perhaps a peach-strawberry jam sounds good? As long as you use three cups (total, not each) of puree and five cups of sugar, you should have great results.
- Mash and measure fruit, you want 3 cups of puree
- Mix in 5 cups of sugar
- Let the fruit and sugar sit for 10 minutes, stir every couple minutes
- Boil the pectin and water for 1 minute
- Stir the pectin into the fruit-sugar mixture for about 2 minutes
- Ladle jam into jars
- Put the lids on
- Let the jars sit at room temperature until jam is set
Beyond the Basics…
Sorry, the sample ends here. Get your copy of Easy Preserving to get all the other freezer jam recipes including a no-sugar option and a no-pectin marmalade!